Section 4 — Setting annual targets

Climate Change (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 10:15 am on 24th June 2009.

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Amendment 18 moved—[Stewart Stevenson].

Photo of Alasdair Morgan Alasdair Morgan Scottish National Party

The question is, that amendment 18 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 6

For: Adam, Brian, Aitken, Bill, Allan, Alasdair, Brocklebank, Ted, Brown, Gavin, Brown, Keith, Brown, Robert, Brownlee, Derek, Campbell, Aileen, Carlaw, Jackson, Coffey, Willie, Constance, Angela, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Don, Nigel, Doris, Bob, Ewing, Fergus, Fabiani, Linda, Finnie, Ross, FitzPatrick, Joe, Fraser, Murdo, Gibson, Kenneth, Gibson, Rob, Goldie, Annabel, Grahame, Christine, Harper, Robin, Harvie, Christopher, Harvie, Patrick, Hepburn, Jamie, Hume, Jim, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Adam, Johnstone, Alex, Kidd, Bill, Lamont, John, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Kenny, Marwick, Tricia, Mather, Jim, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Stewart, McArthur, Liam, McGrigor, Jamie, McInnes, Alison, McKee, Ian, McKelvie, Christina, McLaughlin, Anne, McLetchie, David, McMillan, Stuart, Milne, Nanette, Mitchell, Margaret, Munro, John Farquhar, Neil, Alex, O'Donnell, Hugh, Paterson, Gil, Pringle, Mike, Purvis, Jeremy, Robison, Shona, Rumbles, Mike, Salmond, Alex, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Scott, Tavish, Smith, Elizabeth, Smith, Iain, Smith, Margaret, Somerville, Shirley-Anne, Stephen, Nicol, Stevenson, Stewart, Stone, Jamie, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinney, John, Thompson, Dave, Tolson, Jim, Watt, Maureen, Welsh, Andrew, White, Sandra, Wilson, Bill, Wilson, John
Against: Alexander, Ms Wendy, Baillie, Jackie, Baker, Claire, Baker, Richard, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Butler, Bill, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Margaret, Eadie, Helen, Ferguson, Patricia, Foulkes, George, Gillon, Karen, Glen, Marlyn, Gordon, Charlie, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Henry, Hugh, Jamieson, Cathy, Kelly, James, Kerr, Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Ken, Martin, Paul, McAveety, Mr Frank, McConnell, Jack, McMahon, Michael, McNeil, Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Mulligan, Mary, Oldfather, Irene, Park, John, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Stewart, David, Whitefield, Karen, Whitton, David

Photo of Alasdair Morgan Alasdair Morgan Scottish National Party

The result of the division is: For 79, Against 43, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 18 agreed to.

Photo of Alasdair Morgan Alasdair Morgan Scottish National Party

Group 4 is on setting annual targets—criteria. Amendment 102, in the name of Shirley-Anne Somerville, is grouped with amendments 103 to 105 and 116.

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

During the passage of the bill, we have heard a lot about the need to take early action to tackle climate change. We have already taken such action by agreeing to certain amendments this morning. However, we must also consider the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions that we will produce between now and 2050.

I very much welcomed the amendment that was lodged by Cathy Peattie at stage 2 to place a duty on ministers to report on cumulative emissions. As a result, the bill contained—for the first time—a duty on cumulative emissions. The amendment picked up on a great deal of evidence that the committee heard on the need to take cumulative emissions into account.

I am keen for the bill to be even more ambitious, and I want to build on Cathy Peattie's good work. That is why I have lodged amendments 102, 105 and 116, which will oblige the Scottish ministers to request and consider advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change on what the cumulative amount of net Scottish emissions should be for Scotland for the duration of the effect of the bill. Scottish ministers should be obliged to request such information each time they set annual targets, so that we can obtain advice at the earliest opportunity.

Of course, it will not be enough simply to request advice; ministers will have to act on it. The amendments cover that point too. Once available, that information will prove to be a significant factor in determining the level of future annual targets, and will focus the minds of future Administrations on their obligations for the years right up until 2050.

The amendments in the name of Alison McInnes are along the same lines and, indeed, take us a step further. They are a welcome addition to the amendments in my name, and I urge the chamber to support them as well.

I move amendment 102.

Photo of Alison McInnes Alison McInnes Liberal Democrat

I will support the amendments in the name of Shirley-Anne Somerville. They are a good start, but I hope that the chamber will also agree to amendments 103 and 104, in my name, which further define and enhance the role that a cumulative emissions budget would play.

I reassure the chamber that the amendments are not overly prescriptive. They do not set an arbitrary budget. They call for the best scientific evidence that is available to direct the Government with regard to what an appropriate total would be. Already this morning, there has been much emphasis on the idea of using the best scientific evidence that is available. In doing so, we will strengthen the fundamental target-setting role of the bill and move from a basis of doing what we know that we can do to doing what we need to do.

Unfortunately, because of the way in which the groupings of amendments have worked out, I feel as though I am repeating myself when I address the chamber this morning. However, as I have already said, when we set targets, it is impossible to examine the interim target, the annual targets and the cumulative targets in isolation; they are all, ultimately, stepping stones and tools along the course to the 80 per cent target—we cannot have one without the others. That is especially the case when we consider the question of cumulative emissions. I cannot emphasise enough that, for the bill to be truly effective, we cannot be totally reliant on point-in-time targets; we must ensure that we know how much damaging greenhouse gas it is safe for Scotland to emit. We already know the critical concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases beyond which there will necessarily be significant and damaging climate change events. We also know how much more emissions there can be in total before we reach that figure, which means that we can calculate a fair share for Scotland. I welcome the fact that Shirley-Anne Somerville has come to that view as well.

I cannot put it more simply than this: if we do not calculate an overall emissions budget based entirely on science and not on the addition of point-in-time targets, we simply cannot know whether those targets are right and we cannot know whether our annual targets will have the desired impact.

Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party

The amendments in the names of Shirley-Anne Somerville and Alison McInnes are concerned with Scotland's cumulative emissions over the period from 2010 to 2050. I recognise the widespread desire for the bill to acknowledge the issue of Scotland's cumulative emissions. I believe that the amendments in the name of Shirley-Anne Somerville provide a way for cumulative emissions to be incorporated in the bill in a way that is sufficiently flexible not to interfere with the emissions reduction trajectory that will be published in line with the batches of annual targets that ministers must set. I am therefore content to accept amendments 102, 105 and 116.

We have considered the amendments in the name of Alison McInnes. Although, from a technical point of view, we would have preferred some aspects of the amendments to be drafted differently—there might be some small practical difficulties with them—they basically express policy positions that we wish to pursue, so we are happy to commend them to the chamber as well.

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

This is an important section. It ensures that we approach our early action with an eye to 2050 in a way that ensures that we do not emit more than our fair share in the years to come. As Alison McInnes has said, the section ties the two parts of our efforts together. It ensures that, when we set our annual targets, we focus on our cumulative and total emissions up to 2050. I urge the chamber to support all the amendments in the group.

Amendment 102 agreed to.

[Amendments 103 and 104 moved—[Alison McInnes]—and agreed to.]