Climate change: Internal Scottish Government poll shows half of Scots don't think ministers are doing enough to hit net zero targets

Half of Scots do not believe the Scottish Government is doing enough to help Scotland hit its target to be ‘net zero’ on greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, an internal poll states.

It comes as a new report called on SNP/Green ministers to “ramp up” the transition to a ‘net zero’ economy and take immediate action to tackle the climate and cost-of-living crises.

The internal polling, undertaken by BMG Research for the Government, found people believed more could be done by ministers to hit net zero targets.

It also demonstrates significant misunderstandings from the public around the main contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

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Critics said the polling should be an “urgent wake-up call” for the SNP/Green Government.

The figures show 49 per cent of Scots do not believe the Scottish Government is doing enough, with 27 per cent stating they are, 8 per cent stating they are doing “more than enough” and 16 per cent saying they didn’t know.

Councils and large businesses (53 per cent and 67 per cent respectively) were the only other two sectors which were considered to be not doing enough by more people than the Government.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (centre) meets climate activists Greta Thunberg (left) and Vanessa Nakate (right) during the Cop26 summit at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow.

The polling also shows the public vastly overestimates the impact of both power stations and waste management to overall emissions, while underestimating the impact of buildings and transport.

Power stations and waste management services produce around 4 and 3 per cent respectively of Scotland’s overall annual greenhouse gas emissions.

However, people – regardless of how much knowledge of climate change they claimed to have – guessed around 17 per cent for power stations and 13 per cent for waste management.

By comparison, transport is responsible for almost a third of all emissions (29 per cent), with the public incorrectly stating it is around 18 per cent.

Buildings also produce a fifth of all emissions, but the public believe the figure is closure to 13 per cent.

Liam Kerr, the Scottish Conservative net zero spokesperson, said the SNP may talk a “good game” on climate, but the reality was the Government had “regularly missed crucial targets”.

He said: “These findings should be an urgent wake-up call for SNP-Green ministers to back up their rhetoric with much more ambitious action than they are taking right now.

“With their record of failure, it is little wonder almost half of the public feel the Scottish Government aren’t doing enough.”

Climate crisis spokesperson for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Liam McArthur, added: “Tackling the climate emergency should be one of the top items on the Scottish Government's to-do-list, but the attention of the nationalists and the not-so-Green party is, once again, on breaking up the UK.”

The Climate Emergency Response Group (CERG) has said the consequences to communities in Scotland will be devastating if urgent steps are not taken.

Extreme weather conditions recently experienced in Scotland highlight the need for ministers to double down on the response to the climate emergency, according to industry experts.

The ‘Unlocking Scotland’s response to the climate emergency’ report includes a four-step action plan, which recommends introducing a net zero test for policy and investment decisions.

Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell said his party had helped the government take “important first steps” such as free bus travel for under 22s, something he said was “in stark contrast to Westminster's focus on energy company profits and its drive for evermore drilling in the North Sea.”

He added: “This is the Greenest government Scotland has ever had, but we will never be complacent. The change we need is transformative. The scale of the challenge is huge, and no government is doing enough.”

The cost-of-living crisis shows that fossil fuels are not just terrible for the environment, they are also bad for household bills.

Next year's referendum will give us the chance to follow a different path and do even more for people and the planet. With the powers of independence we can refocus our economy and our energy policy to ensure that sustainability is at the heart of our pandemic recovery and our future.

A Government spokesperson said: “Scotland has legislated for some of the world’s most ambitious climate change targets and we will be a net zero nation by 2045. We are already more than halfway to net zero and continue to decarbonise faster than the UK average, leading the way in key delivery areas such as energy efficiency and tree planting.”

The sixth and final episode of the brand new limited series podcast, How to be an independent country: Scotland’s Choices, is out now.

It is available wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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