Greens urge Nicola Sturgeon to legislate for ‘climate emergency’

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Legislation being brought forward at Holyrood to help tackle climate change needs to be upgraded to a “Climate Emergency Bill”, Scottish Greens said.

The party is calling on SNP ministers to strengthen the provisions in its Climate Change (Emissions Reductions targets) (Scotland) (Bill).

Green co-convener Patrick Harvie speaking during FMQs.

Green co-convener Patrick Harvie speaking during FMQs.

Green co-convener Patrick Harvie made the plea after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon returned from international climate change talks in Poland.

His party is calling for the legislation to include a target for Scotland to reach “net zero” emissions by 2040, compared to government proposals to cut emissions by at least 90% by 2050.

Greens also want an interim target to cut emissions by 77% by 2030 and for a ten-point plan setting out various changes to be produced within a year.

These could include increased funding for walking and cycling, more reliable and cheaper public transport and a new tax on single use plastics.

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Mr Harvie said: “Climate experts are united in saying that we must deliver massive emissions reductions over the next decade or we face climate breakdown.

“There is still time, but we need the Scottish Government to act now to strengthen its Climate Bill, recognising this is a national and global emergency.

“Committing to a timescale for zero emissions can spur new ideas to go beyond what’s currently thought possible. Our climate crisis demands visionary leadership and the Greens are determined to lead the way.

“It will also be good for Scotland - creating green jobs, delivering cleaner air and warmer homes, and protecting and restoring our world-renowned natural heritage.”

He added: “I welcome the First Minister’s participation in the UN climate talks, and her pledge to step up efforts.

“Now she is back, she needs to put these words into action, starting with transforming the proposed Climate Bill into a Climate Emergency Bill that would maintain Scotland’s position as a global climate leader.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Our Climate Change Bill means that Scotland will have the toughest climate legislation in the world, including the most ambitious statutory targets of any country for 2020, 2030 and 2040.

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“The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said last month that the world needs to be carbon-neutral by 2050, which is exactly what the targets in the Bill mean for Scotland.

“Our targets are based on the independent, expert advice of our statutory advisor, the UK Committee on Climate Change, who have described our 2050 target as ‘the very limit of feasibility’.

“We have been clear that we want to go further and achieve net-zero for all greenhouse gases as soon as this can be done credibly and responsibly.”