GLOBAL leaders jetting into Glasgow in November will allow Scotland “to show leadership on climate action on the international stage”, boasted the SNP’s net zero secretary.

Michael Matheson took advantage of the 100 days until COP26 milestone to show off about the SNP’s progress in cutting pesky carbon emissions – insisting that “by highlighting our own action, we hope to inspire others to raise their ambition”.

Absent from his brag, however, was a reluctance to accept that Scotland has missed its annual climate targets for the last three years – including one failure blamed on an extreme bout of Scottish winter weather.

READ MORE: SNP fails to hit greenhouse gas targets for third straight year

Ironically, the 'beast from the east’, caused by climate change – specifically melting Arctic sea ice, has held back Scotland’s action on climate change.

COP26 will shine a spotlight, even if it is an energy-efficient LED, on Scotland. Even the Pope will be flying in for the rescheduled global event despite the world still suffering with Covid.

Politicians will be judged on their action or lack of it and whether any agreement drawn up on the banks of the Clyde averts climate disaster by limiting the rise in global temperatures below a dangerous tipping point.

Promising to save the planet by some point in the future is a stretch from taking the costly, invasive and frankly impractical measures needed to follow through.

The Scottish Government's pledges to cut carbon and clean up the economy are not a demonstration of action. And, as we discovered this week from the First Minister, we shouldn’t always take politicians at their word and instead, should have enough brain power to read between the lines and decipher what they actually mean.

Ministers have set incredibly pushy environmental aims. Under the utopian net zero plan, Scotland will make no contribution to global carbon emissions by 2045 – five years earlier than the UK Government, including aviation and shipping.

READ MORE: Glasgow COP26: Warning 'fault lines remain' on reaching global agreement

The SNP often appears stumped at the prospect of weighing up action to save the planet with safeguarding the economy, hammered by the pandemic.

This perilous balancing act often blinds the SNP on tougher action needed to hit its own climate targets such as sluggish plans to transition the oil and gas sector, reliance on questionable carbon capture proposals and support for expanding Heathrow.

In an even more jaw-dropping display of confidence, MSPs decided we will eliminate 75% of 1990 levels of carbon in just nine years' time.

It took Scotland 30 years to half its carbon emissions and that same scale of progress is needed by the turn of the decade. It won’t be easy.

The blueprint to meet these ambitions was labelled "on the fringes of credibility” by the SNP’s legal adviser, the Climate Change Committee, when chief executive Chris Stark, the Scottish Government’s former director of energy and climate change, appeared before MSPs.

READ MORE: Warning over 'credibility' of SNP's 2030 carbon reduction pledge

Politicians have been infatuated by the buzz phrase taking corporations by storm – net zero– code for ‘we're cleaning up our operations’.

The Prime Minister’s COP26 spokeswoman, Allegra Stratton, shared some ‘micro steps’ this week on how people can play their part in the journey to net zero.

But Ms Stratton was ridiculed for urging people to stop rinsing our plates before sticking them in the dishwasher. Hopefully more ambition will be shown during negotiations at COP26.

The Scottish Government is responsible for environmental policy north of the border, but UK ministers will be largely representing us at the negotiating table at COP26, particularly in their role as hosts.

A scathing report from the Climate Change Committee raised alarm bells last month – warning the UK is kidding itself if it thinks commitments made at the last global climate conference in Paris will be met. The fact the UK Government must play a crucial leadership role at COP26 will leave many fearing disaster.

READ MORE: COP26 Countdown: SNP told to 'up its game' with climate action

The conference’s president-designate, Alok Sharma, another fan of expanding Heathrow, told journalists on Monday it was “disappointing” initial discussions with his global counterparts failed to strike an international deal on ditching coal.

That’s something worth being upset about, but the UK Government was forced into a screeching u-turn earlier this year after initially refusing to halt a new coal mine to be opened in Cumbria and only agreed to a public inquiry after a public backlash.

Mr Sharma has welcomed Unilever as a partner of COP26 – a company that will not have a deforestation-free supply chain until 2023.

Meanwhile, a social media wizard at Alister Jack’s Scotland Office tweeted support for plans to expand the Cambo oil field off the coast of Shetland, despite UK ministers still to determine the controversial fossil fuel proposal.

READ MORE: Cambo oil field: UK Government told to reject Shell's Shetland plans

Hypocrisy on climate flows pretty freely through the UK Government and the Tories will find it difficult to lead by example if any Glasgow agreement is to be reached.

The Scottish Government’s ambition on climate change should not be criticised – voters like politicians who strive to go further. But nothing winds people up like meaningless promises that lead nowhere.

The Scottish Parliament is in the unusual position of being on the cusp reaching a climate consensus.

The Scottish Conservatives at Holyrood may have hugely different priorities than the Greens, particularly on oil and gas, but all 129 MSPs are signed up to reaching the ultimate shared goal.

That potential for cooperation must lead to action and COP26, seen as one of the last opportunities for global commitments to be agreed before it’s too late, needs credible leadership to really put Glasgow on the map.