Scottish Government at COP26: What was achieved?

This report provides an account of the activities delivered through the Scottish Government’s COP26 programme and how that activity supported the Scottish Government’s main climate related policy aims.

Case study: A Memorandum of Understanding with Denmark

What happened?

On 8 November 2021, in the COP26 Blue Zone, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on heat and energy efficiency was signed between The Government of The Kingdom of Denmark and The Scottish Government (the Parties).

The objectives of the MoU are to promote a mutually beneficial partnership between the Parties in the green transition of the energy system. The areas of cooperation in focus are:

  • heating networks/district energy
  • energy efficiency in buildings and industry

The MOU recognises the common interests shared by the Parties above regarding the development of affordable, and zero carbon emission, sustainable energy sources. It provides an opportunity to deepen collaboration on heat networks and heat decarbonisation more widely. It welcomes opportunity for Scotland and Denmark to collaborate with other like-minded countries and to build a coalition of the willing to press nations to the Paris Agreement to decarbonise heat. This is in line with commitments the Scottish Government has made within their Heat in Buildings Strategy, as well as with their target to achieve net zero by 2045.

The MOU agrees a commitment from both Parties to engage in knowledge exchange as well as to collaborate on the development and promotion of national policies regarding the development of sustainable energy sources, decarbonising heating systems and finding cost-effective and lasting solutions to energy issues. This may include exchanging documents; conducting visits; jointly organising seminars, and jointly commissioning research or analytical studies.

What was the impact?

The signing of the MOU, alongside the rich programme of events promoted by the Scottish Government in the Nordic Pavilion, has opened opportunities for longer-term collaboration with Nordic partners. It has also expanded Scottish Government’s network of government-to-government contacts across the region. This contributes to Scotland’s goals of building and strengthening partnerships and connections at a global level; raising Scotland’s Net Zero trade and investment profile, and enhancing its profile as a global climate leader.

What are the next steps?

Following the MOU, a range of activities, such as workshops and presentations, are in the process of being organised by officials from the Scottish Government and the Danish Government. This includes meetings of senior level officials and stakeholders to promote knowledge sharing; discuss projects and investment opportunities; develop links between stakeholders, and hold symposiums on topics such as waste heat recovery and supply chain development. The first event is due to be held in Scotland in early 2022.

Reflections on COP26 success and next steps

This report has detailed the COP26 programme of activity delivered by the Scottish Government and its partners. As outlined in the report, each of the eight main ‘categories of activity’ delivered a range of different outputs and outcomes over the period of the conference.

This final section will reflect on the success of the COP26 programme as a whole against the Scottish Government’s overarching aims and objectives and consider how the momentum created at COP26 can be built on in the run-up to COP27 and beyond, as work continues across the Scottish Government to deliver on these long-term ambitions.

1) Scotland plays its full part in securing an ambitious and deliverable global deal at COP26

1 Influence global conversations on climate justice and biodiversity loss

2 Provide a bridge between marginalised voices and those making decisions

3 Galvanise greater action from different levels of government and civic society stakeholders

The Scottish Government, and partners, took a leading role in conversations around climate justice; biodiversity loss, and women’s leadership in climate throughout COP26. For example, the Scottish Government announced that they would pledge Loss and Damage finance, committing £2 million from the Scottish Government’s Climate Justice Fund over this Parliament, and being internationally recognised for its ground breaking contribution, including by the UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres and the Climate Action Network. This will continue to be an area of focus ahead of COP27.

The Scottish Government also led the Edinburgh Process for Biodiversity, which sets out commitments for governments, regions and cities across the globe to take positive actions to address biodiversity loss, as well as climate change. The Scottish Government will continue Edinburgh Declaration advocacy work in the run up to at COP15, and use the handover from COP26 to COP15 to emphasise the COP26 legacy work and continue to showcase leadership in this international partnership on biodiversity loss.

The Scottish Government COP26 programme amplified voices that are too rarely heard in climate change discussions - for example, those of young people, women and those from the global south - and sought to be a bridge between these groups and the decision makers around the negotiating table. Key examples of success include: the Conference of Youth; the Glasgow Climate Dialogues, and the launch of the Glasgow Women’s Leadership Statement on gender equality and climate change with UN Women.

At COP27, the Scottish Government will to continue to act in a bridging role to amplify marginalised voices in the global decision making process.

The success of the Scottish Government in galvanising greater action from different levels of government and civil society stakeholders is demonstrated by its role establishing the Under 2 Coalition Net Zero Futures Initiative. In 2021, this initiative engaged more than 80 governments from around the world in dedicated learning activities on setting, and delivering, net zero targets. The Scottish Government also successfully capitalised on Scotland’s role as the European co-chair of the Under 2 Coalition to support the launch of a new Memorandum of Understanding committing members to reach net zero by 2050.

Building from the momentum of COP26, the Scottish Government will continue to demonstrate the role that non-party governments play in tackling the climate emergency.

Throughout the course of COP26, the Scottish Government also signed over 10 international pledges or agreements in areas including gender equality; young people, and emissions reduction which supported a positive global outcome in the Glasgow Climate Pact.

2) COP26 enhances Scotland’s progress to Net Zero through a Just Transition

4 Expanded ambition in domestic climate change agenda

5 Stimulated greater understanding and action from the Scottish public

6 Empowered Scottish children and young people to get involved in COP26 and climate action generally

COP26 gave the Scottish Government an opportunity to expand ambition in relation to its domestic climate change agenda. Key examples of success include: funding the Social Enterprise Fuel Change programme and announcing a new multi-year financial commitment to the Nature Restoration Fund.

The Scottish Government also launched the Energy and Just Transition Plan, beginning a process of collaboration and co-design that will shape the Scottish Government’s refreshed Energy Strategy and the first ever sectoral Just Transition Plan.

The Scottish Government, with partners, delivered a substantial programme of public engagement action, both ahead of COP26, and over the period of the conference itself, to stimulate greater understanding and action from the Scottish public. Children and young people were engaged through a host of activity delivered through schools, museums, local authorities and education settings, while businesses were engaged though Scottish Enterprises’ bespoke business engagement programme. Scottish Enterprise will continue to build on the relationship with the UN Climate Champion team to leverage further Scottish business engagement in the transition to net zero and Race to Zero campaign.

A programme of sustained, multi-channel communications activity in the build up to, during and after COP26, was developed and harnessed by the Scottish Government Communications Division, which increased awareness of climate change and the need for urgent, collective action to tackle it, and showcased Scotland’s climate leadership credentials to audiences overseas.

The established Climate Change Communications Framework and Let’s Do Net Zero brand platform will form a solid foundation to develop and deliver an updated communications strategy and measurable objectives, which supports delivery against the nation’s ambition in the future.

Some of the engagement particularly targeted at children and young people, had the expressed purpose of empowering Scottish children and young people to get involved in COP26 and climate action. For example, members of the Children’s Parliament developed a Climate Changemakers Toolkit, delivered to every Scottish school ahead of COP, to empower children to influence elected representatives and decision-makers about climate action. Children’s Parliament also facilitated the participation of 14 members in numerous sessions, panels and fringe events at the conference itself.

In the Climate Change Public Engagement Strategy published in 2021 the Scottish Government committed to ensuring that the voices of children and young people are heard and help to influence policy design, including in the evolution of the Scottish Government's Let’s Do Net Zero marketing campaign by including children and young people in future marketing research.

Further, as part of the delivery of this strategy, the Scottish Government will partner with trusted messengers to extend the reach of communications to all in Scotland and, in particular, to those who are least engaged. Work with trusted messengers includes that of the 2050 Climate Group, who deliver climate leadership training, connect young people to policy development processes such as consultations, and raise awareness of climate change developments amongst Scotland’s young people. Collaborative working with a range of partner organisations will continue to support climate change education across Scotland.

3) COP26 enhances Scotland’s place in the world, attracts innovation and investment, and builds partnerships that bring benefit

7 Built and strengthened partnerships and connections at a global level

8 Raised Scotland’s Net Zero trade and investment profile

9 Enhanced profile as a global climate leader

The Scottish Government strengthened partnerships and connections at a global level through its activity at COP26. Over the course of the conference, approximately 150 international government engagements; 65 bilaterals; and 484 Ministerial events (across 22 Ministers) were held. Diplomatic efforts were particularly focussed on establishing connections with North America, Europe and the Global South.

A new Memorandum of Understanding was signed the Ministry of Environment of Chile on the conservation and management of wetlands and aquatic ecosystems, which establishes a framework between the Scottish Government and the Chilean Government for collaboration and the exchange of knowledge and ideas.

A Memorandum of Understanding was also signed between Denmark and Scotland to establish a beneficial partnership between the two countries in the green transition of the energy system. A range of activities are currently being organised, including meetings of senior level officials and stakeholders to promote knowledge sharing; discuss projects and investment opportunities; develop links between stakeholders, and hold symposiums on topics such as waste heat recovery and supply chain development. The first event is due to be held in Scotland in early 2022.

Since the COP26 summit ended, several MoUs are being progressed with international partners. One was signed on 9 March 2022 between Scotland and North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany on the economy, energy transition and net zero, and climate and environment protection.

The Scottish Government, in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, worked across the public and private sector in Scotland and beyond, to develop a programme of activity prior to, during and after the conference to raise Scotland’s Net Zero trade and investment profile.

Over the course of the two-week programme, 140 events and engagements with an economic focus were delivered, and 24 events, led by Scottish Enterprise, were held at Scotland’s Climate Ambition Zone. Through a virtual online platform 97 companies were hosted, showcasing their innovative net zero business models, products and/or services. Scottish Enterprise also hosted a wide range of company meetings and roundtables, with existing and potential international investors, to successfully showcase Scotland as an investment destination. In total, 40 meetings took place, and 65 investment leads were generated. Many new connections and relationships were established in Glasgow creating new opportunities for capital investment and green jobs.

Scottish Enterprise remains engaged with all prospective investors to support their ambitions to potentially invest in Scotland. The Scottish Government, in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, will also build on the legacy of COP26 as they continue to demonstrate and promote the opportunities for Scotland in the transition to net zero in the run up to COP27. They will ensure they attract investment and jobs for the transition ahead through private investment, leveraged with public funding and building on our natural capital leadership. An early focus for this was at Scotland’s Net Zero Activation Days in March 2022 at Expo 2020 Dubai. Work will continue at the World Forum for FDI 2022 in Edinburgh in May, which will showcase opportunities to invest in Scotland’s energy transition sector and which will have a focus on net zero, renewables, clean tech, the energy transition and how these contribute to a just transition.

Following on from COP26, Scottish Government has led on the creation of the Sustainable Financial Services Task Force, which was launched in February with Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance Mark Carney. Work will continue with the task force in the run up to COP27, including work to align with the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net-Zero. Scottish Government and its enterprise agencies will collaborate to deliver a strong programme of activity in the run up to and during COP27.

The Scottish Government sought to enhance Scotland’s profile as a global leader by leading by example - and showcasing, creating, joining, signing or endorsing global initiatives to set the “mood music” for COP26. Over the course of the conference, the Scottish Government signed more than 10 international agreements on areas including gender equality, children and young people and emissions reductions and signed five international agreements supporting the global decarbonisation of the transport sector.

The Scottish Government also led from the front with the work of the CivTech Alliance COP26 Global Scale-Up Programme. This ground-breaking global innovation collaboration programme, was designed and delivered by the Scottish Government in collaboration with nine other countries, ahead of COP26. The concept of ‘innovation diplomacy’, is one which Scotland can develop and paves the way for a Scottish approach to increased intergovernmental collaboration on shared challenges which also opens up trade and investment opportunities globally. The success of the programme, including winning ‘Apolitical’s Global Public Service Team of the Year’ has led to an increased membership in the CivTech Alliance and preparations to launch the second iteration in the spring of 22, leading up to COP27.

Since November, international engagements on the themes of climate change, sustainable transport, Just Transition, energy efficiency and biodiversity have continued with new and existing partners. We will continue to work with established and new partners in the run up to and during COP15 and COP27.

It is clear that the Scottish Government’s COP26 Programme contributed to success against the aims and objectives set out ahead of the conference, and this could not have been delivered without our partners across Scotland, including Public Bodies.

COP27 must look to build upon the achievements of COP26 to address the global climate emergency, and this programme will provide a basis for further action as the Scottish Government looks towards COP27 and beyond. To that end, the Scottish Government is focusing its efforts on playing its part to deliver the Glasgow Climate Pact, and to help address the biggest global challenge of its time.



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