Climate Change

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:25 pm on 28th May 2008.

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Photo of Cathy Peattie Cathy Peattie Labour 4:25 pm, 28th May 2008

I was listening to the radio recently, and it was clear that quite a few people still prefer to bury their heads in the sand when it comes to the personal implications of climate change—the doubting Thomases, prepared to seize on any suggestion that climate change does not exist. At the other end of the spectrum are the prophets of doom, arguing that what we are doing is too little, too late. Sadly, there is some truth in that, but it would be a bigger disaster if that dented our determination to tackle the problems that face us. We cannot avert climate change, but there are significant actions that can minimise its extent and impact. Internationally, we must pursue contraction and convergence as an equitable solution to tackling climate change.

As part of that strategy, there is much that can be done in Scotland. We need ambitious targets, and we need to stick to those targets and not leave them to one side when the going gets difficult. If we promise a 3 per cent annual reduction in emissions, we should deliver a 3 per cent annual reduction in emissions. We can and should extend microgeneration to schools and other public buildings and remove the barriers that are holding back microgeneration and energy efficiency measures in the home.

The Government's consultation on its climate change bill has recently ended. I have no doubt that many worthwhile proposals will have been submitted by a wide range of organisations. Within my local communities, there is support for measures to support the reduction of emissions through reform of planning and building standards to facilitate energy conservation and renewable generation. Incentives could be incorporated into local taxation. I am sure that much can be done in areas such as food production and distribution and by promoting local sourcing and reducing food miles.

Scotland has enormous expertise and natural resources that make us supremely well placed to be a world leader in renewable energy. As we have heard, just this week we took a significant step forward, with our first tidal device, in Orkney, which will supply electricity to the national grid. Increasing support for our renewable energy industry would be good for the environment and for jobs. We must ensure that developers operate not just to minimal standards but aspire and adhere to higher environmental standards, incorporating microgeneration technologies as standard.

We must make it easier for people to upgrade their homes with small-scale microrenewables such as wind turbines and solar panels, and we must provide grants for doing so. Where possible, combined heat and power schemes should be incorporated into developments. We need to be able to monitor our progress reliably and demonstrate that we are making the progress we desire in reducing emissions year on year.

We can do more to reduce waste and increase recycling. We can do more to reduce congestion and unnecessary travelling, through the use of new technology, flexible working and better use of public transport. We can do more in the Parliament and collectively as a nation. The climate change bill is an opportunity to make it easier to do more to address the challenge of climate change. I will do my utmost to ensure that the bill rises to that challenge.