I WATCHED the coverage of COP26 with a growing sense of horror. It provoked a series of sudden realisations about my own behaviour. Up until this point, I’ve not taken the climate emergency seriously enough. Beyond the basics, I’ve not felt that tug of moral duty to do my bit.

And I’ve definitely not been angry enough about the wanton destruction of our planet and the big corporations that have got rich off it.

In emotional scenes on Saturday night, a deal was finally struck. A last-minute intervention, led by India, saw the agreement diluted to make fossil fuel pledges more palatable. The Glasgow Climate Pact now promises to “phase down” rather than “phase out” coal.

While leaders have been quick to pat themselves on the back for reaching an agreement, these pledges don’t go far enough to limit temperature rises to 1.5C. It seems we’re not quite in the emergency mode we need to be in if we have a hope of leaving a habitable planet behind for future generations.

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As delegates and dignitaries prepare to pack up and leave Glasgow, I wonder what impression Scotland left on them. The weather might have been cold, but hopefully the welcome was warm.

Scotland’s role in the COP26 negotiations was the subject of fierce arguments in the months before the conference and now that it’s over it seems those rows will continue.

If, like me, you had one eye on the conference hall and another on Twitter over the last few weeks you might have experienced the same sense of discombobulation I did.

In the room, leaders and experts discussed the fate of our planet and humanity itself. On Twitter, Scottish politicians were up in arms about how many photographs of Nicola Sturgeon there were.

I was hesitant to even write about this, in all honesty. It’s such trivial, petty nonsense in the grand scheme of things. But as the days have gone on and the discourse around the First Minister’s use of social media has reached fever pitch I’ve found myself becoming increasingly annoyed.

How many articles do we need to read about the exact number of photographs Nicola Sturgeon has appeared in during recent weeks? It’s like the worst game of Where’s Wally you’ve ever played.

How many more times are opposition politicians going to offer (apparently serious) commentary about the First Minister’s alleged dangerous obsession with having her photograph taken?

And for how long are we going to indulge this dedicated group of mainly men and pretend that their analysis isn’t rooted in the fact that the First Minister is a woman?

When Boris Johnson or Prince Charles or Mark Drakeford have their photo taken we don’t scramble to assign some deeper meaning or character flaw.

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But for some reason, when Nicola Sturgeon does it, it’s because she’s obsessive, fame-hungry, vacuous, trivial and desperate for attention.

In his blog, Tory MSP Stephen Kerr said Nicola Sturgeon was more comfortable “posing” for Vogue than in her constituency. He said she “threw herself” at every camera going and “chased” world leaders for photographs.

She’s being referred to as “Elsie McSelfie” by the same people who think Jimmy Krankie memes are cutting-edge comedy.

There’s a glaring irony here. Those who are fixated on Sturgeon selfies are pushing a narrative that she, in her fuzzy-brained, womanly way, is so distracted by her own personal image that she isn’t paying enough attention to her responsibilities as First Minster.

Isn’t that exactly what they are doing? In dedicating so much time and energy to this selfie stooshie, they’re failing in their responsibilities as an opposition to highlight government failures.

Please don’t mistake my irritation with the selfie stuff as a intervention to protect Nicola Sturgeon’s delicate sensibilities. She’s an experienced politician and the leader of a country. I’m sure the daftness over how many photos she’s had taken doesn’t faze her in the slightest.

But while so much energy is being spent on infantilising Nicola Sturgeon as a giddy fan-girl, what are they not talking about?

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Ambulance waiting times, preparing the NHS for winter, fuel poverty, the Covid crisis; any one of these issues deserves far greater interrogation of the Scottish Government than selfies, for goodness’ sake. It’s an odd strategy for any opposition party to adopt.

Rather than holding Nicola Sturgeon, as First Minister, responsible for government failings, they pander to a sexist notion that she’s just too distracted by shiny things and shiny people to fulfil her duties.

I sincerely hope that in the days ahead, all the senior male politicians who have been engaging in this come to realise how utterly counterproductive it is. Our planet is literally dying and I feel like everybody has lost their damn minds.

Scottish parochialism isn’t a photo with a congresswoman and a can of Irn-Bru: it’s this destructive desire to reduce our politics to the lowest common denominator.