Scottish committee calls for clearer plan to meet climate targets

Greater clarity is needed on how Scotland can meet international climate change targets, according to a new report from the Scottish Parliament.

A photograph of Earth taken from space at night
A photograph of Earth taken from space at night

The report, from Holyrood’s cross-party Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, considers Scotland’s forthcoming Climate Change Bill, which has been amended to take account of the latest recommendations from independent advisers.

The bill sets out a 2045 target to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, after the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) last month concluded the goal was credible.

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Interim emissions reduction goals for 2030 and 2040 have also been raised to 70 per cent and 90 per cent respectively.

The Holyrood report praises the Scottish Government’s “quick and positive” response in setting the new targets, which will be the most ambitious of any nation.

The move came shortly after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared a “climate emergency” and promised Scotland would “live up to our responsibility to tackle it”.

The committee believes raising Scotland’s climate change ambitions opens up new potential for jobs and the economy but is calling for clear plans to be set out for all sectors in order to hit targets.

A focus on innovation and behavioural change is also raised in the report, with the committee highlighting the need for well-defined ways to make the changes needed.

Committee convener Gillian Martin said: “The climate emergency is real and the stark fact is that we have to take urgent action in the short term in order to address global warming.

“Our committee welcomes the Scottish Government’s swift response to the CCC’s report and the commitment that Scotland will play its part in tackling it.

“While the targets are challenging, we need to focus on the opportunities and benefits of early action and we need to support those most impacted in making the transition.

“This is why we have called for a higher level of ambition across all sectors and for clearer plans to be put in place for every sector so we ensure that our generation can address the catastrophic harm being done to our natural environment.”

The report has been published ahead of the committee’s consideration of stage two of the Climate Change Bill.

A few hours later activists from environmental protest group Extinction Rebellion Scotland interrupted Portfolio Questions in the parliament to criticise the bill, accusing ministers of declaring a climate emergency “in word only, but are still kicking the can down the road”.