BY Peter Diamond | August 16 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Scotland can lead on combatting climate change, SCIAF director says

Scotland can take the lead on combating climate change if the UK is successful in its bid to host a global meeting of 200 world leaders in Glasgow next year, the head of SCIAF has said.

The Catholic international aid charity and Justice and Peace Scotland have welcomed news that the UK has nominated Glasgow as host city for the climate change gathering.

“It’s possibly going to be the biggest ever conference the UK has hosted with 200 world leaders expected to attend the last weekend of the two week event,” Alistair Dutton, director of SCIAF, said.

“There will be 30,000 delegates in Glasgow for that time and it will be the biggest news story in town.”



The UK and Italy have lodged a joint bid to host the 26th Conference of the Parties, known as COP26.

While Turkey is still in the running for the event, the UK is now seen as the clear favourite.

If the bid is successful, the event would take place at Glasgow’s Scottish Events Campus (SEC) at the end of 2020.

Mr Dutton said the conference was an opportunity for the Scottish Government to present a beefed up climate change bill, which will come before parliament next month.


Climate emergency

Mr Dutton said the conference should focus on the ‘interwoven’ issues of climate emergency and climate justice.

“Pope Francis says ‘we are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental.’

“One affects the other, and that is something most evident in the developing world where SCIAF’s work is carried out because the poorest people in the world suffer the most.

“For us Catholics that is very important to understand and to try to fix,” Mr Dutton said, adding that he anticipates that a delegation from the Holy See will attend the conference.

SCIAF work with those most affected by climate change, including farmers whose crop cycles have been thrown off by unpredictable weather changes.

“They talk about their daily struggle and the affects of increase droughts and harsher cyclones, which can mean the poorest are fighting a losing battle,” Mr Dutton said.


People’s conference

The charity are in the early stages of exploring if a people’s conference can be held parallel to the UN conference, which will help educate and provide a space for ‘normal people to express how climate change hurts them’ while the eyes of the world are on Glasgow.

Mr Dutton added: “The three main areas of success we would like to see at the conference is to make sure our partners from around the world are here and are able to give an account of how they’re affected by climate change.

“The second area would be to help Scots and Catholics articulate why global warming is a huge concern to them and that we let world leaders know.

Third, we’ll have people working in the corridors of the conference trying to convince governments to get the best deal for a greener economy.”


Parish agreement

A decision on the location for the UN conference, which has been described as the most important gathering on climate change since the Paris agreement was signed in 2015, is expected later this year.

Justice and Peace Scotland a commission for the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland have also welcomed the conference announcement and called for the Scottish Government to produce ‘an ambitious climate bill’ to reduce carbon emissions.


Eyes of the world on Scotland

Frances Gallagher from Justice and Peace said: “There is no doubt that if Glasgow is confirmed as the venue for COP26 in 2020, the eyes of the world will be on Scotland.

“Those already suffering devastating climate change and the resulting poverty it causes and those who have been forced to leave their homelands and become refugees will, most definitely, be watching and praying for the breakthrough needed to prevent an irreversible climate catastrophe.

“For too long governments have shied away from action on climate change and now time is running out.

“We want to see the Scottish Government stand up and be counted with an ambitious climate bill that takes all the necessary measures to cut our carbon emissions before it’s too late.

“Internationally, governments must also be working together to stop the destruction of the world’s rainforests and we pray that there is both the will and leadership to do this.”


Roseanna Cunningham

Catholic MSP Roseanna Cunningham, the Scottish Government’s climate change secretary, said: “I welcome the announcement that Glasgow has been chosen as the prospective host city of such an important international event if the UK bid is successful.

“It is natural that COP26 should take place in the city given its strong global presence and ambitious plans for climate action.”

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