Right at the start of COP26, the Scottish government missed a golden opportunity to show bold environmental leadership by withdrawing its deal to support Heathrow Airport in its expansion.
A motion brought forward by Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur urged them to do so last week. But the SNP chose to abstain; a weak response that some have observed does not bode well for a Scottish government that likes to brag about having stricter climate laws in place than the rest of the UK.
Heathrow is not just an airport hundreds of miles away, which attracts direct flights from Scotland. It is an airport whose expansion will significantly hamper Scotland’s ability to meet its own climate goals – which require a 75% reduction in emissions by 2030 and a net zero society by 2045 ( and now barely differ from the UK government’s own targets of a 78% reduction in emissions by 2035).
Even the Scottish Government’s own analysis confirms Heathrow expansion would create an additional 600,000 tonnes of carbon emissions in Scotland by 2040, from more than 5,000 additional flights per year – or 605,000 additional round trips between Scottish airports and Heathrow.
So, rather than end its support for this emissions reduction program, the Scottish government has too overtly chosen to continue to support it.
The Scottish government is not only ignoring its own analysis, it is undermining the credibility of its climate goals – and is doing so just as the global environmental movement is taking down Glasgow.
Paul McGuinness, Chairman, No 3rd Runway Coalition, Teddington. Middle-sex
The intention of the Scottish government to be strongly encouraged by the press is to pass a law which will pardon minors convicted by the courts during the 1984 strike (Scotsman, October 29). However, I hope there will be a clause that will compensate police officers injured by minors and whose careers have suffered from their injuries, although I doubt the SNP / Greens coalition will tolerate such an amendment.
These considerations now take center stage, as Police Chief Iain Livingston said there would be a vigorous response to any attempt to stop parts of the COP26 event. Therefore, we can assume that those arrested for obstruction, police assault, violation of public order or even mobbing and riots will be exempt from SNP / Green legislation in the future.
COP26: Thousands of officers enlisted to help Scottish police respect …
In the short term, when the trials begin, English police officers could be brought to Glasgow to testify (at what cost for the public purse?) And if the defendants are foreign nationals, will they appear for the trial? The scenario is then resolved since the accused can be kept in detention until the trial or at least until the end of the COP26 – and what compensation will the Greens then ask for their imprisonment?
(Dr) Alan Naylor, Penicuik, Midlothian
The world is currently on fire with global warming, with rampant fires, droughts, crop failures, melting ice, rising sea levels and flooding. All of this is caused by the capitalist system. It is always looking for more consumption and profit, whatever the cost.
Politicians know this and always make big commitments. In 2009, in Copenhagen, it was agreed that hundreds of billions would be paid by polluting nations to those who have not yet fully industrialized to mitigate the effects of global warming: nothing has yet emerged.
All previous summits have produced hot air and failures that have left the world on the brink of disaster. COP26 promises to be the same. The response to the Covid-19 pandemic shows that there is no will or incentive for governments to cooperate. The only thing national governments see is a chance to have a geostrategic advantage and to turn a profit.
What a brilliantly written front page article of The Scotsman (October 30) – to the point and giving us a clear picture of what to expect if global warming is not reduced.
My son will be 17 in 2030. I am inspired to change for him and his generation. We can all do our part. Let’s not miss our opportunity.
Alison Lindsay, East Calder, West Lothan
The first United Nations Conference on Climate Change (or Conference of the Parties – COP) was held in Berlin in 1995. Since then, 24 other COPs have met in Geneva, Kyoto, Buenos Aires (twice), Bonn (two times). times), The Hague, Marrakech (twice), New Delhi, Milan, Montreal, Nairobi, Bali, Poznan, Copenhagen, Cancun, Durban, Doha, Warsaw, Lima, Paris, Katowice and Madrid.
Despite all the enormous sums of money, political energy and kerosene spent since that first COP in 1995, atmospheric CO2 has continued its inexorable rise without change.
The COP26 takes place in Glasgow. Large amounts of money, political energy and jet fuel will be spent. Will atmospheric CO2 change? Why not ask the 30,000 people who are flying to Egypt next year for COP27?
Alastair McCulloch, Dunblane, Stirling
In “Now and Then” (Scotsman, October 30), you show a photograph of German soldiers sheltering in a shell hole during the First World War. The description tells us that it is a photo of “German soldiers … during the Battle of Ypres which began today in 1914”. However, they wear the “Stahlhelm” or “coal scuttle” helmet which is immediately recognizable as a German soldier’s headgear from the middle of WWI and WWII too.
The Stahlhelm (“Steel Helmet”) was not introduced into the German Army until early 1916. Prior to that, the very distinctive “Pickelhaube” (pointed bonnet) – a leather helmet with a spike on top. (also worn by German police officers) – was the norm.
Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh
Sincere leadership in education can reveal many individual qualities: inspiration, consideration and fairness, wisdom, integrity and determination to self-sacrifice.
This brings me to the deafening silence of many of our public education officials in the face of the current unease in public education. For years, if not decades, many of our public education leaders (far too many) have remained silent, but why? What could possibly compel many of our public education leaders to keep a schtum about the most obvious shortcomings and failures?
Alas, even the street dogs are aware that many of our public education leaders, some principals, city administrators and politicians among them, have emphasized their commitment and faith in public education, by enrolling their own children in independent private schools.
This presumed conscious decision seems to be defended under the guise of “freedom of choice”. But since actions speak much more than words, what about professional integrity and responsibility, regardless of loyalty to one’s employer, the public?
This abandonment of public education by many of its own leaders in favor of a personal advantage for private education for their own, often adopting the English qualification system, is positively subversive.
The turmoil over COP26 and the Prime Minister’s increasingly desperate attempts to somehow present himself in connection with the event may be hiding a darker fact.
The latest opinion polls show a steady majority, month by month, for keeping the UK intact. After all, she said she would like a succession of polls showing a 60-40 majority to separate Scotland and break up the UK before pushing for another of the SNP’s “once in a lifetime” plebiscites. It would seem that despite all the electoral giveaways thrown at the people of this country, the pro-British majority stubbornly refuses to budge and in fact, the opponents of the nationalist plans are on the rise.
I think it’s safe to say it’s over. The dream has evaporated, destroyed by logic and good economic sense. It’s time for the Pillars to go home and maybe think again.
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh
I agree with Rev. John Cameron (Letters, October 29) that the triple lockdown on public pensions should have been maintained, at least for 2022/23 pending new legislation.
It would seem logical, after a few years of transition, to bring the ‘new’ basic state pension (currently £ 9,339) into line with the tax-free personal allowance (£ 12,570) and the minimum wage for young people of 18 years old (£ 12,792 for a 40-hour week).
But as in other countries, retirees should then be subject to National Insurance, whose rules and thresholds should of course be integrated or at least aligned with income tax. Why on earth would retired millionaires escape it?
In addition, we must recognize that many retirees today may find themselves with a net disposable income not much different from their last years of employment, as they no longer pay the NIC, pension contributions or travel expenses.
With longer lifespans, these pensions could last 25 years after 45 years of employment. Can the UK afford such obligations on younger generations of taxpayers in an increasingly competitive world?
John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife
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