As world leaders descend on Glasgow for COP26, we explore how much scope there is for the Scottish Government, as a devolved government, to have a presence on the international stage.
The Scotland Act (1998), the founding legislation of the Scottish Parliament, notes that international relations – “including relations with territories outside the United Kingdom, the European Union (and their institutions) and other international organisations, regulation of international trade, and international development assistance and co-operation” - are reserved matters and so beyond the law-making competence of the Scottish Parliament.
It will therefore be Boris Johnson, not Nicola Sturgeon, who hosts the world’s governments in Glasgow, and it will be the UK Government that signs any international agreement that emerges from it. But COP26 is also a good illustration of how it is increasingly difficult to have a clear separation between international relations and domestic issues. Many areas of devolved responsibility, like the environment, health care and justice, have an international dimension. Many regional and devolved governments around the world now try to make their presence felt in the international arena.
Guests: Professor Juliet Kaarbo, The University of Edinburgh and Stephen Gethins, The University of St Andrews