By Rory Reynolds
FIRST Minster Alex Salmond hopes whisky will inspire Barack Obama to change the world.
Cheeky Salmond said he would gift the US president a bottle of Scotland’s finest malt – 42 per-cent proof – to mirror ambitious new world emission reduction targets for 2020.
Salmond, who believes Scotland could have a key role in climate change, said yesterday: “Firstly I’d give him a bottle of our specially blended whisky for the Copenhagen summit – 42 per-cent proof.
“And I will give him the bottle of whisky as an inspiration to show him what can be done.
“And unless the United States can get their targets up, it will be watered-down whisky he gets in the future.”The First Minister was speaking at the launch of Scotland’s 2020 delivery group.
He said Scotland will become the “green powerhouse for the whole of Europe.”
Made up of 25 business leaders and eco-warriors from all walks of life – including Stagecoach supremo Brian Souter and managing director of Lloyds Banking Group in Scotland Lady Susan Rice – the group met at the Falkirk Wheel for the first time yesterday.
Arranged to coincide with the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Denmark, they vowed to lead the way in the pollution fight by slashing emissions by 42 per-cent before 2020 – the highest pledged cut from any developed country.
However, Obama knows America would struggle to swallow Salmond’s whisky-strength emissions reduction target.
The White House confirmed last night that the President will table an emission-cutting target just 17 per-cent below 2005 levels when he jets in to the closing stages of the fortnight-long global gathering in Copenhagen.
LibDem leader Tavish Scott hit out at Salmond for being in Falkirk instead of the Copenhagen summit.
But the SNP leader hit back, saying critics of his commitment to renewable energy should “get out more.”
He said: “We’ve got grid-connected wave and tide devices, I turned one on two weeks ago in Orkney.
“Yes the wave and tide technology has probably got some years to come before it becomes truly viable, but it is going to come.
“The question is going to be can we maximise that impact so instead of just producing enough renewable energy for Scotland, we can perhaps produce ten times that over the next generation and become the green powerhouse for the whole of Europe – that’s the challenge.
“And the folk who don’t think that’s happening want to get out more.”
The stature of those on Salmond’s new climate target team was heralded as “remarkable” by Dr Richard Dixon, director of WWF Scotland.
He said: “Copenhagen is quite simply the most important international meeting the world has ever had.
“Climate change is a challenge for all of us.
“It will affect us all and we are all contributing to the problem.
“Government, businesses and individuals all need to work together to reduce our emissions so the 2020 Delivery Group is a very welcome development.
“This is a remarkable group of leaders from business, the public sector and civil society.
“This is exactly what is needed if we are to deliver on Scotland’s target of a 42 per cent reduction in climate emissions by 2020.
“We will need new thinking and new alliances and the 2020 delivery group will really help to make this happen.”
But LibDem leader Tavish Scott said Salmond was not truly focussed on climate change.
He said: “Alex Salmond has four jobs – MP, MSP, First Minister and now Junior Minister for the Constitution. No wonder he can’t find the time to get to Copenhagen.
“The First Minister made a real fuss about not being invited to Copenhagen, so people will now wonder why he is snubbing his own event.
“Just this week a poll showed that two thirds of Scots think climate change is an immediate and urgent problem. Another poll showed that support for independence is slumping.
“The First Minister needs to dump his obsession with independence and focus on the issues that really matter to people in Scotland.
“The Labour Government’s decision not to invite the Scottish Government to Copenhagen as part of the UK delegation was petty and wrong.
“It’s good that Scottish Ministers are attending regardless, but the First Minister should be there too.”