COP27 has delivered a very mixed outcome. On the one hand, in a true breakthrough, it finally saw the acknowledgement by developed countries of our responsibility to support those experiencing the impacts of climate change first and worst. In the final throes of COP27, agreement on a loss and damage fund was reached after 30 years of perseverance and campaigning by many dedicated individuals. Scotland was very pleased to play its small part in that, being the first country to make a financial contribution for loss and damage for last year. On the other hand, COP27 was deeply disappointing: we did not make the progress that was needed on actions to limit warming to 1.5°, the transition away from fossil fuels, adaptation and other things. Countries must recommit themselves urgently to progress on those areas.
I thank the minister for attending the COP in Egypt. Although there was one step forwards, to address loss and damage, there were two steps backwards on fossil fuels. There was a clear failure to commit to any phasing out of oil and gas. Arguably, COP27 has left the goal of 1.5° dead.
Right now, fossil fuel companies are using the energy charter treaty to sue Governments for hundreds of millions of pounds if they introduce policies or laws that limit the use of coal, oil and gas. However, at COP27, Germany joined the call for the collective withdrawal of countries from the treaty. Does the minister agree that the energy charter treaty is now beyond reform, and will ministers raise the issue with the United Kingdom secretary of state?
I am aware of criticisms of the energy charter treaty and concerns that it poses a barrier to policies combating climate change. I am also aware of the risks in relation to the topic that were recently set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The Scottish Government is already in contact with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy about the current ECT renegotiations, with a view to identifying and mitigating any impacts on Scotland. We are very clear that no part of a trade or investment agreement should limit the ability of the Scottish Parliament to regulate in devolved areas, or constrain much-needed action to achieve our net zero goal.
I thank the minister for that very clear response. The issuing of more than 100 oil and gas licences by the UK Government is reckless and hampers the just transition at the point when investment urgently needs to switch to renewables. The First Minister has previously said that the Cambo oilfield should not be given the go ahead. Does the minister agree that the Rosebank licence should also not be granted?
The Scottish Government has previously made it very clear that we do not agree with the UK Government issuing new oil and gas licences. That is not a viable answer to either the energy cost crisis or the climate crisis—the answer to both of those is rapid investment in and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
We have also made clear our view that the proposed climate compatibility test from the UK Government is not fit for purpose and that, before any development takes place, a robust, stringent climate compatibility test, including both domestic and international compatibility with the Paris agreement, should be introduced.
On that, I ask members to consider our actions as well as our words. The Scottish Government’s approach is best seen in such a way because while the UK Government looks to license oil and gas, Scotland looks to the expansion of offshore wind, as reflected in the lease options awarded to ScotWind earlier this year.
It is undeniable that the leadership role of the Scottish Government at COP26 on pushing the momentum of the loss and damage fund was pivotal. Does the minister agree that the thanks should go to all those countries that have campaigned for it for years? Does she agree that the global north cannot and must not think that 1.5° on life support is some kind of result for COP27, for those countries or for anyone else?
I agree with Fiona Hyslop. I was very pleased to communicate that with global south communities and the media when I attended COP27. As I said, Scotland is very proud of the small part that we played—as a global north country, we stood up to say that we accept that we have been enriched by the processes that are now causing climate change and that we have a responsibility to those who are being impacted. That has come about after 30 years of campaigning by activists, and by those in the global south and low-lying nations, who, in the face of continuing inaction have shown perseverance—the examples of the flooding in Pakistan and the drought across the Horn of Africa remind us all why those groups have remained so committed. However, we need continued action on 1.5°, because loss and damage will only get worse should the world fail to take the action needed to keep global warming below that temperature.
We are still designing the criteria for that £5 million, and I will be more than happy to update Liam Kerr in the chamber when we have done that. However, we have already set out that it will address the underfunded areas of non-economic loss and damage, slow onset loss and damage and the extent to which loss and damage disproportionately impact women. As I said, I will be more than happy to set out those details when they have been agreed.
Despite some modest steps on support for climate-vulnerable countries, on the crucial issue of keeping warming to 1.5°C, COP27 has failed, and we are heading for a disastrous 2.8°C. We need to demonstrate to the world that climate leadership at home does not just mean setting targets but meeting them, which we are failing to do. How can cutting the energy efficiency budget by £133 million instead of tackling why it is not being utilised show leadership, given the shameful level of fuel poverty in Scotland and knowing that properly insulating our homes not only cuts fuel bills but cuts fuel use and therefore emissions?
Energy efficiency is absolutely at the core of the Scottish Government’s plan not only to combat climate change but to rise to the challenges of the cost of living crisis. I note that energy efficiency was very absent from the requisite UK Government plans
Scotland has, and is internationally recognised for having, some of the most stringent climate targets in the world, which are set by the Parliament as a whole. We are making good progress against them—we are already more than halfway to net zero—but we are never complacent, and we will continue to plan stringently right across our economy and society for how we meet our emissions reduction envelopes, not least through Scotland’s enormous renewable energy, but also through nature-based solutions, which I am pleased to have oversight of.
On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Further to my exchange with the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, I would like to clarify my remarks. I have reviewed the quote from Paul Gray, and I want to make it explicitly clear that, in writing for Reform Scotland on 4 October 2021, he said:
“The current system was going to be overwhelmed regardless of Covid.”
He made no explicit reference to the competence or otherwise of the Government; that was my inference, and I want to make it absolutely clear that I am not putting words into the former chief executive’s mouth. However, it is clear that he believed that this crisis was always coming.