Environment committee calls for 'greater urgency of action across all parts of government' on climate change

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 4 March 2019 in News

Releasing its stage one report on the climate change bill, the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee said that “climate change is an intergenerational justice issue”

Image credit: PA

The environment committee has welcomed measures contained in the new climate change bill but called for “a greater urgency of action across all parts of government” in order to help limit rising temperatures to under 1.5C.

Releasing its stage one report on the climate change bill, which targets a 90 per cent emissions reduction by 2050, the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee said that “climate change is an intergenerational justice issue”, adding that “As a developed country Scotland has a responsibility to lead action”.

The report warns that greater clarity is needed on the temperature limit that the bill is aiming to achieve, while target setting should be more transparent.

In their recommendations, MSPs said further consideration should be given to setting sector specific targets within the bill and that “climate justice requires further focus to ensure that the most vulnerable are supported in the transition”.

The report suggests the Scottish Government must give an explanation if it acts contrary to advice from the CCC.

The Committee also backed calls from Labour MSP Claudia Beamish for the Just Transition Commission to be independent and underpinned by statute.

Convener Gillian Martin MSP said: “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.”

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland welcomed the report, with campaigner Caroline Rance calling on MSPs to increase the 2030 target and lay out “concrete measures that will cut climate emissions from transport, housing and food production over the next ten years”.

She said: “It's clear from the evidence given to the Committee that there is plenty of opportunity for Scotland to do more in the vital period before 2030 and the public support for urgent action is loud and clear. By taking positive action in the next few years we can secure warmer homes, better public transport and deliver the support to enable climate-friendly farming.

“Climate change is the most urgent and pressing crisis facing the world and Scotland’s targets for cutting emissions must reflect our commitment to meeting that challenge. It is welcome to hear the Committee emphasising the need for urgency across society to ensure that Scotland creates the positive, transformational change required to deliver our fair share of international effort.”

The report says: “The speed and scale of the changes needed in emissions reductions, emissions pathways and changes to social and technical systems has no precedent in human history. The Committee would like to see this reflected in a greater urgency of action across all parts of Government, across the public and private sectors and by individuals, to deliver the transformational change that is required.”

It adds: “A 90 per cent target is stretching and challenging and a net-zero target will present further challenges but there are likely to be great opportunities. The benefits and cost savings of early action outweigh the costs of the effects of climate change.

“There is potential for innovation, jobs, the economy, the environment and for the well-being of the people of Scotland and beyond, by acting now. The Committee would like to see Scotland at the forefront in exploring, developing and investing in these opportunities and in the technology that will help us reach our emissions targets.”

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