Climate action cannot be left until tomorrow - Scotsman leader comment

It’s vital that we have clarity on what the journey to net zero looks like and a firm timeline for action to be taken

The news today that Scottish Government’s draft climate change plan has been delayed should concern us all.

We have often made the case for moving faster on the journey to net zero. It is not only a matter of ensuring vast tracts of the planet are habitable in the decades to come: it is a matter of economic and moral leadership today.

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For all those reasons, it is vital that we have clarity on what that journey looks like, how business and households will be impacted, and a firm timeline for action to be taken. Uncertainty over future legislation, no matter how unpopular it might be, will only in turn hurt the economy.

Scotland’s net zero secretary Mairi McAllan has blamed the UK Government “reneging on its own commitments” for the delay. But this simply does not wash.

The standard SNP response – to blame Westminster for failures – has been roundly dismissed by Chris Stark, head of the UK's Climate Change Committee, who questioned why any announcement by Mr Sunak would require a delay by Holyrood.

If Scotland does have some of the “world’s most ambitious climate change targets”, as Ms McAllan says, then the sooner everyone is able to explore the impact and work out the detail of the change which will have to happen, the better.

Should policies pursued by Rishi Sunak or any Westminster government impact on the delivery of Scottish plans in the future then that, surely, can be addressed in the future. But to suggest a draft plan has been delayed because of announcements made by a prime minister who likely will not be in office in 12 months time belittles the Scottish Government’s agency in the matter.

Scottish ministers should, instead, redouble efforts to produce the draft plan so that people in Scotland can decide for themselves if we are on the right track to achieving net zero and whether they are willing to make the necessary changes and investments.

Action on climate change is just not something which can be left to think about tomorrow. By that point, it may very well be too late.



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