The president of COP26 has insisted that Nicola Sturgeon will “play an important part” in the global climate conference but refused to say whether his government approving plans for a new North Sea oil field would “be a strong example of the climate leadership that he global community is looking for”.

Alok Sharma, a UK Government minister and president-designate of the COP26 summit, refused to be drawn over future oil and gas policy from his Westminster administration.

Speaking to Holyrood’s net zero, energy and transport committee, Mr Sharma was asked “what role do you think the First Minister can play” in the Glasgow summit taking place in November.

He said: “Prime Minister Johnson has said that he wants all the first ministers to play an important part. There is work going on at official level looking on those.

“We want this to be a whole of UK approach and I’m sure that shortly you will hear more from the UK Government on this issue.”

Mr Sharma also confirmed that SNP ministers will form part of the UK delegation at the conference.

He said: “In terms of the involvement of others in government from the devolved administration, there has always been the precedence that as part of the UK delegation, we also have representation from ministers in the devolved administrations. 

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“That will absolutely happen again and in fact, we are in detailed discussions right now which feature the devolved administrations in terms of numbers of people who would join the UK delegation."

“Shortly we’re going to be communicating with the presiding officers in each of the DAs (devolved administrations) in terms of suggesting how members of those legislatures are able to come to COP, to get access on the days that they want to the blue zone.”

Mr Sharma pointed to “a significant amount of international engagement” he has pressed ahead with before the conference, adding that “the overreaching message that we would like to get out of COP” is keeping a commitment agreed by nations at the Paris climate conference to keep global warming below 1.5C “within reach”.

But he warned: “We still need other countries, particularly some of the G20 nations which have not yet come forward with ambitious 2030 emission reduction targets to come forward.”

Mr Sharma stressed nations will be asked for their “plans for adapting to the climate change that is already happening”.

He added: “We are asking developed countries to deliver on their promise of $100 billion a year funds mobilisation to support developing countries. That was supposed to happen every year from 2020 to 2025.

“We are not there yet. We’ve had some significant new money that has been announced by a number of countries but clearly we need to do more. We continue to press the donor countries on this. We are going to be setting out a delivery plan ahead of COP on this.”

Mr Sharma boasted that “people around the world do see the UK as a leader on green growth” adding that this has “allowed us to speak with some authority” to global partners.

He added: “If you look at energy, we’ve now got the biggest offshore wind sector in the world. “We’ve taken the use of coal in the UK energy mix from 40% in 2021 to less than 2% now.”

Scottish Labour’s net zero, energy and transport spokesperson, Monica Lennon, warned Mr Sharma that “the door is closing” on keeping the 1.5C warming limit alive.

She added: “Would rejecting the new Cambo oil field ahead of COP26 be a strong example of the climate leadership that the global community is looking for?”

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But the UK Government minister refused to be drawn on his administration’s oil and gas policy, insisting: “I think in terms of Cambo itself, this is obviously a domestic policy issue that sits with base.”

He added: “A licence for this field was originally awarded back in 2001 and what we’ve been very clear about, in terms of future licences and for them to be compatible with our climate law – the fact that we’re going to net zero by 2050.”

Mr Sharma deferred to the Uk Government’s director general for net zero strategy, Lee McDonough over Cambo.

She said: “Development for proposals for fields that have existing licences are subject to a really rigorous process – there's an environmental impact assessment, a public consultation as well as that scrutiny from the Oil and Gas Authority before consent is provided.

“All future licences will only be granted on the basis that they are compatible with the climate compatibility checkpoint which will come into affect at the end of this year.”

But Ms McDonough suggested that the “climate compatibility of future licensing rounds” will look at the UK’s dependency on domestic fossil fuels versus imported oil and gas rather than phasing out the use.

She said: “It should basically look at industry progressing in the different commitments in the North Sea transition deal – how the UK compares to other oil and gas procurers in terms of reducing emissions associated with production and whether the UK continues to need production to reduce our dependency on imports.”