HEADS of governments are gathered in Katowice, Poland, this week for the annual United Nations climate conference. They meet just weeks after the stark warning from scientists that we have a mere 12 years to implement rapid and far-reaching transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings and transport, if we are to avoid further climate breakdown.

The pledges of emissions cuts put forward by countries so far will see us reach a catastrophic 3ºC of warming by the end of the century. Meanwhile the havoc and devastation caused by only 1ºC of warming, across rich and poor countries alike has been all too evident this summer.

A new report launched at the conference shows the huge gulf between those who have caused climate change and those who are feeling the impacts. The richest 10% of the global population receives more than 50% of the global income, and are responsible for over half of global climate emissions.

While the poorest half of the world receives less than one-tenth of the global total income – many surviving on less than US$2 per day – and generate almost no emissions. These groups clearly cannot be asked to shoulder equally the burden of climate action. Developed countries must take the lead.

This inequity is something that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon spoke about when she attended the talks on Tuesday. She had been invited by the UN climate secretary to take part in a session on “long term strategies for a climate neutral world”. Timely, as the Scottish Parliament is debating our own long-term strategy for tackling climate change in our new Climate Change Bill.

She was asked to speak because Scotland has been recognised until now as a country with a good story to tell on climate action, with our success in renewables and having almost halved our climate emissions since the Climate Act of 2009.

The First Minister talked about the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientists’ report as a “call to action”, about the need to “accelerate the pace and scale of our actions” and set more ambitious goals. But sadly, we don’t see any of these fine words reflected in her Government’s new Climate Change Bill.

The proposed targets so far fail to deliver the urgency, ambition and action that the Paris Agreement and the IPCC report show is necessary to limit catastrophic warming.

Rather than accelerating the pace of action in the vital next decade, the Government are coasting on the same path to 2030 that was first agreed nearly 10 years ago. And instead of “taking the lead” as Nicola Sturgeon said, their targets aim only for the middle of the time range for action set out by the IPCC – not good enough for a wealthy, industrialised country with good progress to date.

Furthermore, the Scottish Government continues to support new oil and gas exploration and extraction at a time when we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground.

On the same day the First Minister was speaking about climate leadership at the UN, the SNP at Westminster voted with the Conservatives, through tax relief, to help oil and gas companies squeeze out every last drop from the North Sea.

Drilling for every last drop in the North Sea is completely incompatible with leadership on tackling climate change. The industry-designed policy of Maximising Economic Recovery from the North Sea is about lining the pockets of big corporations while maximising damage to the climate.

With a good track record, Scotland is in a prime place to demonstrate the leadership the First Minister spoke of. To do that, however, the Climate Bill must be strengthened and we must see an immediate end to new oil and gas exploration.

As the First Minister said “people are running ahead of governments”, and that’s a good thing. But the governments need to catch up quick. Our very survival – whether in the rich north or the global south – depends on it.