THE head of the United Nations has praised Scotland and the Government's ambitious targets to tackle climate change ahead of 2050.

António Guterres, the UN secretary-general was speaking as leaders and delegates from around the world have gathered in Glasgow for crucial talks to negotiate global action to combat climate change.

The COP26 climate conference is organised by the UN and the summit taking place in Glasgow until November 12 is hoping to get some concrete commitments from all nations in attendance to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

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Guterres has served as the UN secretary-general since 2017 and formerly served as prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002.

Speaking with the BBC, he praised the people of Glasgow for their hospitality and helping COP26 to go-ahead over the next two weeks while praising the Scottish Government's net zero targets.

Guterres said: "I'd like to express my enormous gratitude to Glasgow and to the people of Glasgow and the Scottish people for their wonderful hospitality and for the excellent preparation of this COP. 

"On the other hand, I know that Scotland has a very clear target of reaching net zero clearly before 2050. Scotland is one of the first international actors that has determined money for loss and damage - that is a very important point for developing countries.

"I would like to start by saying how much I appreciate the Scottish effort in this regard."

Scotland has an ambitious target of achieving net zero emissions of harmful gases by 2045, five years ahead of the global target outlined in the Paris climate accord that was agreed at COP21 in the French capital in 2015.

By 2030, Scotland hopes to reduce emissions of all major greenhouse gases by at least 75%, then to increase this to a 90% reduction by 2040 with an overall ambition of achieving net zero by 2045.

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The UN has previously praised Scotland's “inspiring level of ambition” in achieving net zero which have been enshrined in law by the Scottish Government with the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019.

Recently, the Scottish Government announced £1 million to help developing countries deal with loss and damage caused b climate change, such as floods and wildfires.

The money will come from the Government's Climate Justice Fund which is providing £6m per year to help communities combat climate change.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are grateful for the UN Secretary General’s recognition of Scotland as a world leader on action to tackle climate change and our provision of £1 million in funding to support nations and communities address loss and damage.

“Climate justice has to be at the heart of COP26 - and we are working to ensure that it provides a platform for unheard voices, including citizens, young people and those from the Global South. Through our work on climate justice, Scotland continues to proudly support nations which – despite having done the least to cause climate change – are already suffering its impact.”

The actions the Scottish Government is taking to achieve these ambitions include creating a Just Transition to net zero, including in transitioning Scotland's North Sea oil and gas sector to a focus on renewable energy.

Scotland's Climate Justice Fund was initially launched in 2012 to help tackle the effects of climate change in the poorest, most vulnerable countries, with a £3 million budget with another £3m added in 2014.

From 2012 to 2016 the fund has contributed to projects in Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania and Rwanda.

In 2015, at COP21, the Government committed to adding a further £3m a year to the budget from 2016 to 2021.

In September 2021, it was announced that the fund would double, meaning that in 2022 there will be £6m committed per year to provide help to the poorest and most vulnerable nations to help them combat climate change.

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.