Government must work harder to achieve low carbon future Scots want and need

We've been rightly proud of the world leading climate legislation unanimously passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2009, but time has moved on and other countries are going even further in order to meet the targets set in the Paris Agreement.

Gina Hanrahan, Acting Head of Policy at WWF Scotland
Gina Hanrahan, Acting Head of Policy at WWF Scotland

An ambitious Climate Change Bill is a great opportunity to create jobs, improve health and reduce poverty at home, while also ensuring Scotland plays its part in helping the poorest people in the world cope with the effects of climate change.

However, the proposals the Scottish Government have put on the table fall well short of delivering the low carbon future we not only deserve, but that repeated surveys show the majority of Scots want.

That’s why we, and our friends at Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) a diverse coalition of organisations including environment, faith, international development and trade unions, are urging members of the public to get involved and to act for our future by sending a message to the First Minister that they want more ambition in areas such as homes, transport and agriculture which are failing badly to play their part in cutting our emissions.

Over a quarter of emissions come from transport, so alternatives are needed

Indeed earlier this year transport had the dubious honour of becoming Scotland’s single biggest carbon emitter. With well over a quarter of emissions coming from this sector, it’s clear people need more help to make alternative transport choices, reducing emissions, improving health and cleaning up the polluted air we breathe. That’s why we want to see a target to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. We also think everyone has the right to a warm, energy-efficient home. This would require legislation to bring all existing homes up to at least an EPC rating of ‘C’ by 2025. We know energy efficiency is one of the cheapest, greenest approaches to lowering emissions while also reducing the burden on the NHS by improving health and creating thousands of jobs across the whole country.

Agriculture, which currently accounts for over a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions, must also do its bit by better managing fertiliser use, making farming more efficient while also reducing damaging run-off into our precious rivers.

Finally, if Scotland’s to truly enjoy the benefits of a low carbon future, the Scottish Government needs to ensure all future budgets are linked to the Climate Change Plan to show how it’s investing in a cleaner, greener pathway. For this to be truly transparent the Climate Change Bill should include an independent low carbon watchdog to keep an eye on how spending is helping to make a low carbon future a reality.

It’s time for Scotland to follow the ambition of other nations such as Sweden, which recently adopted a target to be carbon neutral by 2045, and France recently announced a 2050 carbon neutral target. The new Macron government has also set out plans to end the sale of fossil fuel vehicles by 2040 and by the same year to end all French oil and gas production.

Over a quarter of emissions come from transport, so alternatives are needed

This is at least the level of change required to ensure we stay within a 1.5 degrees warming limit, which Paris commits us to.

Scotland needs to do its bit to act for our future and listen to the thousands of people calling for a stronger and more ambitious Climate Change Bill. You can take action here:

Gina Hanrahan, acting head of policy at WWF Scotland