AFTER the pomp and ceremony of 150 heads of state addressing the world about climate change on Monday, yesterday it was down to the real business here at the UN climate talks in Paris.

Negotiators began ploughing through the draft agreement text section by section, with the aim of handing over a much shorter, cleaned up version of the text to Ministers in time for next week’s high-level section.

Hopefully the leaders’ opening speeches were still ringing in their ears; speeches which effectively gave negotiators the mandate to ensure the countries of the world leave Paris with a clear plan that will close the emissions gap, protect the vulnerable and ensure that the scale of resources needed to address climate change is delivered.

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Indeed, heads of state gave a very clear call that addressing the needs of those particularly vulnerable to climate impacts must be at the centre of any agreement. We also heard from nearly every developing country that addressing issues of equity and fairness will be key to unlocking more progress.

In fact, it feels very much to me as if it’s the developing countries that have been showing the way at the start of these talks.

Monday saw a potentially game-changing announcement from India concerning plans for a new alliance to provide solar energy access to people living in poverty. The collaboration, which will include nearly100 countries and reach billions of people, shows that poverty and climate change can – and must – be tackled simultaneously.

Yesterday, African leaders and governments unveiled a truly transformational plan to drive energy access across the continent by 2020. And then, over a period of 10 years, to install double the total amount of clean renewable electricity capacity than exists on the continent today.

Renewable energy and support for developing nations are two areas where Scotland has historically played a progressive role during previous climate talks. It’s therefore great news to hear that Scotland’s First Minister has announced she will be attending the talks next week.

Scotland has a particularly good story to tell with its world-leading targets on reducing climate pollution, as well as its Climate Justice Fund – which is helping thousands of people living in some of the world’s poorest countries deal with the damaging impacts of climate change. It’s good that Nicola Sturgeon will be here in Paris to share that story.

However, while she is here the First Minister will no doubt be asked by delegates what progress Scotland is making towards those targets. With more and more countries across the world taking positive steps on climate change we need to be able to demonstrate that ambition is being turned in to action. Scotland can not rest on its laurels and just talk about its targets, we also have to say what steps we are taking to hit them. And following the hundreds of mobilisations recently held across the world, including more than 5,000 people marching in Scotland, it is clear that there is huge public support for our leaders to go further internationally and at home.

For the Scottish Government, one area it could continue to lead would be to use its forthcoming budget to build on its previous commitment to make energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority. Not only could committing to a programme to fix the problem of the nation’s cold, damp and draughty homes reduce our emissions, it would also take tens of thousands of people out of fuel poverty, create thousands of jobs, and save millions of pounds for our over-stretched NHS.

And, just like those initiatives announced by India and African nations here in Paris, it would show that moving toward a low-carbon future can bring multiple benefits for people as well as our economy.

It’s clear that the world is ready to move forward. If Scotland wants to maintain its status as a global leader on climate change it will need to ensure it keeps moving too.

Lang is the director of WWF Scotland and is part of the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland delegation to the UNFCCC. Follow all the latest from Paris on Twitter: @LangBanks and @sccscot


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