As COP26 finishes, we can’t take our foot off the pedal of climate action. We’re in a climate emergency but many of those attending the conference have felt it’s not been given the urgency an emergency deserves.

For a charity that routinely speaks up for the poorest countries, this was a unique opportunity to help our partners from Malawi, Zambia and Colombia to speak directly to power here in Scotland, including meetings with the First Minister. They are experiencing the climate emergency now and have shared what their communities are dealing with including floods, droughts and food insecurity.

SCIAF came with three aims for global leaders, with the backing of thousands of our supporters:

1. Take necessary action to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees

2. Provide climate finance to protect the poorest

3. Make COP accessible to those from the Global South

At the time of writing, the negotiations are still underway. We have seen a series of announcements so far around phasing out coal, deforestation, reducing methane emissions and ending finance to fossil fuels. But it’s not enough to keep warming within the 1.5-degree limit. It’s clear that we all need to do more at a much faster pace.

In 2009, world leaders committed US$100 billion per year to help those facing the consequences of the climate crisis adapt and reduce emissions. Rich nations have failed to deliver on this promise and very little of that pledged so far is to help communities adapt to climate change.

On a positive note, we’ve seen Nicola Sturgeon make history in Glasgow with the Scottish Government becoming the first country to commit to finance for people who have suffered irreversible losses and will now have to create new lives for themselves. It has also increased the Climate Justice Fund.

We’re thankful to the First Minister for meeting with so many of our partners this past week. Following the Glasgow Climate Dialogues – a series of discussions designed to listen to the Global South – she has championed climate justice, and made it clear that the money given to help countries is not charity but “reparations” and the debt we owe to them for the damage our emissions have caused.

The rest of the world needs to follow the Scottish Government’s lead so we don’t turn our back on the world’s poorest people.

However, for the Scottish Government to be a true global leader on climate change, we need to see a greater commitment to transition away from fossil fuels. There was a missed opportunity when Scotland did not join the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance this week.

Looking past COP26, SCIAF will continue to work on this issue. We will push for the necessary action in Scotland and at the global level, and work with our partners on programmes like the Climate Challenge Programme Malawi, which received additional funding from the Scottish Government this week.

COP26 may be over but we’re still in a climate emergency and the world needs to treat it that way.

Dr Geraldine Hill, Advocacy Manager, Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund

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