LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Scotland’s leading Catholic development agency said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has shown “significant leadership” in addressing how climate change is affecting the developing world.

On Monday, Sturgeon said next week’s COP26 summit in Glasgow must fulfil its commitment to keep global temperatures from rising 1.5° from pre-industrial levels.

The Oct. 31-Nov. 12 United Nations meeting will bring together leaders from over 120 countries to discuss climate change. Pope Francis had earlier in the year said he hoped to be able to go to Glasgow for the event, but earlier this month it was announced Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, would instead lead the Holy See’s delegation.

“We take seriously the responsibility of all governments – at all levels – to show ambition, and to galvanise action. If we do that, we can all contribute towards a successful summit,” Sturgeon said in Glasgow during a speech to young people.

“I have said that small countries can lead the way in this, and they can, but in the coming days, it is the countries which emit the most, who most need to step up. They need to make ambitious pledges to achieve net zero. And those pledges must be backed by credible actions,” she said.

“The idea of ‘keeping 1.5 alive’, cannot simply be a face-saving slogan. It must be real. And there must be progress in Glasgow which makes that outcome more likely.”

Sturgeon also noted the damage climate change is having on developing countries, including massive flooding in Nigeria and Uganda and the food crisis in Madagascar.

“Most effort in developed countries is currently on mitigation – on averting the worst impacts of the crisis. Increasingly, and importantly, there is now a focus on adaptation too – on ensuring we can live with the changes that are inevitably to come,” she said.

“But there is a need also to address the loss and damage that has been, and is being, suffered already by communities around the world, due to drought, floods, desertification, loss of life and population displacement,” she continued.

Alistair Dutton, Director of the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF), said the First Minister showed significant leadership on the key issue of providing money to developing countries to help with the loss and damage caused by climate change.

“This is one of the most important commitments we need from world leaders at COP26 – a fair finance package for low-income countries. This should be in grant-form, not as loans. The people on the frontline of the climate emergency, including those SCIAF helps abroad, are already suffering. Rich countries cannot turn a blind eye to the crisis they have caused now that help is needed,” he said.

In her speech, Sturgeon also noted that Scotland was doubling its funding of the Climate Justice Fund, which was established in 2012 to help tackle the effects of climate change in the poorest, most vulnerable countries.

Dutton said SCIAF was pleased to see an increase in the fund, which had been frozen for years.

“This will no doubt help those dealing with the consequences of the climate crisis. It is vital that money enables people to both adapt to their changing climates and overcome the losses and damages they have suffered. This should increase year on year via the Climate Justice Fund,” he said.

“We’ll be standing shoulder to shoulder with those from the Global South at COP26 and are glad the First Minister has provided leadership on this important issue.”

Follow Charles Collins on Twitter: @CharlesinRome