Scottish Government urged to ‘grasp the nettle’ on climate change
The chief executive of the Climate Change Committee (CCC) has called on the Scottish Government to “grasp the nettle” as it updates its climate change plan.
Chris Stark also said ministers must stop blaming the UK Government and “get on with being ambitious”.
He was speaking at the launch of the CCC’s latest report which said Scotland’s lead over the rest of the UK on achieving net zero has been lost.
Acknowledging the report was “very critical”, Stark warned the Climate Change Act may have “lost its integrity” due to a lack of progress on key milestones.
He said that while the ambitious targets had been welcome, it “wasn’t accompanied by deep thinking” about policies required to meet it, accusing government ministers of “magical thinking”.
He also warned that Scotland has “legislation which bites”, pointing to a ruling at the High Court which found the UK Government’s net zero strategy breached its own version of the Climate Change Act.
The Scottish Government welcomed this morning’s report, adding the Scotland was more than halfway to reaching net zero.
Net zero secretary Michael Matheson said action being taken now “will deliver significant emissions reductions” but he also said progress was “dependent on decisions taken by the UK Government. They have not gone far enough, fast enough.”
In response, Stark said: “The message I would like to give to ministers is stop this nonsense of tit for tat, blaming the UK government for this and that. Get on with being ambitious – that is what the Act is there for.”
He also said the while the milestone of cutting emissions by half had been reached in 2020, it was a “hollow celebration because it’s a pandemic effect”.
When asked about the impact of the deal between the SNP and Greens, Stark said: “I suspect that bringing the Greens into government was in part to shake up the process around net zero… It hasn’t had that effect.”
Looking ahead, he said: “I hope next year we’ll be back here with a more positive response to what the Scottish Government has planned for us in the next calendar year. We know that they are planning a new climate plan which will update some of those ambitions. I really, really hope it grasps the nettle.”