COP26 – Scotland’s place at the top table

As the COP26 summit draws to a close, there is much debate about what has and hasn’t been achieved in the fight against climate change.


But what is not in any doubt is that Glasgow and Scotland are on the global map after the UK’s presidency of the conference brought it to our largest city.


It’s yet another example of how we benefit from being part of the United Kingdom.


Bringing people together


The gathering of the world’s most influential people, alongside the greatest minds when it comes to protecting our planet, has propelled Glasgow onto the world stage.


The legacy of COP26 will ensure that Glasgow remains one of the globe’s most powerful and innovative cities.


At the very heart of a dynamic United Kingdom, Glasgow has shown the world it has what it takes.


Its unmistakable skyline has featured on news bulletins across the world, beaming into the living rooms of billions.


The city is now synonymous with bringing people together for the collective good – the very opposite of nationalism.


As former US president Barack Obama told his audience on Monday: “I recognise we are living in a moment when international co-operation has waned, a moment of great geopolitical tension and stress, in part because of the pandemic, in part because of the rise of nationalism and tribal impulses around the world.”


Obama is right to highlight the scourge of nationalism on sensible, progressive politics.

When important political decisions are made through the limited lens of nationalism, then we miss out on crucial opportunities for people, parties and countries to work together.


Nationalism won’t get Scotland to net zero.


Our best chance to achieve that is by remaining at the top table, exerting our influence, and delivering the change we want and need to see at home and across the world.


An economic dividend for Scotland


Aside from the climate deals and the prestige that COP26 has brought to Glasgow, there have been clear economic benefits too.


As well as a spending injection of £100 million to help key services throughout the crunch fortnight, hotels, bars, restaurants and shop owners have enjoyed a much-needed surge too.


While the failings of the SNP-run council have shown the city in a bad light, Glaswegians have pulled together to lay on their famous welcome to the rest of the world.


Nicola Sturgeon may have embarked upon her own selfie-tour of the venue, but it’s the people of Glasgow who have proved the true world leaders.


In the run up to COP26 we were reminded about just how important Scotland’s relationship is with the rest of the UK.


The latest export figures revealed that Scotland’s trade with the rest of the UK had risen by 5% in the space of a year, amounting to 60% of all exports.


That’s vital for jobs and businesses here in Scotland, and buying and selling local UK produce is also good for the environment.


In fact, the UK market has now been worth almost half a trillion pounds to our businesses in the last ten years alone.


That’s £500 billion a decade that the nationalists want to put at risk by throwing up borders and boundaries in front of people and the jobs they depend upon.


Instead, by choosing unity over division, we can build a brighter future – and a greener one.

This week has reminded us all that we are weaker when we are ruled by politics focussed on nationalism and division, and we are stronger when we work together for a better future.