Climate change: Scotland must make the eradication of fossil fuel use a priority in radical plan to tackle this emergency – Scotland’s Climate Assembly

We, the members of Scotland’s Climate Assembly in our report to Parliament, present a call to action to the nation for change to tackle the climate emergency in an effective and fair way.

Scotland's Climate Assembly believes we should maximise use of renewable sources of energy instead of fossil fuels (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Scotland's Climate Assembly believes we should maximise use of renewable sources of energy instead of fossil fuels (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The climate emergency is a real and urgent issue that cannot be ignored.

It requires immediate action at all levels of society. If we fail to act now, we will fail our current and future generations, in Scotland and across the world.

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We believe that urgent cultural change is needed across society – from governments, businesses, communities and individuals.

As a nation we have the opportunity to be pioneers, by taking immediate action to empower our next generations to lead sustainable lives by setting up the framework now.

We will need to be ambitious, united and driven to succeed in fulfilling Scotland's potential to reduce carbon emissions.

As a society we will need to change and adapt to meet the challenges, and recognise that there will be costs. But failure to act now will mean greater expense, and more difficult changes in the future, in order to avoid catastrophic costs to the planet.

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We believe there is a fundamental need to focus the country's collective mindset on the climate emergency and the requirement for immediate action.

Climate change affects every one of us, and no one should evade responsibility. The entire population of Scotland has the right to accurate, up-to-date and accessible information to develop a clear understanding of the reality of the climate emergency.

Good quality information and knowledge about the urgency required, and things that need to be done, will empower people to take action themselves and drive collective and systemic action across Scottish society.

Decisive leadership and strong, impartial, cross-party collaboration and accountability is required urgently.

Politicians and policy makers must have the courage to act now to bring emissions down to net zero, drawing on the science and evidence to drive rapid and fundamental behaviour change across society – and the pandemic has shown this is possible.

The climate emergency is a global problem. We have to consider Scotland’s contribution to carbon emissions and take responsibility for our global share – starting now.

Scotland needs to invest in the development of sustainable, future-proofed infrastructure across the country – including integrated private and public transport systems, high-speed broadband and the electricity network – if we are to achieve our decarbonisation goals.

We believe Scotland has the opportunity to be a world leader in a second green industrial revolution, and we should lead by example – investing substantially in research, development and the early adoption of existing and innovative green technologies, for example energy storage and carbon sequestration methods.

Hosting the United Nations’ Cop-26 climate summit gives us an opportunity to lead by example and demonstrate we are taking urgent action to implement changes that will effectively reduce carbon emissions.

We all need to take personal and collective responsibility to change how our society operates to reduce our carbon emissions.

Eradicating the use of fossil fuels is a priority. We believe that everyone has a part to play in achieving this by minimising the amount of energy we use and maximising the use of renewables.

We all need to take responsibility for reducing the carbon footprint caused by consumption (eating less meat and dairy; buying fewer new goods; reuse and repair) and become a critical mass of people transforming these changed behaviours into the new normal.

We know that there is not a uniform solution to tackling the climate emergency across Scotland.

We want to empower local communities to be able to collaborate and drive changes – around infrastructure, service provision, land use and the economy – in ways that will work in their place and facilitate localised living.

Scotland should also develop a holistic approach to evaluating success and change.

This should include people’s well-being, the quality of natural habitats and the environment, and considerations of fairness, as well as carbon emission reductions.

We want to measure Scotland's success by the health and well-being of its people and environment as well as gross domestic product (GDP). This will require a radical shift by business and government to measure sustainability and happiness, not just profit, when considering Scotland’s wealth.

Scotland’s Climate Assembly has agreed ambitious and clear goals to tackle the climate emergency in effective and fair ways.

We recognise that our proposals establish short, medium and long-term targets for change, each with their own challenges. All of these goals and recommendations together will be positive and important steps on the route to a sustainable future.

We all – governments, businesses, communities and individuals – have the responsibility to implement change and achieve the goals we have outlined, while ensuring that no one is left behind.

We call on the Scottish Parliament to start NOW, by acting urgently and decisively to establish an agreed plan and measurable timescales for delivery.

The interim report of Scotland’s Climate Assembly, setting out 16 agreed goals for tackling the climate emergency in an effective and fair way will be laid in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday.

The Assembly is grounded in Scotland’s Climate Change Act (2019) and operates independently of government. It is a “mini-Scotland” with over 100 members broadly representative of the country in terms of age, gender, household income, ethnicity, geography, rurality, disability, and attitude towards climate change.

Members deliberated at seven meetings over five months and took evidence from over 100 expert speakers. It is one of the first such bodies anywhere in the world to complete its work entirely online. The Assembly’s full report with detailed recommendations will be published in May and brought before the next Scottish Parliament.

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