SCOTLAND’S First Minister arrived in Paris yesterday as the talks reconvened for their second and final week. In the midst of these frantic and complex negotiations it is easy to lose sight of the real reason we are all here.

One of the side events on Monday – co-hosted by Catholic development networks CIDSE and Caritas Internationalis and Friends of the Earth – explored the reality of climate change for people living in poverty in the global south. It was a welcome reality check and a reminder of the very human cost of rising temperatures.

Speaking at the event was the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who highlighted the Scottish Government’s commitment to climate justice and “determination to play their part”. As a demonstration of this, she announced a further £12 million for Scotland’s Climate Justice Fund – a fund created in 2012 to help communities in Africa adapt to the consequences of climate change.

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland welcomed this increase in funding and the Government’s continued recognition of climate justice.

The concept of climate justice is an important one and must be central to an agreement here in Paris. It recognises that those affected most by climate change are the world’s poorest and most vulnerable – perversely those who have done least to cause the problem.

Taking a climate justice approach recognises that climate change has an impact on people’s human rights – such as the right to food, water, development and health – and puts safeguarding human rights at the centre of our response to climate change.

Pope Francis has called climate change one of the biggest challenges facing humanity today and has also pointed out the links between our environmental crisis and social injustice. He believes an “ecological debt” exists between richer countries in the global north and those in the global south.

Also listening to the First Minster speak was SCIAF partner Carsterns Mulume from Caritas Malawi. He spoke to me about the impact of extreme and unpredictable weather in his country, where climate change is pushing already vulnerable communities further into poverty. He also told me about the positive difference Scotland’s Climate Justice Fund has had in Malawi.

The Government’s announcement comes at a significant moment then – the Scottish Climate Justice Fund is an important recognition of our ecological debt, acknowledging that countries like Scotland have a moral responsibility to help poorer communities respond to the impacts of climate change.

To be clear, even with the increase, Scotland’s Fund is a modest amount of money, particularly given the scale of the challenge. Estimates of the amount of money needed to help communities adapt to climate change are eye-watering, with some believing developing countries will need between £90bn and £200bn per year by 2050.

Transparent and predictable provision of finance from richer countries to poorer nations, therefore, is a crunch issue here in Paris. But while it’s crucial that richer countries support poorer nations, climate justice also means rich countries taking action at home.

Scotland can set an example to other governments at the Paris talks. Our Climate Change Act, is world-leading and commits Scotland to cutting its emissions by 42 per cent by 2020. To date, the annual emissions reduction targets have proved challenging and Stop Climate Chaos Scotland has repeatedly pushed the Scottish Government to go much further in order to meet them.

Despite these challenges, Scotland continues to promote a positive approach to climate action. As the First Minister moved from the talks to an event at the Stade de France, she told business people that the Paris climate conference is a moment of opportunity and optimism; highlighting the benefits of Scotland’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

The First Minister’s interventions have demonstrated here how sub-national states and regions are leading the way; pushing through changes far more ambitious than many national governments can agree.

This kind of action is inspiring and in these final days groups will continue to ask governments at all levels to hear the voices of those most vulnerable to climate change. Justice requires nothing less.

Jo O’Neill is SCIAF policy officer, a Stop Climate Chaos Scotland member, and is at COP21 in Paris as part of the CIDSE official delegation.