Opening of the Pavilion and #Time4MultilevelAction High Level Dialogue
Coinciding with the World Leaders’ Summit at COP 26, the first session of the #Time4MultilevelAction High Level Dialogue convened with the aim of exploring options to influence the outcomes of COP 26 and ensuring multilevel action becomes the new normal in the next phase of the Paris Agreement, as the “beacon of hope for ambitious action in the age of climate emergency.”
The opening events of the Multilevel Action Pavilion at COP 26 were convened by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, in its capacity as the Focal Point for the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) Constituency to the UNFCCC, and hosted by the Scottish Government. The events highlighted:
- the importance of local and regional efforts to ensure governments are able to achieve their targets on reducing carbon emissions;
- the need to make the voices of local constituents more prominent in local and regional governments, so policies are more directly transferred into actions; and
- the role of the private sector and industries, such as the whisky industry, in raising ambition and achieving climate targets.
An opening panel consisted of city and county mayors, state governors, and ministers from the US, Brazil, the Republic of Korea, and Hungary, among others. Moderator Gino van Begin, ICLEI Secretary-General, posed questions to panellists on how their cities, counties, states, and countries aim to achieve carbon neutrality.
Sustainability and Women’s Leadership in the Whisky Industry
Following the initial high-level dialogue, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, opened a second event to showcase the leadership role women play in the whisky industry and how this industry can advance Scotland's net-zero target ambitions. The all-female panel was moderated by Becky Paskin, Co-Founder, OurWhisky, and included, apart from First Minister Sturgeon, Annabel Thomas, CEO and Founder of Nc’Nean, Scotland’s first net-zero distillery, and Karen Betts, CEO, Scotch Whisky Association.
Sturgeon welcomed “the world” to the Multilevel Action Pavilion at COP 26, saying the aim is to highlight the crucial role of cities, states, and sub-national governments in helping to tackle the climate crisis. She said COP 26 is not only the best opportunity, but probably the last opportunity to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, and emphasized that “failure is simply not an option.”
Sturgeon noted that while Scotland seeks to lead by example, “we need to do more,” stressing Scotland is not doing everything it could do or should be doing. Noting that though governments like Scotland might not be sitting at the negotiating table, they still have a vital role to play. She reported that about half of all the reduction in emissions required to meet the 1.5°C target depend on actions taken by governments such as Scotland. Emphasizing the need for increased ambition, she expressed hope that Scotland will meet its near-term goal of a 75% reduction in fossil-fuel dependence by 2030. Sturgeon said it is incumbent on every government to stretch their ambition and to do as much as possible as fast as possible, no matter how tough the task might be.
On the role of industry in addressing climate change, she highlighted one of Scotland’s leading industries, the whisky industry, and expressed her pleasure at being part of an all-female panel representing the industry. Emphasizing the importance of whisky production to Scotland, she stated that the whisky industry’s sustainability trajectory is among the best in the world with the aim of reaching net-zero by 2040, a full decade ahead of the global target.
Responding to a question on why net-zero should be important to Scotland, Sturgeon said every country has an obligation to reach net-zero by the middle of the century and urged “getting there more quickly.” She explained that Scotland has the ability to reach net-zero by 2045, but said the Scottish government must show strong leadership during COP 26. In conclusion, she described Glasgow as “the best city in world” and, recalling its leading role during the industrial era, she expressed hope the city will, through its role in hosting COP 26, also lead the globe into a net-zero world.
Following the panel discussion, ICLEI Secretary-General Gino van Begin invited all Blue Zone parties and participants, in true Scottish fashion, to a whisky-tasting reception.
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