SCOTTISH Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham, has been giving her opinion on the Government’s updated Climate Change Plan. But nowhere in her Herald on Sunday article ("‘COP26 is a chance for us all to play our part in debate’", December 20), or even in the plan itself, do we get a glimpse of the reality of climate change.

Climate change is increasingly experienced by people across the globe as extreme weather events that are already destroying lives. It’s experienced by the natural world as rising temperatures, the melting of ice and the destruction of habitats and the threat of species extinctions.

There’s no sense of this in the report. The term “climate change” is scattered throughout it like punctuation marks, and carries about as much meaning as a comma.

There is scientific consensus about climate change. It’s caused by burning fossil fuels which give rise to greenhouse gases (carbon emissions) that cause the atmosphere to heat, and progressively destabilise global climates.

The oil industry, and the North Sea where 75 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions originate, have been “disappeared” from the Government's plan. It’s one area where the UK and Scottish governments are completely in step. Their plan for the North Sea is “Maximising Economic Recovery”. And if that isn’t clear enough, just think, “business as usual”.

Maybe you thought that a climate change plan might concentrate on how we might replace fossil fuel production with renewable energy production in a planned way, that protects the workers, their families and communities by helping them transition to work in a sustainable industry.

But no. Oil and gas must stay, and stay in the hands of the giant corporations, and suffer the vagaries of a basket case of an oil market that gives us periodic price collapses and catapults thousands of workers onto the dole. Twelve thousand have gone so far this time. Another 18,000 or so expected to go soon.

Now it seems, our new future best friends are to be “hydrogen” and “carbon capture”. We’re to continue sucking the hydrocarbons from under the North Sea, then spend a fortune taking the carbon out, leaving hydrogen. Then we’ll pump the carbon back under the North Sea. Is this feasible at scale? Globally?

A third of North Sea gas comes ashore at St Fergus where by 2024 we “could” be able to remove 340,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year – a measly one 800th of the 280 million tons of greenhouse gasses that were produced by burning North Sea oil and gas last year.

Is Ms Cunningham going to be standing alongside UK Minister Alok Sharma to welcome the COP26 circus to Glasgow this coming year? If so, what leadership is she going to be showing Saudi, Russian, US and Nigerian delegates? Should they follow our lead and maximise economic recovery of their own oil and gas resources? And hope to decarbonise it and pump the carbon back underground?

The updated Climate Change Plan does not look like the Government has the measure of carbon emissions or the oil and gas industry. They all need public scrutiny.

Neil Rothnie, Glasgow.


NICOLA Sturgeon is facing an interesting new year. Brexit has been done, despite her fierce opposition, and this makes re-entry into a much-weakened European Union a much harder sell. The Alex Salmond case has been so delayed by the lack of co-operation that her appearance at the inquiry will be uncomfortably close to May's Holyrood election. Very awkward questions await but in the meantime the coronavirus pandemic has run out of control in the few days she had chosen not to give updates and this is before the Christmas "bounce" has even figured, so thereby questioning her handling of this issue too.

Ms Sturgeon, totally oblivious to her government's poor record in office, is demanding and expecting a seismic win at May's Holyrood election. Is this really still likely?

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.


AMONGST all Nicola Sturgeon’s negativity over the UK-EU tariff-free trade deal, let's remember that Scottish independence, just like Brexit, is principally about sovereignty. The over-arching issue for the SNP, just like Brexiters, is national identity. Ms Sturgeon obsesses over Scottishness and Boris Johnson Britishness – they're cut from a similar cloth.

In the 2014 Scottish referendum, we rejected populist identity politics yet Ms Sturgeon and co remain in power, using Holyrood as a nationalist mouthpiece, ensuring their quest for independence transcends everything.

In contrast, Leavers narrowly won the 2016 UK-wide Brexit referendum – not my preference but we live in a democracy and must move on. With a deal secured, surely it's time now, with so many continuing to die daily here from Covid-19, for the Scottish separatists to put aside their brand of identity politics? It's time to construct bridges, not erect walls.

Martin Redfern, Melrose.


WILLIAM Durward (Letters, December 27) suggests that any future referendum on Scottish independence, if it is to succeed, should be subject to a two-thirds majority. My first thought was: if only this had been the case with the EU Referendum in 2016 then it would have saved Scotland, Northern Ireland and many commercial enterprises, in all parts of the UK from the lunacy of Brexit.

It is interesting to note that this formula of a two-thirds majority is being touted by those of a unionist persuasion as a way of foiling, the legitimate increased demands for Scottish independence.

To those who believe that Westminster rule is some sort of democratic Nirvana, then I would suggest that is clearly not the case and I challenge any unionist supporter to defend the current first past the post system which clearly does not meet the needs of a modern democracy.

Likewise the current system of bovernment by "convention" which is open to abuse, as opposed to a written constitution, which most modern democracies in the 21st century have in statute.

Finally, surely it is time to make the House of Lords fully electable and democratic. If ever the unionist parties and their supporters concede to these fundamental reforms, then changing the rules for any future Scottish referendum might then morally be given some consideration.

Alec Oattes, Ayr,

* THE letter from William Durward (December 27) advocating the case for a two-thirds majority in any future referendum for Scottish independence rather stretches credibility given the example of the narrow Brexit result.

By all means let us debate the merits of the criteria for referenda. However, let us hope that that Dr Durward is “preparing a publication” which is less selective in its examples rather than making the rather distasteful comparison of Scotland as a "pariah state".

Anne Shackleton, Kirkcudbright.


TIM Hopkins, Director of the Equality Network, makes many unsubstantiated claims about LGB Alliance and our recent advertisements in this newspaper (Letters, December 27).

Mr Hopkins claims LGB Alliance “does not represent even a significant minority view among LGBT people in Scotland”. We have the support of tens of thousands of LGB – and yes "T" – people from across the UK, including Scotland. The climate of hostility and abuse towards those who dissent from views like those of Mr Hopkins means many of our supporters are not always able to express their opinion openly.

Mr Hopkins also claims “no-one is telling lesbian, gay, or bisexual people or young people who are gender non-conforming they must be trans”. He either does not hear or has chosen to ignore the voices we hear regularly: lonely and intimidated LGB or gender non-conforming young people who tell us about the pressure on them to transition, and those who have changed their minds.

Mr Hopkins further claims that “no-one is telling lesbians (or anyone else) who they must have relationships with”. A two-minute search on social media would uncover legions of people saying exactly that.

Mr Hopkins’ suggestions that LGB Alliance seeks to “block the availability in schools of positive information about trans people” is another untruth. We are merely opposed to organisations like Stonewall, Mermaids and others being allowed to present pupils with half-truths and fanciful assertions – presented as if they were facts – such as the notion that it is possible to be born in the wrong body.

Mr Hopkins’ complaints about LGB Alliance are part of a pattern of misrepresentation by LGBT groups who seek to undermine critics of their signature campaign: to promote gender self-ID. It’s baffling that this has recently become the priority of LGBT groups, not least because it would undermine LGB rights.

It’s not just LGB people Mr Hopkins is increasingly out of touch with. The gulf between Mr Hopkins and the general public is underlined by the fact he has called for single-sex exemptions to be struck from the Equality Act (2010), which would sweep away single-sex wards in hospitals and allow males into girls’ changing rooms.

We are confident that our adverts – like our mission – are not hateful or transphobic. Rather they represent the voices and concerns of many LGB people and much of the wider public.

Rhona Hotchkiss and Malcolm Clark, LGB Alliance Scotland, Edinburgh.


I’M at a loss regarding the hysteria about a Covid-over-stretched NHS.

Yes ICUs are filling up again as Voris Johnson’s jingoistic gibber-jabber leaves everyone coping as best they can, but hey – come Friday won't the NHS be receiving an additional £350 million extra funding per week? My eldest daughter, a midwife and middle daughter, a doctor, are very much looking forward to it…

Amanda Baker, Edinburgh EH12.