Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has told business leaders,attending the UNEP sustainable innovation forum (SIF15) in Paris, that, “Small countries like Scotland, if they have the vision and skills, can punch way above their weight” in cutting carbon emissions.
The Scottish leader, in town to attend negotiations at the UN’s COP21 climate change conference, told leading industrialists that she was particularly optimistic about the “positive atmosphere” of the Paris talks, adding that she hoped a binding agreement could be achieved.
“We now have a moment of opportunity, where there is a growing understanding not just in the developed world, but also in the developing world of how important it is to up our game when it comes to tackling climate change.”
Sturgeon said that technology already existed to deal with the problem of climate change.
"The biggest challenge was now for us to grasp that opportunity. I certainly hope world leaders in Paris this week will take that opportunity.”
She also told attendees that although Scotland was a relatively small country in global terms, it had a strong record of innovative prowess.
“Scotland is a country with a long and celebrated history of innovation that produced many inventors and entrepreneurs who in the 19th century help pioneer the industrial revolution.”
But moving on to the 21st century she stressed that Scotland now had the skills and expertise to play a role in the new “carbon reduction revolution,” adding, “Scotland has a very good story to tell, but we are ambitious to do much more.”
For the Scottish first minister it's not only an issue of looking at carbon emissions but also of reducing energy demand and achieving energy efficiency.
She also highlighted the fact that 50 per cent of Scotland’s electricity is currently produced from renewable sources, “and we have a clear aim to push that 50 per cent to 100 per cent.”
Scotland already has some of the biggest offshore wind farms in Europe and is also investing heavily in tidal energy research.
However the country has been also looking at other energy supply issues apart from production supporting research into smart grids and storage.
Scotland’s transport policy is also helping contribute to cutting carbon emissions. “Aberdeen, world famous for its gas and oil production is now home to Europe’s largest fleet of hydrogen cell fuel buses”, she said.
Sturgeon also said that she wants her country to export the skills and expertise gained from research into renewable energy, “this will help us to not only meet our economic targets, but also help the world to meet its climate change goals.”
Despite political domestic differences between Holyrood and Westminster Sturgeon said she was keen to stress a united front with the UK government at the Paris talks.
However when asked about the lack of financial support for carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology by the Westminster government, an innovation which Scottish companies are market leaders in. She joked that, “It’s very hard for me not to say CCS and David Cameron in the same sentence without swearing.”
Britain's Conservative government announced in November that it had axed a UK-wide carbon capture and storage competition.
“We were very disappointed in Scotland, which is a diplomatic and gentle way of expressing how we felt."
"[Our] bid was as at a highly developed stage, and to have this competition removed at a very late stage was not only economically disappointing but in terms of carbon capture and what we’re trying to achieve was also disappointing too.”
She concluded by saying that, "in the future we are going to see more scrutiny of a country’s rhetoric about what they say on climate change the reality of their policies.”