International action on climate change

Climate change and nature loss are the greatest threats facing people and our planet and we’re already seeing the impact here in Scotland. The scientific report published on 9 August by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes absolutely clear the severe threat and heightened risk the climate emergency poses to the planet. However, it also shows that with immediate, concerted international action to reduce emissions, it is still possible to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C in the longer term. COP26 is the world’s best chance to deliver a global deal that supports the goals of the Paris Agreement and delivers lasting action towards a resilient Net Zero future in a way that is fair and just.

Scotland's commitment

For Scotland, our international work on climate change is about action that meets our promises - and tackles the climate and nature crises; it’s about putting people at the heart of all we do, through a just transition and building a wellbeing-led and equal net zero society; and it’s about the core values of justice, fairness and solidarity that we hold as a nation. 

The climate and nature crises are intrinsically linked. A warming climate is bad for nature. And restoring nature and investing in nature based solutions can make a significant contribution to meeting our emissions targets and helping our communities and wildlife adapt to the climate change that is already happening. 

Alongside our ambitious emissions reduction plans, we are also taking a people-centric approach to ensuring that Scotland is prepared for the impacts of climate change which are already locked in.  We are using the best evidence and working with business, community and wider public sector leaders to address the heightened risks here in Scotland.  And we are supporting resilience internationally through our Climate Justice Fund, which recognises that those who have done the least to cause climate change often feel the worst of its impacts.

We want to lead by example, using our values, experience and global commitment to play our full part. It’s vital that countries like ours take our share of responsibility in finding solutions to the climate emergency, learning from other nations, sharing our own learning and inspiring others – from governments to businesses, universities, communities and individuals – with what’s possible for all our good.

We will continue to put people at the heart of our international climate action through our focus on climate justice and raising up the voices of communities and institutions in the Global South.

We take a climate justice approach to support for developing countries become more resilient to climate change. Climate Justice has been enshrined into the recent Climate Change Act 2019, as future Climate Change Plans must have regard for the principles of climate justice. 

Scotland is involved in the following international programmes and organisations aimed at tackling climate change and increasing sustainability worldwide:

Climate justice

We recognise poor and vulnerable communities are the first and most severely affected by climate change, yet have done little or nothing to cause the problem. 

Our climate justice approach tackles embedded inequalities and supports developing countries become more resilient to climate change – particularly through our Climate Justice Fund.

In March 2021, we announced an independent evaluation of the Climate Justice Funds work to date in delivering climate justice objectives to help inform how we best support climate justice initiatives beyond 2021. In recognition that communities in the Global South are the first to be affected by climate change, and will suffer the worst, our evaluation has been built on the experiences of communities in Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda who have implemented or are supported by the Fund first hand.

International engagement

As part of Scotland's climate outreach, we are active in a number of initiatives to increase participation in the global climate debate and develop a greater understanding of the key challenges in transitioning to a low carbon economy. Some of these initiatives are listed below.

Cooperation agreement with the Government of California

The First Minister and Governor Jerry Brown of California signed a joint agreement in 2017 committing both governments to work together to tackle climate change. This includes cooperation on offshore wind renewable energy and continued support for the Under2 Coalition and its MoU objectives.

Gender action

Scotland is championing international efforts to promote gender equality within the global climate debate. 

On International Women’s Day 2021 we announced a new partnership with the Women’s Environment and Development Organization to address gender equality in climate action and support the Women Delegates Fund promote equal participation in global climate decision making.

Youth action

At the Austrian World Summit 2021 the First Minister announced £190,000 funding for the Malawi Climate Leaders Programme to amplify youth voices in Malawi in the run up to and during COP26.

Malawi’s Climate Leaders, has built a network of young people in Malawi to lead in advocating for action on climate change. The programme develops young leaders’ abilities to interpret and use climate information in decision-making and ensure that youth voices are heard in global discussions. The current programme will establish a COP Hub in Malawi, to make COP accessible to Malawian youth and community leaders. 

Under2 Coalition

Scotland is an active member of the Under2 Coalition, a global community of state and regional governments committed to ambitious climate action in line with the Paris Agreement. Currently, the Coalition brings together 260 governments, who represent over 1.75 billion people and 50% of the global economy. In September 2020, the First Minister of Scotland became European Co-Chair of the Under2 Coalition.

States, regions and devolved governments have a crucial role to play in achieving a just global transition to net zero and meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, often being closer to the challenges that climate change is already presenting, and the solutions to combat it.

Through our role as co-chair of the Under2 Coalition, we recognise our responsibility  to increase the Coalition’s impact and positive contribution to achieving this transition. That is why the Scottish Government, in partnership with The Climate Group and Bloomberg Philanthropies, launched Net Zero Futures. The initiative will strengthen state and regional net zero ambition ahead of COP26 by uniting states and regions that have already set net zero targets with peers that have not, in order to share best practice and boost efforts to achieve these targets as soon as possible.

Through our membership of the Under2 Coalition, we also contribute to the Future Fund and ZEV Community, which bring together member governments in line with increasing collective climate action.