- 01 October 2019
By Bob Doris MSP
I have been contacted my a number of constituents regarding the Climate Change Bill, which I supported. I would like to give a bit more background, and my thoughts on this very important issue.
Following the Stage 3 process in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 25th of September, I am pleased to say that MSPs have voted and the bill will now become law.
The Scottish Government has now set legally binding targets to reduce emissions to net-zero in direct response to the Paris Agreement, the most stringent framework of statutory targets of any country in the world have now been set in motion. Taking into context, Scotland has already almost halved emissions since 1990. The Scottish Government has been very clear that the second half of Scotland’s journey to net-zero emissions will certainly require different and in many cases much more difficult choices than has been the case to date. It is clear people across Scotland want to see action with the Scottish Government’s commitment to use every policy lever at its disposal to rise to this challenge.
There have been understandable calls for the Scottish Government to create the most ambitious interim target possible for 2030 and to be net zero for carbon emissions by 2045. The Scottish Government has listened.
The independent UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) set out the most robust scientific assessment of the right targets for Scotland and the UK. It is clear that our 2045 target is correct and the most ambitious scientifically feasible. That is why I supported this. The CCC has been clear that there is a gap in their detailed analysis of the path for emissions in the years up to 2045. They set out that, in the absence of that detailed work, their initial analysis suggested that the right target for Scotland for 2030 was 70%.
They explicitly said that they had chosen a “prudent” target of 70% - and The Scottish Government has always been clear that it believes this meets the requirements of the Paris Climate Agreement. However, it is clear that now is the time for even greater ambition in tackling the world’s climate emergency. Therefore, the Scottish Government committed to going further and I supported this.
The Scottish Government has now adopted- in law- an ambitious new target to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030. This is the toughest statutory target of any country in the world for this date and goes beyond what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said is required worldwide to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.
However, the Scottish Government is prepared to go further. To ensure that an evidence-based approach continues, the Scottish Government will commission new advice from the Committee on Climate Change on the UK wide pathway to 2030. Scottish Government will seek further advice from the Committee on Climate Change. A new Climate Change Plan showing the pathway to the targets out to 2032 will be published within six months of the bill receiving royal assent. This will help inform on the decisions that must be taken across all Scottish policy portfolios to not just set ambitious targets but also meet them.
Our journey to becoming a net-zero society must leave no one behind – we must take it together. The Scottish Government will do so based on the principles of just transition and mutual national endeavour. Accountability for meeting the targets will improve with Ministers now required to report on progress to tackle climate change in every sector, every year. A Citizens’ Assembly on climate change will make recommendations to Ministers on how the net-zero transition will be successful.
The Scottish Government is also currently consulting on plans for public sector bodies to set a date for zero emissions – under which buildings, estates and entire operations would cease to generate any emissions.
The easy bit is setting targets but delivering on them is the challenge. That challenge is not just one for politicians but for wider society as difficult decisions are decided. You will be well aware of the fierce opposition to the proposal to give Councils the power to consider a workplace-parking levy. I am particularly heartened to welcome the Citizens Assembly as bold decisions will be required and I very much hope we can do that as a society.