Talking Point: Beyond 2020

Written by on 3 July 2014

It might be a slightly terrifying thought but 2020, the D-Day for what seems like all government targets, is only six years away.
By that time in Scotland, carbon emissions should be cut by 42 per cent, the equivalent of 100 per cent of electricity supply should be coming from renewable energy and actions to improve biodiversity should have seen the development of a more diverse and stronger environment.
Yes, the old cliché of a week being a long time in politics still rings true and all manner of unseen events will have happened by 2020 – in that time, we will have had one Olympics with another on the way and another Football World Cup.
But, at the same time, the politicians elected in the next couple of years, whether for the UK or Scottish Parliaments, will be coming to the end of their terms – already, the time to make those important decisions to ensure 2020 targets are met is slipping away.
Last month a milestone of sorts was reached; there are 2020 days until 2020 and the clock is ticking. This is the reason why campaigners are already lifting their eyes to see past the target date and setting their sights even further in the future.
Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group, the organisation set up to help the business community and wider society help Scotland meet its tough targets, and chaired by former SSE chief Ian Marchant, is already planning for the next step, setting up, with charity Young Scot, the 2050 Young Leaders Group for 18-30 year olds – who, after all, will have to live with the effects of climate change.
At the same time, WWF Scotland has appointed energy and environment consultancy Ricardo-AEA and University College London to explore potential 2030 renewables targets, looking at possible scenarios for heat, electricity and transport.
Later this year the EU Council of Ministers and European Parliament will vote on a package of measures looking at further environmental measures taking them up to 2030.
EU Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, who is approaching the end of her term, spoke to Holyrood for its Climate Change edition in June and was in no doubt of just how important the 2030 targets were, saying: “We can choose to go down the road towards green prosperity and a more sustainable future or we can choose a pathway to stalemate and do nothing, leaving an enormous bill for our kids and grandkids to pay.”
Like the mountain stages of the Tour de France, as each peak approaches, another one is just over the horizon and the work needed to get there in one piece just gets harder and harder.

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