Scotland considers its own Climate Bill

Plans for a law which would oblige Scotland to make significant cuts to its carbon emissions over coming decades were unveiled at Holyrood this week.

The Scottish Government announced it would consult on plans to introduce a Climate Change Bill similar to that put forward by central Government last year.

The proposed Scottish Bill goes further, however, suggesting a target of an 80% cut by 2050 rather than the 60% proposed by Westminster.

Scotland is already covered by the central Bill, which covers the whole of the UK, not just Enlgand.

But like its southern predecessor, it disappoints environmental campaigners, as it too lacks the year on year targets seen by many as vital to ensure action.

Campaigners also claim there has been a breach of trust as the ruling SNP’s election manifesto pledged annual targets.

Scotland could have the most demanding statutory targets in the world and put Scotland at the front of the global fight against climate change.

John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth pointed out that Scotland would nevertheless have the most demanding statutory targets in the world.

“Climate change threatens our people, our economy, our societies, and our very existence. It can only be tackled if we all work together – in this Parliament, in Scotland, in the UK, and across the world,” he said.

“We will play our part. We will introduce a Scottish Climate Change Bill and consult on a mandatory long-term target to reduce our emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

“This target is equivalent of emissions reductions of three per cent each year. To ensure sustained progress towards this goal, we will consult on proposals for targets based on average annual reductions over a five year period.

“The Bill will also propose a requirement that Ministers are held to account in the event of failure to meet emissions reductions.”

The World Development Movement is among the NGO’s disappointed by a lack of annual targets.

The WDM’s Kirsty Shiller told edie: “The urgency to get acting on this requires these targets to be binding. The SNP recognised that in the election process but is now reneging on its election pledges.

“The reality of politics is that if you don’t get a binding target, there’s not going to be the same pressure to do it.

“We’ve heard lots of different arguments – they’ve been well-rehearsed at Westminster [but] the reality is without the pressure of a binding target it’s very easy to leave it to the next year or pass it on to the next government.”

Sam Bond

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