IT’S hard to believe that it’s been a year since COP26. For those 13 days last November, Scotland was at the centre of global events, with politicians, journalists, scientists and activists from around the world all coming to Glasgow.

There was a clear sense of urgency among many of the delegates and a real awareness that time is running out. Yet, despite some useful steps on coal reduction and deforestation, it proved to be a failure. There were lots of big promises made in the lead-up, but by the end of the conference, many of those warm words had already turned to dust.

Leading the lofty rhetoric was then prime minister Boris Johnson. In the lead-up to the event, he said that climate change was “the biggest threat to security that modern humans have ever faced” and warned that we were at “one minute to midnight on the doomsday clock”.

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He was right. Yet in the aftermath of the summit, his government doubled down on fossil fuels, announcing an expansion of oil and gas exploration licences in the North Sea.

Johnson’s successor, Rishi Sunak, may finally have been shamed into attending COP27 in Egypt – but being in the room is not enough. He will be judged on the things he says while he’s there but also – far more importantly – on the policies he implements and the actions he takes.

If COP26 was “our last best chance” to tackle the climate crisis, then COP27 really is the last chance saloon. It has to succeed in all of the areas where last year’s summit failed. We simply can’t afford another wasted opportunity.

The climate crisis used to be talked about as if it was a far-off, distant threat – but it’s happening all around us.

The kind of extreme weather events that were once written off as exaggerations and scare stories are happening all the time and are only becoming more common. Over the summer, we saw record temperatures and wildfires taking place across Europe, with even parts of London burning.

In Pakistan, we have seen devastating floods, which have displaced hundreds of thousands of people and created a humanitarian disaster.

Yet, for the fossil fuel giants, times have rarely been better. Last week, Shell reported profits of $11.5 billion for July-September alone, while BP raked in $8.2bn.

Just think about those staggering sums and how much good could be done with that money. Yet the UK Government can’t even bring itself to apply a meaningful windfall tax.

Earlier this year, in a candid moment, BP’s chief financial officer Murray Auchincloss admitted to shareholders that the company has more money than it knows what to do with.

Oil company executives are sitting on vast fortunes beyond even their wildest dreams while millions of households and families are forced to choose between freezing and starving.

If these kinds of crises and disasters aren’t enough to concentrate the minds of decision-makers, what more will it take? How much worse would things need to get?

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Last week, the United Nations warned that the window for climate action is closing rapidly, with the UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres saying that “commitments to net zero are worth zero without the plans, policies and actions to back it up.”

The reality is that no government is doing enough.

Here in Scotland, we are taking vitally important steps, with record investment in recycling, renewables, nature and much-needed infrastructure for walking, wheeling and cycling.

We have delivered a ban on new incinerators and single-use plastic and have established a £500m just transition fund for Moray and the North East to ensure that the communities at the heart of the oil industry are also at the heart of our recovery.

This is all important work, but much of it should have been done years ago. These steps will be key to building a greener future, but we cannot completely undo the environmental impact of years of bad decisions and priorities.

In Scotland, we are also restricted by the severe and punishing constraints of a broken devolution settlement. When it comes to energy policy, the most important powers all lie with a Westminster government which has shown a total disregard for people and the planet. Last month, the RSPB and other wildlife charities warned that they are using Brexit as an excuse to dilute the vital protections for nature by rolling back on commitments that were made while the UK was in the European Union.

We have an abundance of resources and a vast renewable potential, but we have barely been able to scratch the surface.

Scotland is not the only country that needs to rapidly decarbonise. There are governments around the world that face the same challenges that we do.

One of the positive developments has been the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance, which has seen small countries like Sweden, Denmark and New Zealand working with others to ensure that they are moving forward together. This week, at First Minister’s Questions, I urged the Scottish Government to join them.

It must be the biggest polluters that make the biggest changes, whether that is the oil and gas companies that are laughing their way to the bank or the governments that have enabled them.

The climate crisis is a global one, but its impacts are being felt very differently. That is why the focus can’t just be on reducing emissions – it also has to be on delivering climate justice.

Carbon burnt anywhere can impact people everywhere. The oil company executives that are toasting their profits in their expensive offices could not be more isolated and detached from the consequences of their actions.

Meanwhile, the communities that are made to pay the biggest price are almost always the ones that have the least, and that bear the least responsibility. For billions of people in the Global South, climate change is about life and death.

They cannot afford any more empty words or gestures.

Whether it is their air quality, water quality or the food chain, decisions made now will impact almost every aspect of their lives.

At heart is the question of what kind of world we want to leave to future generations. The decisions that are made in Egypt over the days ahead will have consequences for generations to come.