Colin Beattie reflects on COP26

Monday November 15th 2021

Colin Beattie MSP
Colin Beattie MSP, Midlothian North & Musselburgh, writes his monthly column for Midlothian View

This month focused on COP26 where our world leaders and delegates had the opportunity to join to discuss our climate and face the issues which are imminent to us all.

Hosting COP26 in Glasgow was a great opportunity for Scotland to demonstrate our climate leadership on the global stage. The outcome of COP26 is the Glasgow Climate Pact. The summit has made progress on some important issues but understandably some were left disappointed that not their wants and need were included in this.

I feel now that it is important that we do not lose the momentum on addressing the issues of climate change and start putting all our commitments into action.

It was shocking to learn that around 80% of Scotland’s carbon footprint comes from all the goods, materials and services which we produce, use and sadly, often throw out after just one use. Last week, the Scottish Government announced that legislation has been laid which will see Scotland ban some of the most environmentally damaging single-use plastic items, with the ban coming into effect on 1 June 2022. Scotland is the first nation in the United Kingdom to commit to addressing this issue on single use plastic and pursue a ban.

Scotland was also proudly the first country to introduce a dedicated Climate Justice Fund and the Scottish Government are doubling their commitment to this fund to £24 million. Part of this fund will provide £1 million to support a partnership with the Climate Justice Resilience Fund to help communities repair and rebuild from climate-related events, such as flooding and wild fires. It is important that we help vulnerable communities tackle the impact of climate change which the fund intends to do.

Commitment such as these really demonstrates Scotland’s forward thinking and inclusive approach to tackling climate change.

There is a key emphasis on investment and this must be made to ensure these greener alternatives are affordable for everyone. By making bus travel free for under 22s across Scotland, opportunities for young people to work, travel and study are being opened up for them. Not only does this take pressure off young people and their families’ finances but helps in our journey to net zero. I know this move will truly benefit my young constituents and hope this encourages them to make the change to public and shared transport as a main method of transport in the future.

I re-emphasise that we can all play our part. Making a difference in your daily life or tackling pre-existing climate issues in your community are just examples of how you can help. This week I chaired the Esk River Improvement Group (ERIG). This Group aims to look at the overall health of the River Esk and bring together those who are already working to make improvements to the quality of the water. It has now been running and meeting regularly – albeit virtually for over a year and has really given local community group and key stakeholders such as SEPA, the Coal Authority and Scottish Water a platform of discussion and communication to flag and address issues. If any of my constituents would like to stay updated, please email my office at to join our mailing list. Recent minutes are also available on my website.

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