THE COP26 conference finally came to an end with widespread dissatisfaction among activists and campaigners at a deal which fails to ensure the rise in global temperature will be kept below the crucial 1.5C mark by the end of this century.

Progress has certainly been made, but the Glasgow Climate Pact is likely to go down in history as the time that world leaders failed to step up to the mark and, as they have always done, put the interests of the big fossil fuel companies ahead those of the planet and the common good of humanity.

The ink was hardly dry on the Glasgow deal when the US government of Joe Biden was reported as being about to auction off more than 80 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling companies. The US government holds the auction for drilling licences is held every November and is due to do so again later this month despite more than 250 environmental, social justice and indigenous groups signing a joint letter to President Biden last week urging that this year’s auction be cancelled.

In domestic political terms, any failures of COP26 lie fairly and squarely at the door of the British Government, which was the official host of the event and which went to considerable lengths to deprive the Scottish Government of any official role during the proceedings.

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Tackling climate change and creating climate justice is above all about ensuring ordinary people are given a voice and have agency when it comes to determining the future of their own communities and the planet at large.

However, the determination of the Johnson regime to ensure Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government were cut out of the event led to the ludicrous and ironic circumstance, which did not go unnoticed by those attending the conference, that the country where the conference was being held had no voice of its own and no independent agency.

Despite the exclusion of Scotland from any official role in this vital international event, it still provided an opportunity for politicians and leaders from around the globe to meet with the Scottish First Minister and to see for themselves that Scotland is ready and willing to engage with the other nations of the world as an equal, honest, and co-operative partner both in the fight against climate change and more generally.

The contrast with the British Government and its leader could not be more obvious and did not need to be explicitly spelled out. Scotland has impressed the world as a country which is committed to democracy, social justice and combating climate change. It’s a stark contrast with a UK whose fundamental driving principle is an unshakable belief in British exceptionalism and which has no problem reneging on promises and commitments the moment that they no longer suit.

Indeed, this is a British state where a former senior adviser to the Prime Minister recently claimed that “cheating foreigners” was one of the most important roles for the head of the British Government.

The issue of MPs’ second jobs and the willingness of Conservative MPs to lobby on behalf of companies which pay them handsomely broke during the COP conference when the eyes of the world were on the UK. The whole world saw the shameful and outrageous attempt of the Johnson government to do away with independent oversight and investigation of allegations of corruption made against MPs.

It was the action of a corrupt government with plenty to hide. You do not go to such lengths to neuter investigation of your money-generating activities if you are confident that there is nothing to worry about.

The episode led to a humiliating press conference during which Johnson was forced to deny that the UK is a corrupt state. It’s not a question which gets raised if there are no questions about the moral and financial probity of the British Government.

In years gone by, the British state and its government and institutions were held in high regard around the world for its adherence to the highest of standards. Certainly in Spain, where I lived for many years working as a translator and interpreter, Spanish people once contrasted what they thought were the high standards of honesty and “fair play” which in their eyes characterised politics in the UK with the rampant corruption which is a feature of politics in Spain. They don’t do that any more.

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Now they understand the real difference between the UK and Spain when it comes to political corruption is that corruption in Spain is more likely to lead to a criminal trial and imprisonment.

The UK might have been a voracious, greedy, and brutal colonial power but domestically its politics were widely admired for their freedom from graft and corruption. That’s a reputation and standing which has been trashed by the Conservative Party of Boris Johnson just like it ruined the UK’s standing as a state which could be respected and trusted by other nations with its reckless and intensely nationalistic pursuit of the hardest possible Brexit, a Brexit which it is now clear was being sought in order that the Conservatives could secure the position of the City of London as the money laundering capital of the world.

Johnson’s protestations that his sleazy party is not corrupt are disbelieved by a significant number of voters as the sleaze scandal sees the Tories slip significantly in UK-wide polling. According to a poll for The Observer newspaper earlier this year, 37% of people in the UK believe Johnson to be corrupt, a figure that rises to 53% in Scotland. That figure can only have increased over recent weeks.

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For Scotland, the lasting political impact of COP26 will be that the rest of the world now has a much better understanding of what drives support for Scottish independence and why independence is necessary.

Nicola Sturgeon’s expert deployment of Scottish soft power behind the scenes will go a long way to ensuring that when the next independence referendum takes place, other nations will be considerably more sympathetic to Scotland’s cause and their leaders far less willing to do the British Government any favours by releasing statements helpful to the anti-independence cause.

Scottish independence is likely to be one of the lasting legacies of this COP conference.