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by Margaret Taylor
18 April 2024
Humza Yousaf: Misleading to say government is rolling back on climate targets

Humza Yousaf has defended his government's climate change plan | Alamy

Humza Yousaf: Misleading to say government is rolling back on climate targets

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has accused the first minister of “following the Tories” by “rolling back” on its climate change commitments.

During today’s session of First Minister’s Questions, Humza Yousaf confirmed that net zero secretary Mairi McAllan will later announce the scrapping of the Scottish Government's interim aim of reducing carbon emissions by 75 per cent by 2030. The target of hitting net zero by 2045 will remain in place.

The decision has come after the Climate Change Committee – an independent body that advises the UK and devolved governments – said last month that the interim goal would not be achieved.

Addressing the chamber, Yousaf said it was “misleading” and a “mischaracterisation of our position” to suggest the government is rolling back on its targets, stressing that the 2045 goal remains in place.

“There is no intention to roll back from that 2045 date in order for us to reach net zero – in order for us to reach net zero, of course, five years ahead of the UK Government,” he said.

“In order for us to continue to have more ambitious climate change targets that Labour-run Wales, for example.

“We, of course, have made progress – between 1990 and 2021 we reduced our carbon emissions faster than any other nation in the UK.

“But let me also be clear that this government will not move back by a single month, a week or even a day from that 2045 target for achieving net zero.”

When Yousaf said that McAllan would lay out the detail of “an accelerated climate change proposal and plan”, Sarwar said that “only Humza Yousaf could believe that slamming the brakes is an acceleration”.

There was then uproar in the chamber when Ariane Burgess of the SNP’s government partner the Scottish Greens asked Yousaf how, in light of the CCC report, the Scottish Government plans to “accelerate action to ensure that Scotland achieves net zero by 2045”.

Yousaf said that McAllan would provide that detail but added that he “welcomes the recognition” from the CCC of “where we have made progress”.

“We also take extremely seriously the fact that we have not made the progress that we've needed to make in order to get to that 2030 target,” he said. “That target is beyond what we are able to achieve […] but we remain absolutely committed to ending Scotland's contribution to climate change in a just and fair way by 2045, and remember that that is ahead of the rest of the UK.”

When the CCC published its report the committee’s interim chair Professor Piers Forster stressed that while Scotland has “laudable ambitions to decarbonise” it is not enough to just set targets – “the government must act,” he said.

“There are risks in all reviewed areas, including those with significant policy powers devolved to the Scottish Government,” he said.

“Scotland’s climate change plan needs to be published urgently, so we can assess it. We need to see actions that will deliver on its future targets.”

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Read the most recent article written by Margaret Taylor - Starmer pledges to put Scotland 'at the beating heart' of clean-energy Britain.

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