Scotland should host an “extravaganza of climate justice” events in the lead up to Cop26, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has said.
The UN climate summit will take place in Glasgow in November, bringing more than 100 countries together to plan how environmental problems can be tackled.
While unveiling his own climate change plans at a ScottishPower workshop in Cumbernauld on Thursday, Mr Sarwar said the summit will be key to forging international relationships and creating a so-called Glasgow agreement, similar to the Paris climate accord signed at Cop21 in 2015.
He told the PA news agency: “This requires international co-operation, it requires us to have internationalism, where we look outwards and build those relationships and not looking inwards and just focusing on what’s happening in our own nation.
“That means us working together across the UK, it also means building those relationships internationally, and I want us to take those opportunities in November when it comes to Cop26.”
Mr Sarwar said the summit presents a chance to drive home how serious the issue is to people across Scotland in the lead up to the talks.
He said: “We have an opportunity with Cop26 in November, and as lockdown starts to ease and our country starts to open up again, to have our own extravaganza of climate justice plans across the whole of the country where we engage young people, where we engage families, and we actually have events across the country to make people understand how serious this is and make that opportunity, build those relationships and hopefully have a good agreement when we come out in November.”
Scottish Labour’s environmental plans, outlined ahead of the election on May 6, put the focus on upgrading homes to ensure energy efficiency ratings of at least C across the country by 2030.
The party has pledged grants for low and middle income households to make the necessary changes, while those in fuel poverty or living in rural areas would be given an interest free loan of up to £18,000.
The plans also include establishing a “Just Transition Commission” which would chart the path away from the use of fossil fuels, while also creating a body to map the use of renewable energy and withholding approval for new offshore wind farms that do not meet requirements for jobs in Scotland.
When asked how much the strategy would cost, Mr Sarwar was unable to say, but he added: “It’s more expensive not to act.
“I’m not going to deny that this is going to be an expensive policy over the next five years – we’re already making some progress, but I don’t think that progress is fast enough.
“If we recognise we have to invest in our economy, we have to get people back to work, having our climate principles around that is so, so crucial.”
Mr Sarwar was also asked about his policy on upgrading homes, and why Labour proposed loans rather than grants for those in fuel poverty.
He said: “If you give a loan to allow people to make their homes more carbon-neutral that will bring down their energy prices.
“They will pay less in energy and therefore people will be making a net saving through the scheme rather than being penalised by the scheme.”
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