IF you view COP26 as the ‘last chance’ to avoid 1.5C of global warming it was a resounding failure; if you view it as part of a tortuous, imperfect, social, economic, political and moral process, don’t give up just yet – the 1.5C target is alive but on life support.

The Glasgow Climate Pact agreed at COP26 acknowledges the science of climate change; it speaks the language of emergency; but does not contain the action required to meet that emergency. Countries agreed emissions cuts but not nearly sufficient to keep the planet within 1.5C. However, they are due to revisit and strengthen their 2030 emissions targets by the end of 2022 (not 2025 as it would otherwise have been). In other words, next year is where the life support, and ‘targets’ fight, will continue.

‘Accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal and inefficient fuel subsidies’ is an uninspiring, weak passage but, however unsatisfactory, it is critical and a signal. That signal must be followed by the rapid phase out of all fossil fuels. Offers have been made on methane, deforestation and finance, that, if fulfilled, could buy some breathing space. The United States and China have said they will cooperate. Let’s see if they do.

Our house is on fire because rich countries pushed, and continue to push, petrol infused rags through the planetary letter box. Rich countries must provide finance to those who have not caused the damage – the countries of the global south – to help them minimise their emissions, adapt to change and pay for damage already caused. That is not an act of charity it is an act of reparation and justice. Yet climate finance promises from the developed world to the developing world have not been met. If we don’t provide the finance we won’t deserve, or get, the emissions reductions we desperately need.

As for Scotland, we were acclaimed as good, welcoming hosts of COP26. Through the Glasgow Climate Dialogues, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland in partnership with the Scottish Government, gave a platform for otherwise too-much excluded voices from the global south to be heard. The Dialogues led to Scotland calling out the injustice of rich countries not paying for the loss and damage we have caused the global south. Since COP26 our government’s welcome opposition to the proposed new oil field at Cambo has been made clearer. Following on, in 2022 Scotland needs to deliver strong action with climate plans that deliver on our climate targets, remembering we have missed the last three.

‘Code red for humanity,’ ‘existential crisis,’ ‘climate emergency,’ are proportionate phrases to use in our situation. We need a proportionate, urgent response from leaders. Hundreds of thousands of people from every age and walk of life marched on the streets of the world demanding action during COP26 (including a massive number in Glasgow). This speaks of hope, determination and momentum.

We know where the right side of history is. Wouldn’t it be great to be on it.

Tom Ballantine is chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland