Humza Yousaf, the first minister of Scotland, visited New York to attend a climate change conference. In his keynote speech, he highlighted Scotland’s commitment to addressing the climate crisis and transitioning to a net-zero society. Yousaf emphasized the responsibility of wealthier nations to support countries in the Global South that are disproportionately affected by climate change.
During the conference, Yousaf announced additional funding to support victims of Storm Freddie in Malawi and pledged £7 million to countries severely impacted by the climate crisis. He stressed that Scotland aims to become the world’s net-zero capital and urged other nations to join them in taking action.
Transport, Net Zero, and Just Transition Minister Mairi McCarran acknowledged the need to reduce travel and have direct conversations about climate change solutions. The Scottish government has previously pledged £24 million through its Climate Justice Fund to support projects in Malawi, Rwanda, and Zambia.
Scotland aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045, with cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh setting even more ambitious targets for 2030. However, funding remains a challenge, and both city councils have expressed concerns about meeting their goals without sufficient financial support.
Achieving net-zero emissions will require significant investment, and the public sector alone cannot fund the transition. Private funding and progressive taxation strategies will play a crucial role in financing the necessary changes. McCarran criticized the UK government for outdated policies and called for more radical action.
Regarding Scotland’s largest undeveloped oilfield, Rosebank, off the coast of the Shetland Islands, McCarran clarified that the Scottish government does not have the authority to decide on licenses. The UK government’s evidence-based approach includes strict climate suitability tests before proceeding with oil extraction projects.
Oxfam Scotland urged the government to increase taxes on oil and gas companies and the extremely wealthy to fund climate justice initiatives. They acknowledged the practical need for air travel but emphasized the importance of taking responsibility for emissions and gradually increasing taxes on frequent fliers.
The UK government defended its measures to reduce emissions, highlighting windfall taxes on oil and gas companies and the country’s progress in renewable energy and nuclear power investments. They stated that the UK is a world leader in the transition to net-zero emissions.