AS I write this, I’m about to head for the UN climate conference in Marrakech, where countries are supposed to be agreeing on the actions that will deliver on the ambition of the Paris Agreement, signed last December. A key focus for us at this conference is to get urgent action in the period before the Paris targets come into force in 2020. Despite all the back-slapping and tears of joy at last year’s conference, early emissions reduction is something that the Paris meeting completely failed to stimulate. (It would be churlish to mention that it was a UK Government minister who was given a key role in trying to make this happen).

A new report makes clear that no UN member state is on track to deliver the promise of limiting temperature rises to 1.5ºC and, overall, countries’ promised action adds up to a world which is a catastrophic 3ºC or more warmer. Statistics will show that 2016 has been the warmest year ever recorded globally, and even at the current 1ºC of warming people are dying, livelihoods are being ruined and people are being force to become migrants.

Some countries, such as Japan, have already met their own targets for 2020 but refuse to do anything more for now. Scotland has also met its 2020 target, but here we are promised a new Climate Bill next year with more ambitious targets aimed at responding to the urgency of the Paris Agreement 1.5ºC pledge.

No doubt we will have a lively debate about what Scotland’s fair contribution to global emissions reductions is, but the stated intent it clearly very promising. The Scottish Government is also putting the finishing touches to a new Climate Change Plan to spell out the actions that will deliver even more emissions reductions by 2020 and beyond. This is the kind of good example the international process needs.

We are already on a journey to making Scotland fossil-fuel-free, with the closure of our last coal-fired power station in March and recent decision to ban Underground Coal Gasification (UCG). While fracking companies in England are gearing up to fight protesters at drilling sites, in Scotland the SNP’s moratorium research is bound to damn this new source of unconventional fossil fuels, and Labour are proposing a new bill to ban it forever. The government will give everyone the chance to have their say in a massive public consultation this winter. The industry will no doubt be spending plenty of cash to try to persuade people that fracking is good for them.

The victory over Underground Coal Gasification was a great example of working with key local campaign groups, making clear the global impacts of the industry, behind-the-scenes engagement with politicians and civil servants, a stream of strong media stories and persistent pressure from activists.

We need to bring that same kind of pressure to bear over the next six months to make sure fracking is banned once and for all, and to make sure Scotland’s climate ambitions really are a world-class example.

Dr Richard Dixon, Director, Friends of the Earth Scotland, and board member, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland

THE Bruce Convoy took place on Sunday, a historic led tour travelling to several locations of major significance in the life of King Robert the Bruce organised by the Dead Scotland Society, the historic branch of the Scottish resistance independence grassroots movement.

At Dunfermline Abbey, we were shocked to discover that the part of the abbey where Bruce and his wife Elizabeth are laid to rest is closed to visitors until spring. 

I wonder who made this decision and if it would be accepted if Westminster Abbey was to be closed for the same period?

My guess is, no it wouldn’t.

Gwen Sinclair, Airdrie

SNP must find a way to reassure pro-indy Leavers 

I VOTED to remain in the EU in the June referendum as I thought – and still think – that on balance this was in Scotland’s best economic interests. However, I find myself unable to endorse the view expressed by SNP NEC member Tony Guigliano ('Neil’s position on Brexit is undermining the case for independence', The National, November 5).

It seems to me that this grossly overstates the case for remaining in the EU from an SNP perspective. As a veteran SNP member, I am old enough to recall the principled position the party adopted in the 1975 Common Market referendum when we campaigned on the slogan “No Voice, No Choice”.

It was chosen to highlight the total lack of separate Scottish representation on the Council of Ministers and its woeful inadequacy in the European Parliament and in other Common Market institutions, compared to that enjoyed by other small countries with a similar population, such as Denmark and the Irish Republic, not to mention Luxembourg with a population lower than Edinburgh’s.

Supporting “independence in Europe” should not mean that we give up the right to campaign for adequate and independent Scottish representation on all relevant European institutions, nor should it mean  that we are blind to the undoubted defects in the EU’s current constitution and policies, some of which were correctly identified by former SNP cabinet secretary Alex Neil in justification of his Leave vote.    

Even the First Minister conceded during her campaign to keep not just Scotland but the UK as a whole in the EU that the institution is by no means perfect in its modus operandi.

I think, moreover, that Mr Neil is undoubtedly correct in his warning that in the current context “tying Scottish independence to EU membership risked alienating supporters”. This is especially so in view of the fact that some post-referendum polling evidence would seem to suggest that around one third of Yes voters in the first indyref voted to leave the EU, while the majority of Scottish Remain voters were not in any case independence supporters – for example Ruth Davidson, Kezia Dugdale and Willie Rennie.

Before rushing into a possibly premature second independence referendum, the SNP administration needs to find some way of reassuring these supporters that their continuing support for independence does not also commit them to continuing and permanent support for EU membership in a post-independence context.

Ian O Bayne, Glasgow

ALEX Neil had every right to vote Leave if he so desired. Irking me though, are his reasons, ie he didn’t like the way Osborne and Cameron were “scaremongering”. Does that then imply that he was comfortable with the right-wing antics and blurtings of Farage, Johnson etc?

Did Mr Neil believe, for instance, that an extra £350 million per week would be flowing into the NHS as claimed? Nevertheless, it would be helpful if accurate figures could be identified as to the true number of Yes voters who do not want Scotland to be in the EU. If it is at all significant, then perhaps indyref2 should proceed with a promise of a further vote to determine an indy Scotland’s future either in or out of the EU. Brexit must not be allowed to damage independence momentum.

G Foulis, Edinburgh

IN a soundbite on her way to India, PM Theresa May said “the majority of the British people voted for Brexit”. This is not true. What about the millions of 16 and 17-year-olds who were denied a say in their future? What if we factor in the millions who are not registered to vote because of the distortions in the electoral registration system?

I would suggest the real figure is less than 30 per cent.

Willie Oswald, Blanefield

I DO not expect to have been the first or last to send a frustrated scream down the wires after reading The National’s letters page yesterday. The island on which Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham is buried, along with many members of his family, is Inchmahome (not Inchholme) in the beautiful Lake of Menteith.

Margaret Sutherland, Stirling