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by Sofia Villegas
21 March 2024
Fixation with targets to blame for climate action failure, Patrick Harvie says

Scottish minister for zero carbon buildings Patrick Harvie | Andrew Perry

Fixation with targets to blame for climate action failure, Patrick Harvie says

The Scottish minister for zero carbon buildings Patrick Harvie has called for a shift in focus to reach net zero by 2045. 

Speaking at Holyrood’s Heat, Housing and the Future of Net Zero Homes event, the minister said: “2045 is absolutely achievable but after 15 years of having climate legislation we have had too much time focused on targets being set as though that makes us world leaders and not enough time focused on the actions that are necessary.”

His declaration follows yesterday’s announcement by the Climate Change Committee (CCC) that Scotland will miss a major emission reduction target. The CCC said it did not believe the Scottish Government would manage to reduce emissions by 75 per cent from 1990 baseline levels by 2030.

Harvie warned that there would have to be “serious conversations across the political spectrum” on how to reset the agenda to “make targets meaningful.”

However, he added that he “sadly expects” some people will be “absolutely opposed” to the climate action needed and will continue to be “fixated” on the objectives without action.

The co-leader of the Scottish Green Party also called for better collaboration between the UK and Scottish Government, given that energy involves both reserved and devolved matters.

He called for the "re-balancing" of gas and electricity prices:

“Scotland is generating abundant, cheap, clean, green renewable electricity but we're not passing the benefit of that on to billpayers because of the way the UK regulates those prices. That's not only undermining the sense of a just transition, it is also acting as a real barrier to people adopting electric systems for their heating or their transport.”

He also said energy prices had been a major driver for fuel poverty over recent years.

 “It's a matter of injustice that Scotland is so successful at decarbonizing our electricity supply, and yet, we're not able to pass that on to the billpayer”, Harvie continued.

“Now, if that fundamental injustice didn't change, then I think it would be extremely difficult to see any set of policies in the current devolved areas alone that would genuinely eradicate fuel poverty because we need to be ensuring that that cheap energy results in cheaper bills. It's cheap to produce but it's not cheap to consume for the people who need it.”

Commenting on the recent consultations on the Heat in Buildings Bill and the social housing net zero standards, Harvie assured that responses would move legislation forward in a way that is “fair” and “protects those who need it” and added this “package of action” would mean Scotland would have “by far the most ambitious programme, in terms of heating buildings in any part of the UK.”

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