Why Scotland must consume less
SCOTLAND is a long way from becoming a sustainable nation, living in harmony with the environment and preserving a healthy society, according to government advisers.
The Sustainable Development Commission report found that, while pro-gress was being made in areas such as increasing the amount of electricity from renewable energy, traffic on Scotland's roads was rising steadily and seabird populations had fallen by a third between 1991 and 2004.
It also warned of problems which could lead to a breakdown in civil society, with a dramatic rises in antisocial behaviour and homelessness, and a decline in volunteering.
Professor Jan Bebbington, of the commission, said urgent action was needed to make Scotland live within its means in the big fight against climate change.
It is thought Scots consume about three times more resources than their fair share - sometimes referred to as "three-planet living" because if everyone lived as we do, it would take three earths to cope with demand.
Prof Bebbington said changing Scottish society would involve the use of new technologies but also stressed that people would have to change their behaviour. She said they might have to stop flying to far-flung holiday destinations and choose somewhere closer to home instead.
"Technology will take us some of the way but behaviour changes will have to take us some way as well," she said.
"Some of that change may mean that flying to the Bahamas twice a year for a holiday maybe isn't what we do."
And Prof Bebbington said such changes of attitude would need to happen quickly alongside the progress being made in developing renewable energy and recycling waste.
"If we have got 100 years to play with, I think we could get there. The big question is whether we have 100 years to play with," she said.
Asked what a sustainable Scotland might be like, she said there was no current example: "Most of the developed world economies aren't sustainable with high levels of flying and material consumption. There's no one country that demonstrates all the elements of being sustainable."
Maintaining social sustainability was important because a breakdown could lead to the chaos and violence as portrayed in the film Children of Men, which painted a picture of a dystopian future in the UK.
"That was an unsustainable society. What really struck me was that even inside [protected areas] the privileged ones were in a ghastly place," she said. "We have certainly seen around the world various countries that start to come apart. That's the fear if you have large inequalities; people might end up having nothing to lose."
A Scottish government spokesman said it would set "ambitious targets" to tackle climate change. "We are serious about making Scotland a more sustainable nation and will be consulting on a Scottish Climate Change Bill, including a mandatory target to achieve an 80 per cent reduction in Scottish emissions by 2050, as soon as possible," he said.
"We also currently provide funding of over 10 million per year to promote energy efficiency to the domestic, business and public sector in Scotland."
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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