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by Chris Marshall
07 November 2023
Scottish Government postpones climate change plan blaming UK Government ‘backtracking’

Net zero secretary Mairi McAllan and First Minister Humza Yousaf | Alamy

Scottish Government postpones climate change plan blaming UK Government ‘backtracking’

Net zero secretary Mairi McAllan has blamed the UK Government for backtracking on its environmental commitments after the Scottish Government postponed its draft climate change plan.

The draft climate change plan, which sets out details of progress towards meeting Scotland’s net zero targets, was due for publication this month.

But McAllan said that due to recent UK Government announcements, additional time would be required before the plan could be put before parliament.  

She said: “Scotland has some of the world’s most ambitious climate change targets for emission reductions and we are already halfway to net zero. However, we have always been clear that the hardest part lies ahead.

“Regrettably, the UK Government’s recent actions have only made that job harder still, not least when it comes to our homes and transport. While we are working to make our homes greener and easier to heat and reduce our reliance on petrol and diesel cars, the UK Government is reneging on its own commitments, creating huge uncertainty for businesses and households.

“A fair and just transition will bring enormous benefits – a greener environment, cleaner air, new sources of economic vitality, greater energy security and healthier lives. That is why it is important that we take the time that is needed to get this plan right.”

Chris Stark, chief executive of the UK’s Climate Change Committee, said the government’s decision was “very disappointing”.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, he said: “We agreed to push back @theCCCuk annual Scottish Progress Report to review the Scottish Government’s new climate plan - due at the end of this year. Now it seems we’ll have nothing to review.”

Jamie Livingstone, head of Oxfam Scotland, said: “News that the Scottish Government is now delaying its Climate Change Plan is deeply troubling. 

“Instead of kicking the climate can ever further down the road, we need to see our political leaders, both in Westminster and the Scottish Parliament, focus on how to quickly and fairly decarbonise our economy: funded by making the biggest and richest polluters pay for their damage while protecting the pockets of the poorest households. Every fraction of a degree of warming makes a difference; and every delay in cleaning up our act costs lives.”  

The Scottish Government target is for Scotland to reach net zero by 2045 – five years ahead of the UK. The update climate plan must be finalised by 23 March 2025, with the Scottish Parliament having 120 to scrutinise it in draft.

Last month, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pushed back the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035 and changed the rules on the phase out of gas and oil-fired boilers. Sunak said his government remained "absolutely unequivocal" about sticking to the 2050 net zero target.

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