FMQs: Sturgeon under fire over climate change record

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at FMQs. Picture: HeMedia
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at FMQs. Picture: HeMedia
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Nicola Sturgeon today faced claims of “hypocrisy” over her record on climate change ahead of an appearance at keynote global talks in Paris next week.

Labour today said that the Scottish Government has never met its “world leading” targets in tackling global warming since these were published in 2009.

Ms Sturgeon insisted that there has been a reduction in carbon emissions at First Ministers Questions today, but said the failure to meet targets was down to “baseline changes.”

In 2013, Scottish emissions of greenhouse gases was estimated to be 53.0 million tonnes, official figures have shown. This is 5 million tonnes above the official target. Labour says this includes missed targets from the activities of the SNP government, including increased use of cars and taxis.

Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: “When the First Minister tells the international community she has the most ambitious targets in the world, will she remember to tell them that she hasn’t hit those targets once?”

Ms Dugdale added: “We all have a duty to reduce emissions and leave this planet a better place than we found it.

“The SNP government have four years of missed targets; they are unable to control their own emissions and are planning to abolish a key environmental tax.

“The Prime Minister’s posturing in Paris on climate change was sheer hypocrisy – but the First Minister is giving him a run for his money.”

The Scottish Labour leader also said that the SNP’s headline tax policy – abolishing air passenger duty - would increase emissions by 50,000 tonnes a year.

Ms Sturgeon insisted that when the target for 2013 was set, ministers anticipated a reduction in carbon emissions of 31.7% would be needed to meet them - and 38.4% was achieved.

“The only reason why we still haven’t met the target was because of the increases to that baseline,” she added.

She said the targets were only missed because of “improvements to the way the data is calculated.”

“We’ve actually exceeded the reduction that we anticipated but because of the increase in the baseline that means that we haven’t met the target.”

But she added: “We should celebrate the progress we’re making in Scotland and use that to encourage others to make similar progress.”