IN many ways the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow last November set the scene for what we need to see in 2022. Calls for “less talk, more action” rang out from school strikers to many business leaders. Global negotiations to cut carbon have taken place annually since 1990 yet we’ve seen global emissions nearly double in that time. It’s now 2022 and scientists advise that we must halve our annual emissions by 2030 – there is a lot of work to do.

So, what can we expect in 2022? Well, the COP26 ‘Glasgow Pact’ sent a positive signal that nations remain committed to the landmark goals agreed in Paris in 2015. In the run up to COP27 in Egypt we need to see improved pledges on emissions reductions and climate finance. Scotland played its part with ambitious targets and support for less-developed countries. But as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned at COP26, the bar of world leadership is set far too low.

While we have climate ambition here in Scotland, we desperately need to prioritise the actions required to deliver on our targets.

Reform of food and farming is vital to reducing our carbon emissions and impact on nature. It was good to see the long-promised Good Food Nation Bill laid in the Scottish Parliament last autumn and a commitment to new agriculture legislation in 2023. These Bills could lay the foundations for a truly transformational food system and agriculture sector that is good for farmers and good for climate and nature.

We must also turn our land from a net carbon source into a carbon sink. This must include concrete plans and timelines to end extraction and sale of peat-based composts to protect one of our most important carbon-rich habitats- which is also home to an amazing range of Scottish species like red listed merlin, hen harrier and curlew as well as newts, frogs and lizards.

Cutting pollution from our leaky and draughty buildings and helping people stay warm in more energy efficient homes is another high priority. Details must be provided this year on how all homes will be required, and supported, to meet a minimum standard of energy efficiency from 2025. The current skyrocketing price of gas makes it all the more urgent that this commitment, long in the making, is now delivered.

2022 is also a key deadline for the Scottish Government, working with other UK nations, to set out the future for sustainable fishing, including how the industry can reduce climate change impacts while still protecting communities and livelihoods. Unique marine life, and carbon stored in our seas, must also be protected as work starts to designate Highly Protected Marine Areas.

These actions aren’t just vital for the climate – many of the measures needed will have positive outcomes for health, tackling fuel poverty and other social impacts. Crucially, these will provide opportunities for new green jobs as we seek to adapt and recover from Covid 19. It’s a big year ahead, and we need to be up to the challenge.

Lang Banks, Director, WWF Scotland