MSPs call for greater urgency on climate change

MSPs have called for greater urgency for taking action on climate change in Scotland.

A Scottish Parliament committee said new legislation proposing an improved emissions target puts the country at the “forefront of global ambition” on the issue.

It would see a 10% increase in Scotland’s current target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 80% of the 1990 level by 2050.

In a report on the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill, Holyrood’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform committee said the Scottish Government needs to “increase and accelerate” action in the short-term, if targets are to be met.

The new law would also bring in a tougher interim target of a 66% reduction by 2030.

Among a series of recommendations, the report said the new legislation should stipulate what temperature the targets seek to achieve and suggested this limits global temperate change to 1.5C.

The committee said the legislation should reflect the most ambitious targets to be set out in forthcoming advice from the UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC), in light of the international Paris agreement in 2015, and recommends the Government gives an explanation if it acts contrary to the CCC advice, which has not happened in the past.

Additional recommendations include further consideration to setting targets within the Bill for specific sectors, such as agriculture or housing, and more transparency on target setting.

Specific policies to meet targets should have been an “integral” part of the legislation, the report said, and it criticised the Government for failing to provide costed measures.

Committee convener Gillian Martin said: “Our committee welcomes the introduction of the Climate Change Bill and the opportunity to examine how Scotland can take action on global warming.

“There is no precedent in human history for the speed and scale of change needed to tackle climate change and reduce harmful emissions.

“We want to see greater urgency and action across all parts of government, across the wider public and private sectors and by individuals, to deliver the transformational change needed to reach our targets.

“We’ve all seen the catastrophic damage caused by climate change all around the world, and the threat this has on people’s lives, wildlife and our natural environment.

“That’s why we’ve called for the bill to reflect the most ambitious targets possible, to ensure future generations inherit a world that is healthy and sustainable.”

Caroline Rance, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland and member of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, welcomed the committee’s push for urgency.

She said: ““MSPs must now use the parliamentary process to increase the 2030 target and lay out the concrete measures that will cut climate emissions from transport, housing and food production over the next ten years.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman also welcomed the report and said it would be studied carefully and responded to in due course.

She said: “Our Bill contains the most ambitious statutory targets of any country in the world for 2020, 2030 and 2040, and will mean Scotland is carbon neutral by 2050.

“We want to go further and achieve net-zero emissions for all greenhouse gases as soon as possible. We’ll set a target date as soon as this can be done credibly and responsibly.

“We are currently awaiting advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change, which is due on 2 May. If the committee advise that we can now set even more ambitious targets, we will act on that.”