Cop26: Boris Johnson accused of undermining climate president at 'every turn'

Glasgow’s council leader claims prime minister is only interested in 'wacky' photo opportunities

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 30: Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street for Prime Minister's Questions on October 30, 2019 in London, England. Last night, MPs voted 438 to 20 votes in favour of holding a General Election on Thursday 12th December 2019. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
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The Cop26 president is being “undermined at every turn” by Boris Johnson, Glasgow’s council leader has said.

Addressing the SNP conference, Susan Aitken accused the prime minister of only being interested in environmental projects for “wacky photo" opportunities.

The SNP councillor said she believed the Conservative minister responsible for Cop26, Alok Sharma, was working hard to secure an agreement to tackle the climate emergency at next month’s conference in Glasgow, but was being hindered by Mr Johnson.

COP26 President Alok Sharma at Whitelee Windfarm, Glasgow, Scotland. Reuters / Russell Cheyne / Pool / File Photo

“Cop26 President Alok Sharma is, I believe, doing his level best to secure a Glasgow agreement worthy of the name, but he’s undermined at every turn by his party leader who’s only really interested in green infrastructure as something to stick a union flag on and pose beside for a wacky photo op," she said.

“But Glasgow, Scotland and the SNP can lead the way, and Cop26 can give us a pivotal moment to do so.

“We know what the prize is: clean air, local food security, an end to fuel poverty, better, cheaper public transport, green spaces for all and sustainable high-value skills and jobs in a resilient modern economy.”

The UK is hosting the Cop26 climate summit in November in Glasgow.

Ms Aitken said it will showcase Scotland's work to the world.

“We still have an incredible opportunity to put Glasgow and Scotland in the global front window for sustainability, to showcase not only our climate ambition but also our practical plans to lead the world and delivering a just transition to zero-carbon economy and society," she said.

“Scotland’s climate action, ambitions and policy agenda, our growing international reputation for business and technological innovation, the challenges from our past that we’re overcoming, our incredible wealth of natural assets, I don’t think any other region on Earth has such a platform to showcase ourselves and our ambitions, this year, as Scotland does.”

The council leader said an early estimate of the cost to decarbonise Glasgow was £30 billion.

“We need to be clear that this is not only necessary, it’s worth it," she said.

“Not only because if we don’t respond to the climate emergency now, the cost later, and not just the financial cost, will be so much higher.

“But also because we understand that, done well, every pound spent on these interventions will also deliver multiple benefits for Scotland’s people and communities.”

Updated: September 11, 2021, 1:19 PM