Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Katie Gallogly-Swan: Scotland must raise our voice to help ensure world’s poorest countries do not bear the greatest burden in climate emergency

© Andrew CawleyKatie Gallogly-Swan of the Just Transition Commission
Katie Gallogly-Swan of the Just Transition Commission

The unfairness is obvious: the poorest countries in the world are bearing the greatest burden for a climate crisis they played no part in creating.

For those countries, climate change means destroyed livelihoods, lost communities, and forced migration but their climate footprint is dwarfed by wealthier countries. The average person in the UK, for example, emits around 26 times the average person in Mozambique.

Many countries, including Scotland, built their wealth through the historic exploitation of fossil fuels and the natural resources of formerly colonised regions. Poor countries will now not be able to follow the same carbon-intensive route to development while being left in crisis with little support from the wealthiest, most-emitting regions.

The Scottish Government has committed to deliver a “just transition” domestically, encouraging the country to decarbonise and builds a climate resilient economy in a way that delivers fairness and tackles inequality and injustice. But if we are to uphold the spirit of this ambition, it would require looking beyond our borders: as a global crisis that knows no borders, the climate challenge requires a globally coordinated and cooperative approach.

A Just Transition Commission report published last week laid out how Scotland can play a role in enabling every region and nation to achieve their own just transitions, where climate, economic, health and social outcomes are maximised.

The first act of climate internationalism is to accelerate decarbonisation. Bringing down domestic emissions will help prevent the worst impacts of global warming, while investing in low-carbon and renewable research, development and technologies will aid the global dissemination of green expertise. The Scottish Government could go further by working in partnership with developing countries to help them build their own domestic industries and regional resilience.

But our decarbonisation policies must avoid triggering negative economic, climate or social elsewhere, particularly in the Global South.

For example, focusing transport decarbonisation only on increasing electric vehicle uptake will add to the severe pressures on mineral extraction. Any domestic strategy must be stress-tested to ensure objectives are not met by transferring carbon emissions, exploitation, human rights abuses or economic harm.

The Scottish Government can become a champion of a just transition, raising its voice to advance a more equitable approach to global climate diplomacy, advocating for the UK government and other rich economies to meet the real financial needs of developing countries, including debt forgiveness and restructuring for those suffering relentless waves of pandemic and climate shocks.

The ultimate ambition of climate justice is nothing short of a transformation of global governance. Critical institutions that make up the global financial system such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation have failed to deliver a more equal, prosperous and stable planet.

Their mission, policy and governance must be tuned to the needs of a climate-challenged world. The Scottish Government can stand up for a renewed multilateralism built on core principles of interdependence, resilient development, and climate justice. No country alone can ensure an international just transition but if we plan to keep our climate justice commitments, Scotland can – and must – step up.


Katie Gallogly-Swan is a policy co-ordinator at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development