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Scottish Parliament passes climate change bill

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Scottish Parliament passes climate change bill

The Scottish Parliament has voted to pass the Climate Change Bill after MSPs backed a Scottish Labour amendment aimed at strengthening targets.

The climate change bill was passed by 113 votes to zero, with the Scottish Greens abstaining after MSPs rejected the party’s bid to target an 80 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030.

But SNP, Scottish Tory and Scottish Lib Dem MSPs supported an amendment from Scottish Labour MSP Claudia Beamish for a 75 per cent cut in emissions by 2030.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said the government was "putting in place the most stringent framework of statutory targets of any country in the world", but the Scottish Greens claimed it did not go far enough.

Climate spokesperson Mark Ruskell warned, “let’s not pretend this bill is anywhere near meaningful action to address the climate emergency”.

Meanwhile ministers faced criticism from environmental campaigners after rejecting calls to establish the Just Transition Commission on a statutory basis.

The bill includes targets for Scotland to become a net-zero society by 2045, with ministers planning to commission new advice from the Committee on Climate Change on the UK wide pathway to 2030.

Ministers will be required to report annually on the progress made in tackling climate change in each sector, while a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change will be established to make recommendations on how a net-zero transition should be achieved.

Cunningham said: “Our new Climate Change Bill demonstrates what international leadership on climate action means. Not only are we setting legally binding targets to reduce emissions to net-zero in direct response to the Paris Agreement, we are also putting in place the most stringent framework of statutory targets of any country in the world.

“We have already almost halved emissions since 1990. The second half of Scotland’s journey to net-zero emissions will, undoubtedly, require different, and in many cases much more difficult, choices than has been the case to date but it is clear people across Scotland want to see action.

“No one should be in any doubt of the Scottish Government’s commitment to use every policy lever at our disposal to rise to this challenge.

“Our end target is firmly based on what we are told is the limit of what can currently be achieved.  It is the maximum possible ambition based upon the best available science and requires the UK to take action to meet their targets if Scotland is to meet ours. In the interim, while there is some uncertainty over the precise route that can be taken, we believe it is right to be as ambitious as possible to drive the action required to make the changes we need. “

Scottish Green climate spokesperson Mark Ruskell said: “This bill represents progress, but it is progress at a snail’s pace, and as one climate striker last week put it: ‘It's no good being the fastest snail’ in the face of a global crisis.

“The lack of ambition on the ten-year timescale demanded by climate science, for example, ignores the demands of the tens of thousands who took to the streets last week.

“I secured some commitments, on warm homes and a citizens assembly, as well as some important new requirements on reporting and recording emissions, but let’s not pretend this bill is anywhere near meaningful action to address the climate emergency.

“The other parties cannot hide behind targets. Targets are meaningless without action to meet them. To achieve meaningful system change and build a future for all we need the ambition laid out in our Scottish Green New Deal.

“This would mean taking action to phase out reliance on fossil fuels, creating an integrated public transport system to cut car use, meeting warm homes commitments with mass retrofitting and reforesting Scotland to at least the EU average.

“The Scottish Government has not committed to any of these things today, and we will continue to press them to do so.”

Mary Church, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "We are in the middle of a climate emergency and the public clamour for transformative action and just transition to a zero carbon economy is growing.

"It is disappointing that parliament missed the opportunity to put the Just Transition Commission on a statutory basis in the new Climate Change law, and that ministers are not required to identify the scale and sources of the investment that is urgently needed to deliver a Just Transition to a zero carbon economy.

"We urge ministers to ensure that after the initial two-year remit of the Just Transition Commission there is long-term oversight and scrutiny of plans to tackle the climate emergency to ensure these are carried out in a way which is fair to workers and communities, and improves social inclusion.

"We also urge ministers and MSPs to back putting a just transition to meet Scotland's climate change targets in the founding legislation of the Scottish National Investment Bank when that Bill is debated tomorrow [Thursday]."

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