NIGEL Topping is the UK Government’s High Level Climate Action Champion at COP26. An important role, and I listened to him being interviewed on The World at One (November 2).

He was asked to justify the fact that some 400 private jets have landed at Glasgow Airport, carrying world leaders and delegates to the talks. In response, he said he would of course have preferred if they’d used electric aircraft, “which exist now, they’ve been developed”. Having spent 40 years flying aircraft for a living, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

There are numerous research projects aimed at developing a viable electric passenger aeroplane, but none is far advanced. It’s unlikely that electric aircraft like those currently used to fly to London or to the Med on holiday will be produced, unless there’s an enormous technical breakthrough.

Currently, I think there’s only one electric aeroplane certified for flight by the European Aviation Safety Agency; it’s a two-seater, flying at 100 mph and, after allowing for contingencies, with a range of about 50 miles. After accounting for recharging time, I estimate it would have taken Angela Merkel at least three or four days to fly from Berlin to Glasgow in this aeroplane. And, given the cramped seating in a small aeroplane and the turbulent levels it flies at, she’d have needed a day or two to recover before participating in any meetings.

There is little hope for progress on tackling climate change, or any of the other great challenges we face, when those who lead us are ignorant of science and technology. Boris Johnson studied Classics at Oxford; Rishi Sunak studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford; Deputy PM Dominic Raab studied Law at Oxford; Liz Truss studied PPE at Oxford; Michael Gove studied English at – yes, you guessed it: Oxford.

Where are the engineers and scientists who understand technology? Where is the diversity of thought that can develop credible solutions to current challenges? Where is the understanding of how people who didn’t go to Oxford actually live? We won’t fix our climate or the scandal of endemic poverty in the UK until we fix our political class. We need fewer Oxford elitists and many more practical, numerate doers.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.


VERY occasionally, you publish letters that purport to present scientific matters, presumably to represent both sides of an argument. This is reminiscent of the BBC, constantly asking Nigel Lawson about climate change when he knew nothing about the subject. It no longer does so, because denials of the effect of humans on the climate no longer carry any weight. I might write to say that 2+2 = 3 but that does not represent a valid argument.

Bill Brown (Letters, November 2) says that, referring to climate change, "much of the so-called science is full of suppositions and estimates". This is simply wrong. It is simple to show that energy from the sun gets trapped by the Earth's atmosphere as heat and that increasing amounts of carbon dioxide trap more heat. It is indisputable that burning coal, oil and gas produces carbon dioxide and we can measure the concentration in the atmosphere. We can also measure the temperature of the atmosphere and of the sea, both of which are going up, year by year.

Going back to the 1980s, the only prediction the climate scientists made was that the Earth would suffer more extremes of weather. In 2021 nobody would deny that they were right. We can also say, with absolute certainty, that sea levels are rising and the polar ice caps are melting.

We are facing the biggest challenge in our history. To deny the challenge because it is expensive and inconvenient is not sensible.

Roger Waigh, Helensburgh.


I REFER to DB Watson's letter (November 3), which details the widespread dissemination of misinformation by people who are prioritising personal approval over the welfare of the nation. At this critical time when all of our minds are concentrating on the challenges of global warming and how to counteract it, it is counterproductive to mislead the public with disingenuous semantics. I can understand why companies investing in renewable technologies and ScottishPower would wish to present a commercially advantageous image. However, it is totally unacceptable that our Government ministers are involved in spreading misleading information.

It is utterly irresponsible and ultimately very damaging because it undermines any prospect of Scotland, or the UK, achieving really effective green solutions which are economically supportable along with minimum economic risk. The nation's health is not in good hands at present.

I appreciate it is counter-intuitive to the general public but renewable energy, although becoming less expensive, is far from the cheapest form and always will be. If this fact is not widely understood we will fail, as a nation, to deal with the economic challenges and suffer real economic hardship in the future.

Above all we need honesty and integrity if we are to survive as a viable country. Our children deserve better.

Norman McNab, Killearn.


BRIAN Wilson ("Nationalists need to understand the difference between nation and state", The Herald, November 3) acknowledges that Scotland is a nation, but can't seem to make the connection that most nations of the world are independent and manage their own affairs. Their delegates are presently to be found in Glasgow, a city in a nation that is not a member of the United Nations, although it is significant that Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, has praised the Scottish Government for its ambitious targets to tackle climate change.

Perusing Mr Wilson's article I was struck by his statement that "I can readily point to areas of UK Government policy that should, in my view, be amended in recognition of factors of more interest to Scotland than to other parts of the country"; he doesn't actually record them all, perhaps he ran out of space, but he does make it clear that he would rather involve Tory UK ministers, who were not elected by voters in Scotland, rather than Scottish Government ministers, who were elected by voters in Scotland.

Something Mr Wilson certainly doesn't mention is Trident weapons of mass destruction in Scottish waters, which surely can't be good for the environment, although if they were ever deployed the world wouldn't need to worry any more about climate change.

I have only once in my life given a Labour politician a standing ovation. The occasion was at a meeting in Bishopbriggs, where a highly principled young politician called Brian Wilson spoke passionately and with absolute conviction of the horrors of having nuclear weapons in our land. I wonder what happened to him, and to the party he represented?

Ruth Marr, Stirling.


BRIAN Wilson argues that Scotland is swimming against the tide of recent history by wishing to become an independent nation. He ignores the contradictory evidence of the numerous nations which have become states, and have established themselves in Europe in the last 100 or so years, I'll mention one, Norway, as an example.

Most Scots were happy enough to be a nation within a bigger union of nations, known as the European Union. England, however, another nation (although it behaves like a state) wasn't and its Brexit vote overwhelmed all the other nations, including Wales, which is now regretting its Leave vote, not that it would have made a difference given the huge imbalance in favour of England in the politics of the UK.

And by what logic does Mr Wilson claim that because Bavaria is happy to remain German that Scotland is therefore obliged to shut up and remain British, if at any time in the future we Scots decide differently?

John Jamieson, Ayr.


THE Scottish NHS is not just in crisis, it is heading for critical care. Shocking A&E waiting times, a lack of hospital beds, operations cancelled, cancer care starting to be neglected, a GP crisis and now an even bigger crisis in NHS dentistry. Humza Yousaf's response appears to be the usual one of more money being spent ("Yousaf announces extra £10m to boost hard-hit A&E departments", The Herald, November 2) but if so, on what? You cannot magic extra experienced staff out of thin air.

It is not only Mr Yousaf who ought to take the blame. Once again our First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has taken both eyes off the ball, one focusing on being the most eco-friendly politician on Earth, the other on independence. It is no wonder our precious Scottish NHS is being neglected. Priorities for the SNP need to change and fast, if it is not too late already.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.

Read more: Scotland cannot meet its climate targets while part of the UK