PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) — Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Tuesday that independence from the United Kingdom, combined with partnerships around the world, is the best way for her country to build a fairer society at home and to make a positive contribution elsewhere.
Sturgeon made the comments while addressing academics and students at Stanford University in California during her weeklong tour of the United States,
"Our modern identity will remain open, outward-looking and inclusive," she said. "And Scotland will of course continue to build partnerships around the world — including with governments, businesses and universities here in California and across the United States."
Sturgeon said independence is something that will be debated across Scotland in the months ahead, with the country planning to hold a referendum on independence sometime between fall 2018 and spring 2019.
But the immediate point is that the U.K. government must recognize that the people of Scotland have the right to make the choice, she said.
In June, the U.K. voted to leave the European Union sparking outrage in Scotland where the majority was opposed.
During her hour-long talk Tuesday, Sturgeon also discussed Scotland's priorities in tackling climate change. On Monday, she signed a climate change agreement with California Gov. Jerry Brown.
"Both of us want to apply our capacity for innovation to tackling what is arguably the biggest environmental, economic and moral issue facing the world," she said.
In 2009 the Scottish Parliament passed what at that time were the most ambitious statutory climate change targets in the world. Sturgeon said Scotland has met its first major target five years early and is looking to go further.
Scotland already produces more than 50 percent of its net electricity demand through renewable sources.
The world's largest tidal power array is being developed in Pentland Firth, and the largest floating offshore windfarm is being built off the north eastern coast.