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by Tom Freeman
15 May 2019
SNP commitments on climate change to be tested at next budget, Roseanna Cunningham warned

Roseanna Cunningham - Holyrood

SNP commitments on climate change to be tested at next budget, Roseanna Cunningham warned

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has been told the government’s commitment to tackle the climate emergency will be tested in the discussions around Derek Mackay’s next budget. 

During a statement by Cunningham to MSPs, Scottish Green Mark Ruskell said his party would only back the budget if it included actions on climate change and a ‘Green New Deal’ at its heart. 

The SNP’s previous three budgets have only passed with the backing of the Greens. 

Cunningham’s statement comes after the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) recommended Scotland become ‘net zero’ by 2045, meaning the country absorbs as much carbon as it produces.  

The Scottish Government pledged to follow the recommendations, and promptly dropped plans to cut airport departure tax. 

Cunningham said the next programme for government and spending review would reflect the new priorities. 

“An emergency needs a systematic response that is appropriate to the scale of the challenge—not a knee-jerk, piecemeal reaction,” Cunningham said.  

“All cabinet secretaries are looking across the full range of policy areas to identify areas where we can go further, faster.” 

Ruskell welcomed the commitments, but said: “I make it clear that the Greens will not commit to negotiations on the next annual budget unless it has climate change and a green new deal at its heart.” 

The statement puts pressure on ministers to commit spending to renewables and electric vehicles infrastructure and other measures. 

Cunningham said she could not reply on Derek Mackay’s behalf, but added: “With climate change being at the heart of the next programme for government, I think that Mark Ruskell can expect there to be some interesting discussions to be had.” 

Speaking after the debate, Ruskell said: “I’m delighted that the Scottish Government are listening to the Greens and are committing to put the climate at the heart of its next programme for government and spending review. However, the climate emergency cannot wait for a spending review.  

“The Greens will not support any future Scottish Government budget unless it puts a Green New Deal to tackle the climate crisis at its heart. It’s vital that action is taken across all portfolio areas, particularly on transport and agriculture, two areas where emissions have grown in recent years.” 

Earlier, the CCC had given evidence to Holyrood’s climate change committee. Chief executive Chris Stark said: “This about much more than a target. It is not credible to have a net-zero target unless there is policy to match, and at the moment we don't have that policy.” 

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