THE UK Government has been urged to change its “unthinkable” and “unacceptable” decision to exclude women from every senior position at the Cop26 climate talks.

The highest roles in the conference, which will be held in Glasgow in November 2021 after the coronavirus forced a 12-month delay, are all held by men.

UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma is now president after Claire O’Neill was removed from the position in January this year.

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Nicola Sturgeon has also been denied a role, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly said he didn’t want the Scottish leader “anywhere near” the global talks.

Now, SNP MSP Gillian Martin has urged the UK Government to reconsider the decision, and commit to the inclusion of diverse voices at next year’s summit.

The representative for Aberdeenshire East said: “In 2020 it is unthinkable to exclude women from every senior position at a major, global summit but that is exactly what the UK Government has proposed to do.

"Women and girls around the world are on the frontline of the fight for climate justice, and the decision to exclude women from leadership positions at the Cop26 summit speaks volumes about the UK Government’s commitment to inclusion and diversity.

“Climate change is the single biggest challenge facing the world, and the decisions made at this summit will deeply affect us all - yet women are not to be represented among the senior officials making those decisions.

“We know that better decisions are made when there is greater diversity at the table. If the UK Government is serious about hosting a UN climate summit capable of inspiring climate justice, the least it could do is put forward a team reflecting equality and inclusivity.”

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She added that Westminster should “lead by example” and ensure “an inclusive process and sufficient consideration of gender aspects”.

“Excluding women from decision-making at top levels is simply unacceptable, and I urge the UK Government to reconsider,” Martin said.

A spokesperson for the First Minister said: “Women and girls around the world are on the frontline of the fight for climate justice, and the UK Government’s implicit failure to acknowledge that speaks volumes about its own attitudes, although it is perhaps not surprising coming from a Government which has made clear its intent to flout diplomatic and legal norms and to break international law.”

A Cop26 spokesperson said that high-profile female ambassadors "have a Cop26 objective", including UK Ambassador to Italy Jill Morris, UK High Commissioner to New Zealand Laura Clarke and UK Ambassador to the USA Karen Pierce.

They added: "The UK is committed to championing diversity and inclusivity throughout our Cop26 Presidency, and our network of leaders, diplomatic representatives and expert voices reflect this in all of their work."