16 November 2021

Cop26 deal will be ‘paper tiger’ if parliaments do not step up, MSPs told

16 November 2021

The Glasgow climate pact will be nothing but a “paper tiger” if parliaments do not legislate to meet it, MSPs have heard.

Cop26 closed in Glasgow on Saturday after two weeks of intensive discussions between more than 100 countries, with a deal finally produced.

The pact was heavily criticised by some over what was described as “watered down” language on coal, but was the first in the history of the summits to mention fossil fuels directly.

These are very welcome, but will remain paper tigers unless parliaments such as yourselves enact laws to bring them in the purview of national legislation

Countries also agreed to refine their plans to reduce carbon emissions over the next decade by the end of next year.

Speaking before a Holyrood committee, Melini Mehra – chief executive of Globe International, a group of legislators from across the world working towards sustainable development – said the agreement must now be implemented at national levels to be a success.

“The two weeks saw a barrage of pledges and pacts being made to address the nature and climate emergences,” she said.

“These are very welcome but will remain paper tigers unless parliaments such as yourselves enact laws to bring them in the purview of national legislation.”

Ms Mehra said there would be a “surge” of laws being made across the world on climate change after the Glasgow summit, adding: “Without laws, there is no credibility.”

Meanwhile, Professor Jim Skea, chairman of Scotland’s Just Transition Commission, said those who could pay would have to foot some of the bill to meet the country’s plans to decarbonise heating.

Green minister Patrick Harvie announced in October a target of one million homes using low or zero carbon heating by the end of the decade, but plans on how this would be financed were not laid out at the time.

Prof Skea told committee: “Quite simply, the Government or the taxpayer cannot afford to step up for the kind of level that is required.

“So, people that can pay would need to pay if you’re going to put yourself on that pathway to net zero.

“People will get financial benefit from these measures when they’re put in place and therefore it’s quite reasonable and fair to expect people who are getting that benefit to put up some of the upfront cost.”

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