THE sad personal realities of coronavirus have hit home with the news of the first death of somebody I knew. Jimmy Gordon died on Tuesday night aged 83 after contracting Covid-19. The founder of Radio Clyde was a trailblazer in Scottish commercial radio and a former political editor of STV.

During his long career in public service he was also involved with the Scottish Development Agency and chaired the Scottish Tourist Board, before becoming a Labour peer in 1997. Former first minister Jack McConnell was absolutely right to highlight that Jimmy had “an outstanding career in business and public service” and had “transformed broadcasting”.

I knew Jimmy when I was at Westminster and we both supported cross-party initiatives such as the John Smith Memorial Trust and conflict resolution in the South Caucasus. Despite our political differences, Jimmy was kind and supportive – he was not personally partisan. I liked him very much and fondly remember his myriad quips and ever-present laughs. My thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues.

Jimmy died in Glasgow Royal Infirmary. He was around the 120th person to die from Covid-19 in Scotland and sadly many more will follow.

The Scottish Government has acted to cope with the onset with the construction of a temporary hospital at the SEC in Glasgow. Named the NHS Louisa Jordan after a nurse who served with the Scottish Women’s Hospital in Serbia during the First World War, it has an initial capacity of 300 which can rise to 1000. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says she hopes that the 3000-bed capacity in Scotland’s traditional hospitals for coronavirus cases will be enough.

With the number of infections and deaths in Scotland lower than in other parts of the UK, especially London, experts believe this was because the lockdown was introduced at an earlier phase of the epidemic curve. If we can successfully maintain social distancing and follow the health advice on handwashing, it can literally save lives and hopefully help us avoid the kind of large regional outbreaks being seen in New York and elsewhere.

READ MORE: Mhairi Black: Stay at home and save lives – it’s that simple

With the pandemic still accelerating, it was to be expected that the UN Climate talks set to take place in Glasgow later this year would be postponed. The most critical climate discussions since the 2015 Paris Agreement were set to take place in November to try to put global efforts back on course to avoid climate breakdown. Now 2020 will be the first year in nearly three decades of annual climate negotiations as part of the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change that no talks are held.

COP26, which would have involved 26,000 attendees, is now set to be postponed until next year. The move is totally justified, especially given that the SEC venue is currently being turned into a temporary hospital.

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However, while humanity is battling the coronavirus, the damage to the environment is continuing and too many countries are not delivering on their targets. Emissions have to peak this year if we want to keep temperature warming to 1.5C.

While time has been won to try to ensure maximum diplomatic pressure to ensure that the delayed Glasgow meeting has the strongest possible outcomes, it will also be held in the context of pandemic recovery and extremely challenging economic circumstances.

With US presidential elections still scheduled to be held in November, it will also be clear whether the US is led by a Donald Trump who opposes the Paris Agreement, or by a new president who takes the climate emergency seriously.

UN climate change executive secretary Patricia Espinosa was right to say: “Covid-19 is the most urgent threat facing humanity today, but we cannot forget that climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity over the long term.

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“Soon, economies will restart. This is a chance for nations to recover better, to include the most vulnerable in those plans, and a chance to shape the 21st century economy in ways that are clean, green, healthy, just, safe and more resilient.”

It is hugely symbolic that the postponed global climate change talks in Glasgow would have taken place in a venue currently being converted into a hospital. Covid-19 and the climate emergency are the two biggest threats currently facing humanity. We have to deal with both.

The coronavirus pandemic has shown that governments of all political persuasions can move mountains to deal with this huge crisis. All of the resources of the state and society are being marshalled into the fight against Covid-19.

When the worst of the pandemic is over, we will need to maintain that level of intensity to deal with the climate crisis.

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