Action not words needed on climate change

Climate strikes

Environmental campaigners have said the Scottish Government needs to back-up climate change targets with wide-ranging action

26th September 2019 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Environmental campaigners have said actions not targets will define whether Scotland is serious about climate change.

The Climate Change Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament this week, with goals for cutting carbon emissions strengthened.

Ministers agreed to a target of a 75% reduction by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, with no MSP voting against the plans.

Organisations calling for action on climate change have generally welcomed the legislation, but said it is important that wide-ranging efforts are made to create the change required to meet the goals.

Tom Ballantine, of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, said: “This bill sets a strong long-term target to reduce emissions to net-zero by 2045 and drive action in the crucial next decade. We were particularly pleased to see all parties coming together today to increase the 2030 target.

“Today’s last minute increase in ambition from parliament is thanks to extensive public pressure, particularly the incredible youth-led climate marches last week. Campaigners should feel rightly proud of having moved Scotland’s climate action a significant step forward.

“Today’s new climate law is not the end; it’s what comes next that will show whether Scotland is really serious about tackling this crisis. Urgent action must follow, with these targets driving rapid and immediate action to move away from fossil fuels in our homes, transport and energy.”

Mary Church, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland, called on politicians to ensure that plans are scrutinised.

“We are in the middle of a climate emergency and the public clamour for transformative action and just transition to a zero carbon economy is growing,” she said.

“It is disappointing that parliament missed the opportunity to put the Just Transition Commission on a statutory basis in the new climate change law, and that ministers are not required to identify the scale and sources of the investment that is urgently needed to deliver a Just Transition to a zero carbon economy.

“We urge ministers to ensure that after the initial two-year remit of the Just Transition Commission there is long-term oversight and scrutiny of plans to tackle the climate emergency to ensure these are carried out in a way which is fair to workers and communities, and improves social inclusion.”

Extinction Rebellion Scotland said the legislation did not look like an "emergency response", saying: "The politicians have failed us. They do not have the ability or foresight to make the radical changes necessary to limit global warming."

Jo Pike, chief executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “To achieve these ambitious targets every part of our society urgently needs to make radical changes. At the same time, we must see a much greater, and more strategic, investment in nature. This means not only protecting and restoring carbon-rich habitats including peatlands, woodlands and kelp forests, but also greening our towns and cities, and ensuring that the environment is put at the heart of decision making.”

Dave Moxham, deputy general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress said: "The climate emergency is the biggest threat facing society, therefore it is vital that we act to cut emissions, and fast. To ensure that we succeed in the task it is crucial that tackling the climate crisis is done in a way which protects and enhances the livelihoods of workers and communities.”

Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said the Scottish Government is committed to creating change.

She said: “Our new Climate Change Bill demonstrates what international leadership on climate action means. Not only are we setting legally binding targets to reduce emissions to net-zero in direct response to the Paris Agreement, we are also putting in place the most stringent framework of statutory targets of any country in the world.

“We have already almost halved emissions since 1990. The second half of Scotland’s journey to net-zero emissions will, undoubtedly, require different, and in many cases much more difficult, choices than has been the case to date but it is clear people across Scotland want to see action.

“No one should be in any doubt of the Scottish Government’s commitment to use every policy lever at our disposal to rise to this challenge.”