Climate Change

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:45 pm on 28th May 2008.

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Photo of Alison McInnes Alison McInnes Liberal Democrat 3:45 pm, 28th May 2008

A little more than a year ago, we sat in the chamber and listened as the First Minister outlined his new Government's priorities. Among some of his more questionable policies, he devoted a good deal of time to talking about the environmental challenges that we face, the need for a Scottish climate change bill and the all-encompassing nature of action against climate change. I am sure that I can speak for members of all parties when I say that we welcomed those priorities.

However, a year has passed and every day it seems more and more as if the First Minister's words were just words and nothing more. Twelve months on, and we are yet to see the much-heralded climate change bill. The minister said that it will be introduced in late 2008. I hope that it does not slip any more than that.

While we are waiting, the Government could be taking action. With every week that passes more harmful emissions are produced. Although Scotland's impact is relatively minor in global terms, we have an opportunity to take the lead in tackling climate change and to set an example to the rest of the world. At the moment, that example is continued inaction.

During the past year, the Government could have introduced positive measures designed to reduce emissions, but we have seen no concrete action on energy use and sourcing, nothing on waste production and disposal, no new guidelines on estate management and no positive moves on sustainable travel and transportation.

We cannot accuse the Government of doing nothing since it has come to power; quite the contrary. As Mr Stevenson said, it has found time to ditch its manifesto commitment to binding targets for an annual carbon reduction of 3 per cent, which is deeply disappointing to the environmental community. It has committed to a huge increase in spending on roads at the same time as delivering budget cuts to public transport. It has cut funding for sustainable travel initiatives.

Organisations such as Sustrans are facing reductions to their budgets that will result in important projects that could play a vital role in promoting sustainable travel falling by the wayside.