World Climate Summit – The Investment COP – Glasgow 2021

World Climate Summit – The Investment COP – Glasgow 2021

Nicola Ferguson Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland

Right now is the perfect time and also the perfect location to be having these discussions. One of the things that came through very strongly – necessarily so –  at the COP26 Finance Day, was the obligation that all of us – governments and private sector – have in supporting new investments in decarbonization.

Politicians like me, you probably have noticed, are fond of occasional hyperbole, but it is no exaggeration right now to say that the future of our planet literally depends on the investments in technology and decarbonization that can be made now and in the near term. The remainder of this decade is going to be so decisive when commitments must be delivered – and this is an obligation first and foremost on governments and on everyone who has a responsibility here.

One of the announcements during the COP26 Finance Day that I thought was particularly important was that on financial reporting – major financial institutions agreeing to report transparently on how they are supporting the shift to net zero.

It is really important to allow ourselves to be motivated by the massive opportunities that come with investments in green technology. Worldwide, it is estimated that somewhere in the region GBP 100 trillion will be needed between now and 2050, to fund the necessary transition from where we are now to a net zero world.

New products, new technologies, new services will be created. Of course, many of them will provide long-term investment opportunities. Therefore, not only is this the perfect timing to be upping our game in terms of understanding these obligations and also harnessing these opportunities, but Glasgow is the perfect location to be having these discussions. It is an extremely symbolic occasion for the world to be coming together right now to be discussing these challenges and opportunities because this city, and Scotland as a whole, did so much to help lead the world into the industrial age. This city is often described as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.

So we now want to help lead the world into the net-zero age. This city and this country have a rich and richly deserved reputation for innovation and enterprise. To do that, to make sure that Scotland and Glasgow can seize these opportunities to show that leadership, we must lead by example here at home.

That is why at COP26, we are arguing so strongly for fair financing for the developing world. Fair financing that meets the commitments made more than a decade ago but also that takes account of the fact that this is not simply financing to mitigate against climate change or adapt to the impacts of climate change; but financing that helps those most vulnerable countries across the world deal with the loss and damage that they are already experiencing within their own communities.

We are also seeking to lead by example in terms of the targets and the actions that we take here. You are in a country right now, that has in recent years, since 1990, decarbonized more quickly than any G20 country. We have halved our carbon emissions already. We have set targets to push ourselves faster and further. We are legally committed to reducing emissions by 75% by 2030, a date when the world must reduce emissions by a half. As a rich, developed country, it is right that we seek to go further than that. Our aim is to become a net-zero country by 2045. These are ambitious, tough targets, but we all have a responsibility to push ourselves as far and as fast as possible.

We need to ensure that the transition from here to net zero is a just transition. I grew up not far from here in the West of Scotland in the 1970s and 1980s, and I saw first-hand in the communities I lived in the impact of a process of de-industrialization that left people behind. Not enough attention was paid to the justice of that economic transition. That is a mistake that we must not make again.

Justice should be at the heart of this transition and of course that transition requires major changes to every aspect of our lives: how we heat our homes; how we travel around; to our natural environment; to every area of our economy and society. In order to achieve it successfully, fairly, and justly, this will require a sense of collective endeavour across our public and private sectors, and it also inevitably and importantly requires the support and engagement of investors.

So the key message I want to convey to you today is a simple one that is two-fold. First, the importance of this globally cannot be overstated, this is a defining moment in the history of our planet. Secondly, at a time when the need, but also the appetite for, green investment is increasing around the world, Scotland wants to provide a home for a significant share of that investment. To achieve that, we are working in partnership with businesses and investors around the world.

Firstly, we recognize the obligation we have to provide clarity and certainty for investors. One reason why we have set submissions targets that are so clear and so bold, is that they do not simply hold government accountable, they also set for our country a clear direction of travel. We are also making targeted interventions to support green investments through government funding also as a way to lever in private finance. For example, our main economic development organization Scottish Enterprise has over the past decade invested approximately GBP 100 million in companies pursuing green innovation.

Last year, we also established the Scottish National Investment Bank, the first mission-orientated bank of its kind anywhere in the UK. We expect that its investments will encourage additional private finance. One of its principal missions is to aid, support and help drive that transition to net zero. The bank has already made major investments in, for example, a company that produces heat storage batteries; in a sustainable forestry initiative that enhances biodiversity; and in a project that is expanding Scotland’s network of electric vehicle charging points.

These three projects alone give some idea of the range of opportunities that Scotland right now is providing and will do so for many years to come. We have also included many of these opportunities in our green investment portfolio, which includes a range of low carbon and renewable initiatives: in heating; hydrogen; battery storage; carbon capture and green transport.

This is intended to highlight the fact that we are in one of the best places in the world right now to invest in low carbon and net zero projects. That is why we have those legally binding targets – and we aim to be one of the first developed countries in the world to reach net zero. It is important that we harness the investment to make that happen.

But as well as those targets, it is also true to say that Scotland has huge strengths in virtually every area of renewable energy. We are home to the world’s first floating offshore wind farm and the world’s most powerful tidal turbine. We are investing heavily  to develop our capabilities in hydrogen technology and also in carbon capture and storage. We are also the forefront of exploring new opportunities and new approaches to energy efficiency and financing for nature.

I spoke earlier on about the opportunity and the obligation that we all share. At this summit, the obligation is clear. All of us, governments in particular, but the business sector too, must play our part in facing up to this historic challenge of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. The alternative is catastrophe for the planet.

But I hope that as well as that obligation, that sense of opportunity is also palpable. Not every generation gets to live through such a pivotal moment in history. If we do the right things, show the right ambition, show the courage and deliver the investments that are necessary, we have the opportunity to change the world, to save the world for those who will come after us.

You are currently in a city which drove the Industrial Revolution. We have the opportunity now working with partners across the globe to drive and accelerate progress towards our net zero future. So we want to use this opportunity with the eyes of the world on us, to work with our partners here in Scotland, across the rest of the UK and right around the world.

My hope is that some of you here today will join us in some of these partnerships, because as you do, you will certainly help Scotland meet its ambitions to lead that journey to net zero. You will also be helping the world do so, helping to tackle the biggest challenge the world faces, and also realising some very important opportunities for the future.