EVEN with an extra year to prepare for COP26 in Glasgow, the auguries do not look good. Boris Johnson’s bumbling description of what constitutes global warming (“like a tea cosy”) in Number 10 on Monday hardly fills with confidence that he has the stature to rally and hold the world behind hard carbon reduction targets.

Admittedly, he was talking to school kids – but they probably know substantially more about the hard science than the old self-confessed climate change denier himself has ever learned.

On the same day, Susan Aitken was savaged at the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee about rubbish in the streets and rats in the alleyways of summit city. Douglas Ross is a boor but the leader of a tough-school cooncil like Glasgow should be able to deal with prats in the Commons as well as rats in the city.

Meanwhile, the refuse workers and the train drivers are still on course for strike action while Glasgow commuters are already chaffing under the ”insane” traffic configurations.

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Reassurance on the city’s state of readiness to stage COP26 would not have come from the Health Secretary, forced to admit at the weekend that the influx of tens of thousands to Glasgow will result in a rise in Covid infections. Perhaps there would have been more confidence if the sluggish roll-out of the booster vaccine had been accelerated. Indeed, if Glasgow was to truly welcome the world, should she not have done so as a fully vaccinated city?

Johnson’s dismissive contempt for Scotland has never been more dramatically evident than last week in the relegation of Scotland’s carbon capture bid. It takes that very special sort of insouciance bred into old Etonians to insult the host country on something so important on the eve of a world-saving summit. He must rate the current political threat from Scotland at a very low level indeed!

It was not always thus. Back in 2005, Tony Blair picked Gleneagles for a G8 summit specifically with politics in mind. The location was designed to demonstrate the benefits to Scotland that only the Union could bring. Admittedly the political impact was rather ruined when Westminster stuck Jack McConnell’s hapless Labour/Liberal Scottish Executive with a £50 million tab for policing and security costs!

Much has been written in the last few weeks about the Scottish carbon capture project being kiboshed by Boris Johnson on the very eve of COP26. Few realise the full connection with that summit of July 2005.

The first day at Gleneagles was meant to present transformative commitment by the world’s rich to the planet’s poor. That did not work out as well as hoped. However, the second day of the summit focused on climate change, and ever the showman, the prime minister had prepared a surprise announcement with his pal John Browne, then chief executive of BP. The news was a firm BP commitment to develop a revolutionary carbon capture proposal at Peterhead and the development there of the world’s first full-scale, hydrogen-powered, electricity-generating station.

As things turned out the news was understandably overshadowed by the London bombings that same weekend and, although the announcement was made, the hydrogen proposal was deprived of the oxygen of publicity.

Two years later, the Peterhead Miller project itself was buried as a cost saving measure by the incoming prime ministerial/chancellor combo of Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown. If it had gone ahead 14 years ago then Scotland would now be the world leader not just in carbon capture, but with a secure platform in the hydrogen economy. The delegates to Glasgow could have gone on bus tours to wonder at it.

Now similar projects are off the starting blocks with BP once again in the vanguard, not in Scotland but in England. They have been given the green light to lead the consortia in the Humber and Teeside for decarbonising these industrial clusters. BP intends to revisit the proposal from 2005 of a pre-combustion process of splitting methane into clean-burn hydrogen and carbon dioxide to be stored offshore in saline aquifers.

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Famously, Scotland has sent £350,000m of oil revenues south over the last half century and gets kicked in the teeth in response. It is much more difficult to estimate BP’s upstream profits taken from Scottish resources over the same period, but it is unlikely that there would be much change from a £100,000m. Yet when it comes to these crucial investments in the future, Scotland gets zero return instead of zero carbon.

Some people argue that time is on our side in getting to independence. It is not. Shorn of political influence, our country is being taken to the cleaners and our resources ransacked. Missing out again on the carbon capture initiatives doesn’t just mean missing out on 20,000 jobs but will jeopardise much of the remaining industrial structure of Scotland.

We are still a convenient place to hold summits just as long as the natives are not allowed into the big meetings. While the big decisions are taken in Glasgow to determine the future, Scotland will have our collective nose pressed against the windaes. We will be outside with the rats.