FMQs: Scottish Government challenged on climate change targets

The Scottish Government has been challenged to put plans in place to meet new targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions, or the new Climate Bill would be "meaningless".

Protesters at the school pupil strike demanding government action on climate change.

In an unusual attack on the SNP government by the Scottish Greens, Alison Johntone reeled off a catalogue of targets missed by the Scottish Government, and demanded to know why there should be trust that those in the new Climate Bill, which MSPs passed last night, would be met.

At First Minister's Questions in Holyrood, the party's parliamentary co-convener said the SNP was "world-leading" in setting targets, but not meeting them, and highlighted class sizes, NHS treatment time guarantee, cancer referrals and even the current targets on emissions, asking why the targets on the climate emergency were "any different?"

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But Nicola Sturgeon rounded on Ms Johnstone, saying she "struggled to understand the Greens position", as the party had abstained on the Bill yesterday, declaring it was not ambitious enough.

She said: "I'm really proud of what this Parliament did yesterday. We set the strongest, most ambitious, most stringent climate targets of any country in the world, and the Green party sat on their hands while the rest of the Parliament did that."

The First Minister said meeting the targets would "require action from this government, businesses and individuals across the country, but Scotland has already almost halved our emissions and that should give us confidence we will meet these targets and continue to lead the world."

However Ms Johnstone said it was essential the government took action, especially as it "continues to commit billions to road expansion."

She added: "Nicola Sturgeon talks about listening to the young people who strike for climate, and about her ambitions for tackling the climate emergency, but targets are not enough. Indeed, Scotland missed its latest greenhouse gas target. Emissions from transport actually went up.

“This government needs to commit to meaningful action, starting with reinvesting the billions spent on new major roads like the A96 into an integrated public transport system."

Ms Sturgeon replied: "We've already said we'll look across all areas of government responsibility and government spend and look for good ideas and inspiration from anywhere we can find it, but most of the countries I go to and talk about climate change see Scotland as the world leader - not just in the targets we're setting, but in the action we're taking to meet those targets

The job now is for us to get on and put in place the radical policies that will meet those targets and that is work that is underway by this government."