NICOLA Sturgeon’s involvement in COP26 is up to Boris Johnson, Alok Sharma told a Holyrood committee.

The president of COP26 was grilled on details relating to how devolved administrations will be involved in the crucial climate change summit due to be held in Glasgow in November.

The Tory MP made the comments whilst giving evidence remotely to the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee at Holyrood on Thursday. 

Sharma set out some details on what this would mean, but said he was intent on “showcasing the whole of the UK”.

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But he also revealed that the Prime Minister is taking the lead on whether or not Nicola Sturgeon, or other first ministers in devolved administrations, will have a part to play.

It comes just weeks after we told how leaked messages showed advisers from No 10 and the Cabinet Office want to sideline the SNP leader to stop her using COP26 as “an advert for an independence campaign”.

Jackie Dunbar, SNP MSP for Aberdeen Donside, asked Sharma what role the First Minister can play in COP26.

He said: “Prime Minister Johnson has said he wants all the First Ministers to play an important part, and there is working going on at official level working on this.

"As I’ve said very clearly we want this to be a whole of UK approach and I’m sure that shortly you will hear more from the UK Government on this issue but I said this is something that the Prime Minister leads on.”

The National:

Alok Sharma gave evidence to the committee remotely on Thursday

Fiona Hyslop, SNP MSP for Linlithgow, asked Sharma how to secure “whole of UK input into COP26”, and what Scotland can offer in relation to demonstrations, such as work towards a just transition.

Sharma said: “In terms of showcasing the UK, you will know that the venue is going to be divided into the green zone which is effectively open to the public, and we had significant levels of expressions of interest from businesses, NGOs, academics etc to display in the green zone.

“And we did liaise with all the devolved admninstatrions in terms of the submissions of interest that came in and we are going to be showcasing from a Scottish perspective, I think quite a number of Scottish led initiatives in the green zone.

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“In terms of the blue zone, what we have said is that we are going to have quite a lot of focus on the regions, cities, the build environment day at COP, there is a themed day every day and on that day there will be a focus on the devolved administrations.”

Sharma added that he was in conversations with ministers regarding the input of devolved administrations at the conference, and that he is in the process of setting out more detail on what will be discussed on each day.

He added that there were also “discussions” ongoing regarding how devolved administrations will be showcased in the UK pavilion, an exhibition space organised by the UK Government.

Sharma also set out the four key objectives the UK Government has going into COP26.

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First, on mitigation, Sharma will push for other nations, particularly in the G20, to come forward with “ambitious targets” for 2030.

Second, to work on adapting to climate change that is already happening. He said: “As we saw from the IPCC report, even if global warming stopped tomorrow, climate change stopped tomorrow, the effects of what has happened already will continue to reverberate for a long period of time so countries need to plan for that.”

The third is asking developed countries to deliver on previously promised $100 billion per year in funding to help developing countries tackle climate change.

The mobilisation fund was supposed to happen every year from 2020 to 2025, but Sharma admitted “we are not there yet” and said the UK will continue to press donor countries and set out a delivery plan.

Lastly, closing off remaining “outstanding items” on the Paris rule book from the previous COP summit, which need to be resolved.

The National:

Cross-party committee members grilled Sharma on COP26

He told committee members: “I very much want to see this as an all of UK COP, as something we can all collectively be very proud of and of course we’ll be welcoming the world to Glasgow and I think this is an opportunity to showcase what the United Kingdom also has to offer.”

Asked by Labour MSP Monica Lennon if he had any “fears” for the conference and what kept him up at night, Sharma said: “I don’t think it's an exaggeration to say that COP26 is our last best chance of getting this right.

"This is a decisive decade, all colleagues asking questions on this committee have made reference to the IPCC report and this is why we need to get it right at COP.”