WITH Donald Trump soon to be out of the White House, it looks like international cooperation on climate action is back on the table.

US president-elect Joe Biden recognises the clear and present danger of global warming and climate change and has vowed to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord as one of his first acts in office.

As one environmentalist put it, if Trump had remained in the hot seat, the planet would have been toast. Now that the Toddler-in-Chief has lost the election (whether he likes it or not), climate denial and disrespect for science can be put back in its box, with Biden pledging eye-watering sums towards supporting renewables and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Global solidarity is key to collective success on saving our planet, as is diplomatic influence. To say it’s vital for the US to play its part in this race against time is an understatement. As the second-largest carbon emitter on the planet, it has a moral and global responsibility to act sustainably and bring its significant influence to bear on persuading other nations to follow their lead (are you watching Australia?).

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Just this past month, China, which holds first place in this unedifying list of carbon emitters, has pledged to reach carbon neutrality by between 2050 and 2060 alongside Japan and South Korea, with the UK also aiming for zero carbon by 2050 as well as the EU. Let’s face it, there are not many issues on which all these nations are aligned. Climate change is now the exception to the rule. Their commitments are a welcome development, but it’s only the start and far more radical and pressing action is required.

Greta Thunberg has been quick to criticise these nations for failing to acknowledge the urgency inherent in saving our planet, accusing leaders of greenwashing and empty words. She points out this is a crisis that is happening right now and cannot be fixed by targets on the long arm.

Rather like the Covid pandemic, the global climate crisis needs a rapid response. Not for the first time, a voice of reason on the virus, Edinburgh University’s professor of global public health, Devi Sridhar, tweeted last week to remind us that “it’s better to ‘overreact’ and prevent a crisis than wait and watch one unfold”. Her words echoed those of Dr Mike Ryan, World Health Organisation executive director, who warned back in March that “speed trumps perfection” when it comes to emergency pandemic management. Sadly, for the US, Trump trumped “speed” and “perfection” and failed to get Covid under control.

It’s this kind of urgent and bold action that needs applied to addressing carbon emissions and global warming solutions. The pandemic will eventually come to an end, although who knows when, even with hopes raised this week with the readiness of a possible vaccine. But the climate and rapid global warming is of a whole other magnitude in terms of governmental crisis management and responsibility.

It’s for this reason that I’m supporting Green MP Caroline Lucas’s Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill, which proposes “a ground-breaking path to reboot current climate and environmental legislation” in the UK, to realise real climate leadership and galvanise momentum ahead of Cop26 in Glasgow next November.

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The bill argues that the UK’s Climate Change Act of 2008 has been overtaken by the accelerating climate crisis and must raise its ambition and fast. The CEE Bill seeks to sit alongside this act to rectify its weaknesses, with scientists warning of looming ecological collapse if policy makers fail to take emergency action.

Prepared by an alliance of scientists, academics, lawyers and campaigners, it outlines three main objectives for the UK Government to adopt. The first is to ensure that the UK plays its fair and proper role in limiting global temperature increases to 1.5C through legislation on its full greenhouse gases footprint including consumption as well as production emissions.

The second is to set out clear obligations to restore nature and wildlife, and the third to put citizens at the heart of decision-making with a meaningful Citizens’ Assembly. The latter would involve a representative sample of the public in the processes needed to achieve net-zero faster, with ownership of the radical behavioural and societal shifts required.

Radical is the word. In Scotland, we have set our net-zero target at 2045, alongside Sweden and New Zealand, with Finland at 2035 and Norway 2030. However, Extinction Rebellion has called for the UK to eliminate all carbon emissions by 2025, a tall order which would involve phenomenal change at every level of society.

Pressure is building on Boris Johnson to come good on his climate rhetoric. This CEE Bill puts the onus on the UK Government to up its game in this most serious of global threats. With Cop26 just 12 months away, the UK should build on the momentum of international solidarity set in motion by Biden bringing the US back from the brink of climate denial and push for further and more far-reaching environmental targets.

The president-elect’s presence at the conference could galvanise the race to net zero. Cross-party and devolved support for this ambition is ready and willing, with the Scottish Government’s leadership and commitment recognised worldwide. Only through partnership and collaboration can we make this work. The planet depends on it.