"Scotland’s world-leading climate change legislation sets a target date for net-zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045,” proclaims the Scottish government’s website.
And an independent report by the Zero Emissions Social Housing Taskforce, published yesterday by the government, echoes this language back to the politicians, noting Scotland has “committed to a range of world-leading targets”.
Anyone reading such warm words would think we really are doing tremendously well and if only other countries were as wise, intelligent and kind as Scotland, the world would be in a much better place.
The problem is that setting targets is all very well, but it is meeting them that matters and Scotland has missed its carbon emission targets for three years in a row, according to figures release in June.
Enter the plain-speaking Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager whose lone school strikes for action on climate change sparked a global movement.
Asked if Scotland was a “world-leader” on climate change, she said “no”. While agreeing that some countries do “a bit more than certain others”, she told BBC Scotland that “there are no countries, at least in the global north, that are doing even close to what would be needed”.
Thunberg also highlighted the absurdity of the UK – the host of the United Nations’ Cop26 climate summit in November – talking about adding another oil field, Cambo off Shetland, at a time when it and the world should be urgently reducing fossil fuel production.
There is no denying it would set an appalling example to the rest of the world, in addition to the more tangible effect of reducing the price of oil by increasing its supply.
Is the UK planning to announce Cambo will go ahead just before Cop26 or will it kick the feet from under any agreement by slipping the news out a few weeks later? Will the Scottish government continue to remain silent on the central question of whether Cambo should be allowed or not?
The world is currently losing the fight against climate change. So, if nothing else, the self-declared ‘leaders’ of the struggle should refrain from patting themselves on the back quite so much and do more to make that deeply alarming fact crystal clear to all.