THE SCOTTISH Government’s proposed Climate Change Bill lacks credibility, a leading independent body claims today.
The influential UK Committee on Climate Change warns that unless strengthened, the new Bill will fail to do enough to meet its strategic obligations towards tackling climate change.
Scottish Government ministers currently plan a 90 per cent cut in emissions by 2050. Campaigners say this should be higher and earlier.
The CCC report is a significant intervention in the wake of public consultation into the Bill closing last Friday and ahead of the Scottish government publishing its final draft of the legislation.
And for the SNP led administration, stakes are high, as it looks to find its new centre flanked as it is by Brexit and IndyRed2 concerns too.
Just 20 days ago First Minister Nicola Sturgeon planted the seeds for a green revolution in Scotland.
She stood in parliament at Holyrood and announced the end of fossil fuel cars, gave cash for walking and cycling activities, hinted the oil was being elbowed out by wind and solar and that greenification had truly begun.
In the sunrise and days that followed there were bursts of applause, some whooping and hurrahing and all was good.
Environmentalists enjoyed the hope she promised.
But as details are pored over, it seems she and her government have a choice.
Stick with the short-term headline hugging step in the right direction – or position Scotland truly as a world leader on fighting climate change.
Its proposed Climate Change Bill lays out key plans for 2050 – particularly over emissions – which campaigners say don’t go far enough.
The new report released today by the UK Committee on Climate Change warns that unless strengthened, the new Bill will fail.
And it states a series of recommendations it says will be needed if it is to be truly world leading and fit for purpose.
It says: “The final plan, due in February 2018, will need to set out firmer policies to meet these targets.
“Action taken now will also need to pave the way to meet Scotland’s higher ambition to reduce its emissions by 90% in 2050 on 1990 levels (previously set at a minimum reduction of 80%).
“This is a suitable contribution to global efforts to tackle climate change as required by the Paris Agreement.”
It goes on to add: “The draft Climate Change Plan contains limited new policy to deliver emissions reductions to 2032 beyond existing commitments. Without effective new policies, progress seen in recent years is unlikely to continue into the 2020s.
“The credibility of the proposed 90% emissions target for 2050 will be compromised if Scotland fails to lay the groundwork over the period to 2030.”
Tom Ballantine, Chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland said: “This report shows that if Scotland is to step up to the moral challenge posed by climate change, the Scottish Government must strengthen its plans for the new Climate Change Bill.
“The CCC have rightfully praised the First Minister’s recent commitment to phase out polluting petrol and diesel cars, which is a huge step forward in cleaning up air pollution and climate emissions.
“These kinds of transformational new policies are a necessity if we are to deliver on our commitment to the Paris Agreement.
“However, the Committee makes very clear that the Scottish Government needs to surge ahead now with credible action plans for housing, agriculture and transport if we’re to successfully play our part in tackling climate change.
“Having made progressive commitments on transport, the Scottish Government now needs to put in place the necessary policies to deliver on these commitments, and to increase action on energy efficient housing and low-emission agriculture.
“Over 18,000 people across Scotland have called on the Scottish Government to be bolder in the forthcoming Bill and set a legal target for net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest, together with stronger action for warmer homes, healthier travel and greener farming.
“This will create thousands of jobs, improve health, and reduce poverty and ensure that Scotland provides global leadership on climate change.”
Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, Lord Deben, said: “Scotland’s level of ambition in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and tackling climate change is amongst the highest in the world. Our report shows that Scotland continues to lead the UK in this area, as Scotland’s emissions continue to fall year on year.
“The Scottish Government’s Climate Change Plan will deliver the next chapter of emissions reductions into the 2030s and beyond.
“It’s therefore essential that further work is done to ramp up emissions reductions right across the Scottish economy and think through how to reduce emissions from heating Scotland’s buildings and from transport, amongst other areas.
“The process of review and revision should enable this to happen in time for the adoption of the final Climate Change Plan early next year.”
Want to learn more? Read: CCC report – Scotland needs to take more action to meet its ambitious climate change plans