SNP 'actively considering' using legislation to potentially water down climate targets

The Scottish Government could use legislation to water down its legal climate targets.
SNP Net Zero and Energy Secretary Mairi McAllan  (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)SNP Net Zero and Energy Secretary Mairi McAllan  (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
SNP Net Zero and Energy Secretary Mairi McAllan (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Scotland’s Net Zero Secretary is “actively considering” using Holyrood legislation to potentially water down the country’s legal climate targets.

The suggestion from Mairi McAllan comes after the Scottish Government’s statutory advisers, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), warned that a legal pledge to cut 75 per cent of harmful emissions by 2030 is no longer possible.

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The warning, issued in the CCC’s annual report to the Scottish Parliament, comes after Scotland has failed to hit eight out of its last 12 annual emissions targets.

The CCC’s chief executive, Chris Stark, told The Scotsman that “we're in a situation where the target isn’t credible”, adding that “there is no plan to hit it”.

Ms McAllan has now told MSPs that she is looking at a range of options about how to formally respond to the CCC’s findings, including potentially using legislation to weaken the legally-binding targets.

Speaking in Holyrood, she said: “We will carefully consider the report’s recommendations and indeed, we are already actively considering the government’s next steps.

“I can assure the chamber that all options, including legislative action, are part of active consideration by the government in how to respond.”

But Mr Stark, the former director of energy and climate change at the Scottish Government, who led the CCC’s report, has warned that altering the Climate Change Act is not a simple task. He told The Scotsman that “loosening the targets is actually really challenging under the Climate Change Act”, deliberately “to bind, not the government of the day, but future governments continuing into the future to keep them on the path”.

Mr Stark also suggested that the Scottish Government’s delayed climate change plan, which was initially promised to be published by November last year, could be being held up due to making the numbers work around the 2030 target.

Conservative MSP Maurice Golden, called for Ms McAllan to “commit to introducing a climate change plan before the mandatory deadline of November this year”.

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In response, Ms McAllan said: “I won’t commit to doing that.”

Mr Golden said: “said: “It’s clear that the SNP Government were chasing headlines rather than environmental results when they set their unachievable climate targets. Having failed to meet eight out of 12 emissions targets and been called out by the Climate Change Committee over their 2030 one, no one will fall for their desperate spin again.

“But it comes as no surprise they can’t meet their 2030 target when, as the CCC point out, no strategy was put in place to deliver it, and ministers have delayed their next climate change plan. The SNP-Greens must be honest with the public and admit that they cannot meet their climate targets, as well as setting out a realistic plan for a just transition to net zero.”

Scottish Labour climate spokesperson, Sarah Boyack, warned that the lack of progress has meant the Scottish Government has “lost its position as a climate leader”.

But Ms McAllan insisted that her government is “utterly committed to tackling climate change”.

She added: “No government facing the magnitude of the climate emergency should ever say that they’re doing enough. You will not hear that from me, not least until we are at net zero.”



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