Climate Change (Scotland) Bill

– in the Scottish Parliament at 3:30 pm on 24th June 2009.

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Photo of Alasdair Morgan Alasdair Morgan Scottish National Party 3:30 pm, 24th June 2009

The next item of business is a debate on motion S3M-4464, in the name of John Swinney, on the Climate Change (Scotland) Bill. Although we had thought that the debate would be oversubscribed, we now have more time than we had expected. Members will perhaps be able to add the odd minute to the length of time that they had intended to speak for. I call John Swinney to speak to and move the motion. Mr Swinney, you have seven minutes or thereby.

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party 3:38 pm, 24th June 2009

As I open this stage 3 debate on the Climate Change (Scotland) Bill, I want to reflect on where we have come from and on where our country will be going if the bill is supported and accepted, as I hope that it will be, at decision time.

First, however, I will take a moment to record the thanks of the Government to a variety of individuals who have contributed much to the development of the bill and to its passage through Parliament. I thank members of the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee, and the members of the other committees that were involved in the scrutiny of the bill. Their scrutiny of such a technically challenging bill has been much valued by the Government. There has been tremendous commitment by parliamentary officials and members of the Scottish Parliament as they considered the issues. I extend our thanks to the committee clerks, who have given great co-operation to my officials as the bill has progressed through Parliament.

I also record my thanks to the officials in the Government's bill team, who put in an extraordinary amount of time and commitment. Much work had to be done to ensure that the bill was technically competent and could therefore be considered by Parliament, and to ensure that the bill was supported by a body of information and evidence that allowed us to be confident that the world-leading targets in the bill could be delivered. The bill has been put together in a very short time, and a great deal of research was required. I express my warmest thanks to our officials and the parliamentary legal teams, who have worked so hard to put the bill together.

As I open the debate that will bring to a close our consideration of the bill, it would be inappropriate for me not to make special mention of the fact that the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change, Stewart Stevenson, has steered the bill through Parliament in extraordinary detail, as was demonstrated today by his handling of the debate in the chamber.

I cannot reflect on where we have come from and the achievements that have been made in the consideration of the bill without talking of the body of opinion that has existed outwith the Parliament and the way in which Parliament has engaged with it in considering the issues that are at stake.

Many of the non-governmental organisations with whom we have been familiar over the 10 short years of this Parliament have worked together under the Stop Climate Chaos banner to send to Parliament and the people of this country a coherent and co-ordinated message that we should consider and, frankly, be inspired by. As a consequence of the commitment and the contribution that has been made by the individuals in those organisations, working hand in hand with members of the public in Scotland—some of whom have come to Parliament to witness a truly historic day, and whom Stewart Stevenson and I had the pleasure of meeting at lunch time—a tremendous range of opinions and ideas has been marshalled, with the result that we can rightly and justifiably claim that the Scottish Parliament will today pass world-leading legislation on climate change that can set an example to others. That partnership between the people and Parliament has worked to an extraordinarily successful extent.

For the purposes of rule 9.11 of the standing orders, I am required at the outset to advise the Parliament that, having been informed of the purport of the Climate Change (Scotland) Bill, Her Majesty has consented to place her prerogative and interests in so far as they are affected by the bill at the disposal of the Parliament for the purposes of the bill. Members might want to reflect on that issue in conversation with Her Majesty on Friday evening.

As has been correctly expressed throughout the debate, climate change affects all the peoples of our planet. None of us in the Parliament has suggested, at any stage in our consideration of the bill, that we in Scotland have nothing to contribute to the solution to the problem. Despite the fact that we are a relatively small contributor in the grand scheme of things, in terms of emissions, we have all accepted that we have a duty to make a contribution to that process at this stage.

At 5 o'clock today, we will approve the bill, which will set an example to others and give direction to the nations of the world that will meet in Copenhagen in December to negotiate a post-Kyoto protocol climate change agreement. Those discussions will be significant in setting the pace of tackling climate change through a new global agreement to accelerate emissions reductions across our planet.

We will have made a contribution to that debate by the manner in which we, as a country, have considered the issues, with our NGOs and members of the public informing and leading debate, and Parliament considering and reflecting on what we can do to deliver on those aspirations. Without a doubt, we must now focus on the contents of the delivery plan to achieve the targets on climate change that are implicit in the bill. That plan, which was published by the Government last week, sets out the transformational measures that are required to move Scotland on to the correct pathway to a low-carbon economy that will deliver our long-term emissions reduction targets.

Those measures include massive increases in green energy; the wholesale adoption of electric vehicles that are powered by green energy; major improvements in energy efficiency and reductions in demand; and significant increases in forestry cover. They will focus our thinking and deliver on the significant commitments that we have made today to an 80 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050 and a 42 per cent reduction by 2020, subject to agreements at European Union level. Those are the directions in which the Parliament now sets off to ensure that we deliver on our commitments to achieve the targets.

We will do that in a variety of ways. We will do it by taking the adaptation and transformational measures to which I referred. We will ensure that, when we make our financial choices and set out the budget provisions—which Patrick Harvie raised a few moments ago in his amendment on the budget—we set a range of priorities throughout Government that are utterly consistent with the achievement of the objectives in the bill. The bill cannot relate to only one area of Government policy; it must relate to every area of Government policy. Crucially, the debate is not only about Government and the actions over which we have direct control; it is about motivating, enthusing, encouraging and, at times, requiring other organisations to make a contribution.

In the debate so far, the Government has set out an approach that is designed to combine all those attributes and to ensure that we lead by example, that we set a clear agenda and that we motivate and encourage others to make their contribution. During the earlier debate in which Mr Adam and Mr McNulty were involved, the role of eco-congregations and the wider question of public engagement was raised. That is central to the achievement of all our ambitions. The Government cannot do everything on its own, although it will give the greatest priority to ensuring that we are successful. Today, Parliament sets an example to the people of Scotland on what we must all do in our lives to make our contribution to tackling climate change. As we embark on the Parliament's 10th anniversary celebrations, we can be justifiably proud of the achievement that the bill enshrines.

I move,

That the Parliament agrees that the Climate Change (Scotland) Bill be passed.

Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour 3:47 pm, 24th June 2009

Almost every day, we hear reports of new scientific evidence that warns us of the potential negative impacts of unchecked climate change and, crucially, of the changes that are already taking place in our world. Climate change is no longer an issue that exclusively interests environmentalists; it has become a factor for businesses, the education system and government at every level. As was demonstrated at lunch time today, more and more of our constituents are concerned about the issue. The challenge is to move away from business as usual to a low-carbon society. Each debate on the issue that we have had in Parliament has set down a new marker on members' knowledge of and commitment to the issue. Over time, more and more members have been drawn into the debates and into the thinking that is needed to underpin the required policy development.

As John Swinney said, three committees took up the task of scrutinising the bill and engaging with the many witnesses and organisations who presented a range of evidence and views that we had to take into account. That involved a huge amount of work by members, witnesses, clerks and Scottish Government officials, all of whom should be thanked for their sterling work. In particular, we should thank the clerks and Government officials who helped us at stage 3. We are all aware that there was a lot of burning of midnight oil. Perhaps we will avoid that in the future, but it was completely necessary for the bill.

I associate myself with John Swinney's remarks about the handling of the process by his deputy minister Stewart Stevenson. I have been in charge of difficult bills and I realise that the present one was particularly difficult. I suspect that, as a minority Government, the Administration faced a new set of challenges in getting the bill through in one piece and in a way that is legislatively competent. Members can see the bits of the bill to which they contributed and, even more important, people outside the Parliament feel that they helped to construct it. As part of the democratic process, as we hit the Parliament's 10-year anniversary, that is a significant achievement. It sets the bar for future bills, as well as for implementation of this one.

Labour members have been particularly proud that the UK Government has genuinely led the way in trying to get other countries to sign up to ever more radical measures to address climate change. EU countries have been crucial in leading the way across the globe. The election of Barack Obama signalled that the United States wanted to play a much more constructive part in tackling climate change globally and trying to ensure that we do not have a humanitarian disaster and economic catastrophe—which will come if we do not avert dangerous climate change. There is a mood around the world that we want to do more. We have debated the impact on developing countries if we fail, given that even minimal rises in sea level or increases in temperature could make parts of the world simply uninhabitable.

Although we produce a relatively small part of the emissions in our world, the debates that we have had on the bill have demonstrated our desire for Scotland to play its full part not just in reducing our emissions but in participating in the wider global debate. I agree with John Swinney that our bill has been strengthened immeasurably by the process of democratic debate and discussion, which is a good thing.

I am sure that we will hear lots of warm speeches today, but the challenge is what we do next to implement the bill, particularly considering the substantial amendments to which we agreed at stage 2 and stage 3. Labour members are committed to the bill. We do not think that the devolution settlement limits us in taking groundbreaking action; we see the bill as a big opportunity to go further. Our challenge is to develop action on climate change that goes with the grain of our principles of social justice and economic fairness. That is why we were so keen to see sustainable development built into the bill.

I hope that ministers will seize the day, having voted for our interim target—and having decided to go further. I noted John Swinney's comments when he intervened on Des McNulty. I very much hope that the 42 per cent target, which he said was seen as absolutely doable if we sign up to the deal at Copenhagen, can be realised. I hope that we can also consider carefully amendment 94, which we agreed to today. It is a fallback amendment; we will absolutely go to 42 per cent if a deal is reached at Copenhagen, but our amendment provides the opportunity to look at how much further we can go than our initial advice from the Committee on Climate Change suggested, should that not happen. We have all signed up to that now, so the challenge is where we go next.

We are in a recession and we have to build our way out of it using low-carbon technologies, redesigning our public services, looking at the carbon-counting commitment that John Swinney will bring forward in next year's budget and looking at how we redesign our public services to avoid dangerous greenhouse gas emissions. The Royal Society of Edinburgh warned us that, given that we are in a recession, we should not assume that any decrease in emissions has happened as a result of the good things that we are doing in the Parliament; it might have happened because of the recession. Secondly, as we climb out of recession, there is a danger that the trends that we saw before the recession will pick up again. There is a real warning for us to look at the detail and to work harder on emission reductions.

There are many things in the bill of which Labour members in particular feel proud. They include earlier action targets; making the most of our employment opportunities and public procurement targets; looking hard at the contribution of domestic action, with clear limits on international carbon credits; duties for public bodies, which we have strengthened today; and a public engagement strategy, to which every member is signed up 110 per cent—let us see what we can do to take that further, given the emotion, energy and commitment around the bill. There were specific amendments on the land use strategy and sectoral work—on key sectors in which we have to do better, such as energy efficiency, production of energy, and transport.

The work that we have done on energy efficiency is something of which we can all be proud, although the real challenge is making it happen. We have all debated the promise, made in 2002, for the early action energy efficiency strategy. Now it is in the bill. It really must happen and we must all sign up to what comes from that.

Regulations on domestic renewables will come into force more quickly. I am delighted that we agreed to a commitment on planning, which will mean that with all new housing and buildings we will be able to seize the day by taking the opportunities that come from low-carbon buildings and technologies and looking at how we decentralise our energy networks and go for decarbonised energy.

The bill contains a huge amount that is fantastic. Every one of us is under a huge obligation. I have noticed that more members from across the parties have engaged in the debates. The challenge lies in ensuring that they remain engaged. The three committees that were involved and the colleagues who lodged stage 2 amendments must stay on track.

The Government has a key challenge of leadership. We have made a complex bill more complex—that was the clear will of Parliament. Stewart Stevenson's burden was to guide us through that. We need to consider a revised delivery plan, how the bill will work, the annual targets that we have set and the parliamentary mechanisms—the accountability mechanisms—about which I remember John Swinney was enthusiastic when he introduced the bill at stage 1.

The bill contains a lot for everyone. The Parliament needs to assert its role in holding the Government to account and to do that constructively with ministers. Labour members will not just vote to pass the bill, but commit themselves to remaining enthusiastic about it and to working hard to ensure that its implementation is delivered.

Photo of Alex Johnstone Alex Johnstone Conservative 3:56 pm, 24th June 2009

This is indeed a great day—it is always a great day when a bill completes its passage through Parliament. The bill has presented to the Government, to Parliament and to individuals in Parliament one of the biggest challenges that we have had to deal with.

I repeat the congratulations and thanks to all those who contributed to the process. I offer the most thanks to the committee clerks, some of whom worked extremely hard to assist in drafting amendments at late hours, which was above and beyond the call of duty. I am eternally grateful for that.

The nature of the bill will probably not dawn on us fully for many years. I am confident that we have produced a good piece of legislation, but its effects might not truly be felt until as late as 2050, when we will know whether we have achieved what we set out to do.

My objective during the passage of the bill has perhaps annoyed some people. Some in Parliament are keen to take up the lobbying and encouragement from a range of organisations, including our NGOs, but one of our greatest achievements in the Parliament has been managing to keep competing interests and diverse groups on side and in line with the bill's objectives. If one or two people—perhaps even those in the public gallery—are still disappointed at how I or others in the Parliament voted at stage 2 or 3, I say that that was largely to do with the fact that we must serve competing interests and keep them on board with the process. It would not have served us at all to have allowed anybody to become detached from the process. Every party—including the Conservatives—has been keen to keep the process together.

As I have said before, when I have come across people who might instinctively support my party and who have grave doubts about the nature of climate change or the requirement to deal with it, the position that I have taken has allowed me to argue the case for the bill and against such arguments, rather than find myself incapable of so doing.

As a result, we have made good progress. We made unanimous progress on a range of issues and we found common ground on the handful of issues on which we could not agree distinctly at the outset.

The process has at times been entertaining and I have enjoyed elements of it. Late in the debate on amendments this afternoon, I almost thought that Stewart Stevenson would turn into one of the Proclaimers, because he claimed that he had walked 500 miles and that he would walk—

Photo of Alex Johnstone Alex Johnstone Conservative

Okay—400 miles. I presumed that he was to be the man who walked 1,000 miles to deliver the bill.

I apologise to anyone who was involved that, unfortunately, I could not attend the lobby event today that Stop Climate Chaos Scotland organised, but I will describe an entertaining moment at an earlier event on the lawns beside the Parliament. I managed to get myself photographed beside two people in fancy dress; one was dressed as a panda and the other as an orang-utan. Amazingly—although perhaps unsurprisingly—the photograph found its way into the Holyrood magazine caption competition. It is a measure of how far the Conservative party in Scotland has come that no one entered a caption in which the words "three rare species" appeared.

There has been a great deal of debate today on the nature and specifics of the bill. It is an ambitious bill and it is world-leading legislation. However, we started out on a controversial note in deciding to support the 42 per cent target for 2020, and not the 34 per cent target. For me, that was perhaps the most difficult point of the day. I accepted the figure, as did the Conservative party, in good faith and on the information that the Government brought forward to defend its original decision. We have done the right thing, but I will have to defend the decision in the weeks and months to come. If we proceed properly and appropriately, I believe that the figures are achievable. Indeed, much of what we did following that decision will serve the purpose of taking us towards that target.

Achievability must be what the bill is about. As I said this morning, I find target setting instinctively difficult—it is not an approach that I like to take—but it is inevitable in a bill of this nature that target setting is a key provision. The figures that we agreed on during stage 3 amendments give us the opportunity to make progress against the targets.

Another significant decision that we took today was to reinforce the practical measures in the bill to deliver the change that we want. I refer in particular to green council tax discounts. The Conservatives want our power companies, councils and the Scottish Government to work together to make Scotland greener. Until now, Scotland has been losing out on green council tax rebates that, south of the border, range between £50 and £125. An estimated 1.8 million Scottish homes could benefit from such a scheme. Power companies such as British Gas already contribute to the cost in England. We think that it is not fair that Scotland should lose out. We believe that these moves will encourage more households and businesses to go greener. That would mean lower bills for the consumer and help to cut greenhouse gas emissions. I am delighted that our amendment that was agreed to today will extend the possibility of green discounts to businesses across Scotland. In addition to making Scotland greener, once again the Scottish Conservatives have been shown to be a party with creative plans on how to reduce and reform the council tax.

People will look back on today as a milestone in the process of averting climate change. I hope that the decisions that we have made today will go down as the right ones in the long term.

Photo of Alison McInnes Alison McInnes Liberal Democrat 4:03 pm, 24th June 2009

Although passing the bill has been a long process, all too often over the past few weeks it has also seemed like a hectic rush. That may be a typical experience—I do not know—as I said in the stage 1 debate, this is the first substantive bill that I have led on for our group since I was elected to the Parliament.

At this point, it is rightly traditional to pass on my thanks to those who helped me over the course of the bill. I thank whole-heartedly the committee clerks whose endless work and late nights made the complexity understandable and the process smooth. I must also thank the thousands of people who responded to the initial consultation last year and the many lobbyists who have contacted me since that time. Their thoughts, insights and arguments were an invaluable help.

Most important, I thank the hundreds of my constituents who wrote asking me to help make the bill a world beater. I say to them that I tried my hardest to strengthen the bill. Their letters, emails and telephone calls provided me with the encouragement of knowing that my position on the bill was the right one.

Another stage 3 tradition dictates that I welcome the constructive nature of the proceedings, the excellence of the bill that we are passing and the positive impact that it will have. I hope that members will forgive me for saying that I cannot be quite as fulsome in that regard as I may have wished to be. Two months ago, I told members that it was a privilege to have the opportunity to work on the bill—and it was. I also said that I wanted to be proud of the bill. I am proud of many parts of it. Parts of it will make good things happen and stand us in good stead for the future. We have agreed on the inclusion of a cumulative emissions budget, which is a huge step in ensuring that our emissions reduction targets are properly based on the science of what is needed; that will truly make a difference. After much campaigning, sectoral targets have been included. They will help to ensure that every part of Scotland's economy will play its role in reducing emissions. We have committed to including emissions from aviation and shipping in the emissions accounts from the outset. That truly sets an example for the world to follow. The Government has also adopted our proposal to introduce an iterative process for analysing, questioning and working to improve the proposals that it will put forward on policies that will, I hope, meet the targets that have been set. I will always be proud of having played a part in making those things law.

I am not, sadly, totally satisfied with everything that we will agree to today. We have all echoed the same words from the start. We have said that the bill is the most important bill that the Parliament will pass and that we must show real ambition. So far, we have heard quite a lot of self-congratulation; I fear that I am about to dampen down the celebrations a little. [Interruption.] I hear the groans.

Party lines should have been set aside in considering the bill. We should have united in pushing for far-reaching targets and worked for consensus right from the start. I have been genuinely disappointed that that has not happened. A little analysis of what we got on the journey is necessary. We got broken manifesto commitments from the Scottish National Party. We then got its ambition not to set the world an example, but to imitate what had already been done at Westminster. Finally, when the SNP was in danger of being left behind, there was a belated understanding that there was a true desire in Scotland for us to take action that will make a difference.

I am sorry that Labour prevaricated a lot. That was followed by what seemed to be a sudden rush to get in on the act. It seems that the ambition was to get headlines, not to get early action. There was a desperate late scramble to try to make up for missed opportunities at stage 2.

The word "disinterested" probably best describes the Tories' approach. There was not much sign of David Cameron's vote blue, go green delusions. I am sorry; I meant to say aspirations.

Despite the strengthening of annual targets that our agreement to introduce a cumulative budget will bring, I remain sceptical about the showpiece amendment that we agreed to earlier, which will put the interim target at 42 per cent with strings attached. I want it to stay at 42 per cent, but I fear that it might not do so much past the end of the year. Over the next six months, it is our responsibility to make the case that Scotland can achieve that target—that our emissions can be 42 per cent lower than the baseline by 2020. We must aim high.

As Sarah Boyack said, the bill is not the solution; rather, it is an opportunity for us to take the initiative and show that Scotland can lead the way. We can make it work and we can make a difference.

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party 4:08 pm, 24th June 2009

This is a definitive moment for the Scottish Parliament. This is the day on which we set Scotland on a path to create a greener, more sustainable economy for the future. The danger of climate change has taken political centre stage today and, given the number of reporting requirements in the bill, it will rightly continue to do so. Indeed, those reporting requirements will mean that the minister and the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee will see quite a lot of each other over the coming years.

Climate change is not only an environmental issue; it raises an important moral question that cuts to the heart of every political decision that we make. Should we blindly continue to support unsustainable lifestyles, regardless of their impact on the poorest people on our planet, or should we take action to create a more just and fair society, recognising our global responsibilities? The bill signals the strong intention of the Scottish Government—and, more important, that of the Scottish Parliament—to ensure that we take the latter path.

Photo of Des McNulty Des McNulty Labour

What the member says is important, but the substantive difference between Labour and the SNP is that the SNP lodged amendments to water down domestic efforts and make it easier to push our responsibilities on to the international community. We need to work together on that in a constructive way to ensure that what the member says is what we do.

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

I fully agree that we need to work together. I am therefore disappointed that a Labour amendment to give ministers power to decrease a target, rather than continuously upgrade it, was considered today for the first time. I am pleased that the amendment was agreed to as amended, which puts the matter back in the hands of the experts.

The bill, if passed, will put Scotland at the forefront of the global effort to tackle the clear and present danger of climate change. It will commit successive Scottish Governments to reducing emissions by 80 per cent over 40 years. It will also require annual targets, beginning next year, and robust annual reporting to ensure that every Scottish Government, regardless of its colour, is far more accountable for its actions.

It is not only the end point, but how we get there that is important. That is why I am very pleased that members agreed to the amendments that I moved today to ensure that cumulative emissions are taken into account. I am also pleased that another of my amendments was accepted at stage 2, to report on the emissions from consumption. The bill is believed to be the first in the world to include a measure of the effects of importing consumer goods that are produced in other countries. That measure will ensure that we are aware of Scotland's true carbon footprint and take responsibility for emissions that are produced abroad as well as those that are a result of our actions at home. I pay tribute to WWF Scotland for its assistance in drafting that amendment.

The Climate Change (Scotland) Bill as it now stands has come a long way since its promising beginnings. I welcome the tireless efforts of everyone involved, particularly the NGOs, led by the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, and the many concerned individuals who wrote or spoke to me over the past few months and at lunch time today—they kept up their lobbying right until the last minute. All that input undoubtedly helped to make the bill as strong as it can be.

All of us who have been interested in the bill realise that its passage is not the end of the process, but the beginning. Politicians, the NGOs and their members must now get out to sell the bill and, more important, the policies that are required to achieve its targets, to the Scottish public. We must remember, as other members have already said, that the bill itself does not tackle climate change. What we do with it is what counts and I am afraid that, if we take the tack that Alison McInnes has done, we will not sell the bill, will fail in the policies and will lose the people.

The bill fulfils one other important function: it shows that Scotland and its Parliament can pass world-leading legislation. For the sake of people in Scotland and, more important, further afield, let us hope that when the rest of the world meets in Copenhagen at the end of the year it is listening to the debate and examining the efforts that we have made today.

Photo of Cathy Peattie Cathy Peattie Labour 4:12 pm, 24th June 2009

There can be no doubt that the bill is one of the most important pieces of legislation that the Scottish Parliament will ever pass. Not only does it define what Scotland can do to address the challenge of climate change—reduce emissions, build a green economy and adapt to change—it contributes to global action against climate change and allows us to set an example and raise the bar for climate change legislation. We have worked hard to incorporate many strands of policy and action into the bill to ensure that we encourage the best use of technology, the best practice in our public bodies and the best development of working practices and to ensure that we promote sustainable travel for work and leisure, public participation and awareness raising.

Scotland can be proud of the bill. I thank the clerks for their hard work. They must have used candles to stay up late at night to make sense of our amendments. I congratulate all those who have campaigned and lobbied for a strong Climate Change (Scotland) Bill. The Stop Climate Chaos Coalition has been fantastic. I also thank everyone who is present at the debate, everyone who has written, everyone who is working to change the way that we live and everyone who is doing what they can to contribute to a more sustainable use of our planet.

I am proud to have played a part in the bill, but the process does not end here; it is only the beginning of a new stage in our work to address climate change. The Copenhagen protocol has been published ahead of the forthcoming climate change talks. Reducing emissions will require a transition to an economy that is based on more sustainable production and consumption and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles. That must be underpinned by a just transition for the workforce, which is central to achieving an agreement that is based on the active participation of all stakeholders. Anything else would simply repeat the mistakes of the past. Economic reconstruction should not neglect industries and communities. I hope that the United Kingdom negotiators will reflect the widespread support among trade unions and other civic organisations for a just transition clause.

Of course, it is easy to be cynical about what people are trying to do to tackle climate change. People say to me, "Well, actually, it's not a problem, so you're talking nonsense." Others choose not to think about the implication of not tackling climate change. Some people think, "Well, it's just too big, so we can do absolutely nothing." We have a real job to do to win hearts and minds in communities across Scotland and, indeed, across the world.

The idea that 2050 is too far into the future to think about is nonsense. Forty years is not a long time, looking back. This is my ruby wedding anniversary—I do not want presents or drinks. On this day, 40 years ago, I married as a teenager. I had no idea then what would happen in 2009. Indeed, apart from nuclear weapons, I was not interested in the possibility that anything might destroy our world. I might not be here in 2049, but I hope that my children and grandchildren—I am getting emotional now—will be, and I care about the world that they will inherit.

Let us pass the bill so that we can get on with the task of making this world a better place, both now and in the future.

Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green 4:16 pm, 24th June 2009

What can I say to Cathy Peattie, other than "Congratulations"?

John Swinney began his remarks by offering thanks to those who have well earned them, and it would be wrong for me to begin in any other way. I thank my fellow members of the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee as well as other members from outwith the committee who have engaged constructively throughout the process. I thank our witnesses and our colleagues in the Scottish Parliament information centre. In particular, I thank our team of clerks, who have, perhaps more than any of us, earned a fabulous summer recess after the work that they have put in.

I also thank the NGO community, especially the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition—which was misreported today as the "Save Climate Change Coalition" by a newspaper sub-editor who does not seem to get it—for the wider pressure that has been applied. That pressure has come not just from campaign groups and activists but from people in the private sector—for example, Scottish and Southern Energy's chief executive, Ian Marchant—and from others in faith organisations. Without that overwhelming pressure from outside Parliament, we would not have made the progress that has been made during the bill's passage over the past few months.

Alex Johnstone spoke of those who might have grave doubts about the nature of climate change, but another criticism that might be made, which I do not direct at any particular party, is that many people out there might have even graver doubts about the nature of party politics. Despite the progress that has been made with the bill, the victory belongs to the outside campaigners. Perhaps the degree of posturing that has taken place—on all sides—is understandable and is a natural shortcoming of party politics, but we should think carefully about how, and whether, we might avoid that in future.

Despite those shortcomings, Scotland has shown itself, in passing the bill, to be not just environmentalist but rationalist and internationalist. We have recognised our responsibility for the unequal impact of the choices that we make not only on people here at home—as Cathy Peattie argued, we need a just transition—but also on people around the world. Des McNulty was right to remind us that we could, and should, have done better in that regard.

Sarah Boyack asked where we go from here. Again, my message is primarily to the campaigners and activists. Their work will continue to be vital if we are to turn the commitments that we have made into a reality. As I said to Des McNulty earlier, the headline target in the bill—the 42 per cent interim target—is a vote delayed rather than a vote that we have taken today. Some of the language used in the climate change delivery plan, in ministerial correspondence in recent days and in speeches today makes me fear that we will end up debating which powers are reserved and which are devolved, and arguing that we need reserved powers in order to reach the 42 per cent target. That is an argument that I do not intend to try to settle in this debate, but it will be settled in Parliament. To every one of the tens of thousands of people in Scotland who have lobbied us, who have argued with us and who have pressured us to do better, I say, "Keep going," because if party politics shows itself to be wanting, we will have achieved very little by passing the bill.

Targets alone are not enough. They are necessary, but not sufficient. They will not be achieved without a radical shift in policy on transport, housing, land use, food and energy. An energy issue that has not come up in today's debate is infrastructure. Pretty much every member who gets it on climate change recognises the need, for example, for upgrades to the grid, such as the controversial Beauly to Denny transmission line. Yet where is the leadership when people raise aesthetic objections? It is clear that the renewables demanded by the delivery plan will not be connected to the grid without that kind of upgrade. As we await the result of the public local inquiry on the Beauly to Denny line, all of us who argue for radical targets in the bill should be showing leadership on that issue.

We do not yet know the detail of all of the policy shifts that will be required over the next 40 years. It is as though people in the late 1960s drafted a bill setting targets for delivery today. They could not have anticipated the social, technological and economic changes that have taken place, and nor can we anticipate all the changes that will take place, although we know that they will be more radical than any Government can imagine.

If party politics is found wanting at any stage in the coming decades, it is possible that only more radical approaches, such as those being prepared by people who are getting ready to take direct action on some of the most polluting activities—coal extraction, new coal-fired power stations and new road building—will prompt future politicians to take the radical steps that will be necessary to turn the targets in the bill from numbers on a page into reality.

Photo of Rob Gibson Rob Gibson Scottish National Party 4:23 pm, 24th June 2009

The Climate Change (Scotland) Bill is a victory for the people of Scotland and the wider world. In the many and varied ways that we have agreed through the bill process, it will curb greenhouse gases and mitigate the effects of and help us adapt to climate change.

Unlike Patrick Harvie, I believe that the political parties in the Parliament have grown in stature as the bill has developed. He could not be believed by any of us when he said on Monday:

"This week will be crucial to Scotland's future reputation, and if the SNP has to be dragged kicking and screaming to 40%, then so be it."

Such intemperate language sounds like it comes from someone who is speaking from the outside, looking in. It is those of us who are inside who took the decisions today.

Photo of Rob Gibson Rob Gibson Scottish National Party

We have heard from the member already.

The mainstream of climate change beliefs will be dealt with in the committee to which I belong and that Patrick Harvie convenes. Weekly—I suggest—for the months and years ahead, we will consider the secondary legislation to create the delivery of the ambitious climate change plans that we have agreed to today.

Some of the intemperate language was not needed, but it spurred us on to ensure that we have a stronger bill. It was due to the negotiations between the parties over the issues concerned that we have achieved the bill.

I have played my own part in helping to strengthen our adaptation rules and laws and to provide for specific Scottish scientific advice on our peat bogs and native pine woods, for example, which is part of the process of examining the impact of climate change. I am delighted that the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has helped us to work towards that possibility.

I have taken a considerable interest in ensuring that there is a firm foundation for the HEET plan—on home energy efficiency targets—which is one of the most ambitious areas of delivery. The target of reaching 11 per cent of our renewable heat needs by 2020 marks a huge leap from where we are at present, and I believe that, thanks to the work done by Scottish Renewables and others, there is now a feeling that the industry is set to invest in Scotland and take up the challenges of creating renewable heat, using machinery such as boilers, and that the sort of green jobs that should flow from our statement of commitment today will be created.

Scotland has a huge potential in this context. We can meet our needs for renewable energy from the tides, the waves and the wind. The UK targets for climate change rely on our delivering that energy, and the same applies to our commitment and contribution for Europe. The scope of the discussions that we have had today and the opportunities that we have grasped in the Parliament, mainly by a consensual approach and in debates that have by and large strengthened the bill enormously, have allowed us to deliver within a short time one of the best bills on climate change that has been passed in the world. There were doubters that we could complete the bill by the summer; those doubts have been allayed. I do not believe that the bill is "staggeringly weak"; I believe that it will be one of the best pieces of legislation that this Parliament passes.

Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour 4:27 pm, 24th June 2009

It is a privilege to speak in this debate. Like others, I am delighted that Scotland will have robust climate change legislation following today's deliberations.

Not being a member of the lead committee can make it difficult for someone with an interest in a bill to follow its progress closely. On this occasion, I am particularly indebted to my colleagues on the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee for keeping me and other members informed. I am also indebted to the many constituents of mine who have kept in touch with me along the way and who have ensured that I have known exactly what has been happening with the bill.

None of us is immune from the effects of climate change, and I am sure that we have all encountered problems in our own constituencies that have been caused wholly or in part by climate change. The bill seems to strike just about the right balance between carrot and stick measures. It will require us to continue to monitor and debate the situation as we go forward with secondary legislation. I am pleased that the bill contains such a rigorous measure of reporting.

On emissions, the bill allows us to say to those who are meeting later in the year in Copenhagen to discuss climate change that they should be ambitious, particularly as technology is changing constantly. If they are not ambitious, they will fall behind.

I was very much struck by a discussion between the minister and my colleague Sarah Boyack about how the climate change agenda feeds into so many others. I have an example of that from my constituency. Allied Vehicles constructs and makes electric cars. To me, those cars are for the future, yet they are also for today, as the company employs 300 people in construction work in an area of relatively high unemployment. The agenda is important and meets with many of our other objectives.

The Malawians call it chilala—warming earth. No matter what we call it, the effects of climate change are felt most by people in the developing world, by those who are most vulnerable and by those who are least able to recover from them. In this country, we each produce on average about 9.4 tonnes of emissions per annum. The average Malawian produces only about 0.1 tonnes per annum. Yet it is our friends in Malawi who feel the effects of our actions first and most deeply.

Those of us who have visited Malawi will have sampled chambo, the country's most popular fish dish. Because the watercourses are drying up, catches of chambo reduced from 2,000 metric tonnes in 1993 to 200 metric tonnes in 2003. At the same time, it is generally accepted that the yearly pattern of wind and rain in Malawi is changing. Most crucially, it is no longer consistent, which means that planting times cannot be synchronised with the weather. It is no wonder that Malawians think that the weather is muddled. They are right—it is.

In Yemen, where there is no permanent river system, the Government is considering moving the capital city, because it foresees that it will not be able to sustain the population's water supply in a few years' time. In Burkina Faso, rainfall has fallen to between 400mm and 500mm a year, which represents a decline of almost 20 per cent. In many other parts of the world, local communities are taking action to adapt their lives and their communities to meet the challenges of climate change. Villagers in Bangladesh are moving their buildings—they are building up the height of the local schools so that they can survive heavier rainfall and provide shelter for entire villages if homes are lost to flooding.

We must not lose sight of the fact that such activity is necessary because of our actions. I am interested to know how the Government plans to assist in that regard. In my opinion, that should not be done at the expense of other international development work. We could end up in the same situation as those countries if we are not vigilant; we must use the situation that they are in as a warning to us.

When the Parliament was created, Donald Dewar said that devolution was not an event but a means to an end, and that end was social justice. For that reason, because climate change is a social justice issue, I am delighted to support the bill.

Photo of Malcolm Chisholm Malcolm Chisholm Labour 4:32 pm, 24th June 2009

I am sure that, when they got up this morning, many of the people who have been involved with the bill for several months—if not, in some cases, years—were tempted to think that it was the beginning of the end, but of course we all know that it is merely the end of the beginning. Recognition of that fact is more crucial to our work on climate change than it is to our work on any other issue that faces us. Tomorrow we must recommit ourselves to delivering on the targets that we have included in the bill during today's historic proceedings, but perhaps for one evening we can take some satisfaction from delivering what is certainly the most important bill of the parliamentary session.

Like others, I want to thank a number of people. I thank my constituents, hundreds of whom have shown how important an issue climate change is to them by writing to or contacting me about the bill. I also thank the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, whose members have not only serviced the cross-party group in the Scottish Parliament on climate change—of which Shirley-Anne Somerville and I are co-conveners—but more importantly driven many of the developments in the bill through their energetic and unceasing engagement with MSPs on the big issues that we have discussed today. I know that they are slightly disappointed that some of the amendments that they supported have not been agreed to, but I am sure that they will take some satisfaction from the fact that, in many ways, the bill is stronger as a result of their efforts.

We must also give credit to two other extremely important groups. Credit is due to the Government, which we should remember was the first Government in the world to go for an 80 per cent target, which was the ideal starting point for debates on the bill. In addition—without being too self-congratulatory—we must give credit to the Parliament. It is invidious to mention too many people, but I would like to single out Des McNulty, who managed to get the domestic effort target into the bill. When it was first introduced, the bill did not contain such a target. We should also thank many people for the development of the interim target, including Sarah Boyack, who lodged an amendment on the subject. Clearly, individuals in other parties, too, were instrumental in bringing about those developments.

The big debates today have been around domestic effort and the interim target. It struck me during the debate and previously that both targets are heavily influenced by emissions trading and that debates on both have been heavily influenced by our understanding of that trading. It was slightly disappointing that there was not more about that crucial issue in the documents that accompany the bill. Perhaps we still have to address that deficiency, because debate on the interim target will clearly continue.

The headline today is that we are united on the 42 per cent interim target—and we should take some satisfaction from that—but the focus tomorrow will be on delivery. We know from the delivery plan that reductions of 36 to 37 per cent are in train, but we must look for more because the point of a target is to stretch and change behaviour. I have just looked at the crucial table in the climate change delivery plan that shows what the targets will mean sector by sector. It struck me that the difference between 34 per cent and 42 per cent in the heat sector is the difference between a reduction of 42 per cent and one of 46 per cent by 2020, which is not an enormous or unachievable difference. In transport, the table shows that the difference is between 24 per cent and 33 per cent, which is a bigger difference but, again, not unachievable.

Somebody at a lobby in Parliament today said to me that he welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change of the target of 10 per cent of all journeys to be made by bicycle by 2020 but that it had not been included in the delivery plan. Perhaps the minister can comment on that. We can do more, which is the message that we need to focus on in the weeks and months ahead.

I am delighted, as I think is everyone in the Parliament, about the amendment on public engagement—amendment 86—being passed. The Government and Parliament alone cannot achieve what the bill seeks, although we must continue to show leadership. Communities and individuals throughout Scotland will do the work in partnership with us. Let us therefore go forward together across the party divides and in partnership with the people.

Photo of Liam McArthur Liam McArthur Liberal Democrat 4:37 pm, 24th June 2009

I raise a glass of bubbly in honour of Cathy Peattie's ruby anniversary—well done.

At times like these, there is a risk that we lapse into hyperbole in a bid to capture the significance of the task that we are undertaking. Nevertheless, I believe that, in the challenge that we face in addressing climate change and bringing into a more sustainable balance the use to which we put the world's resources, it is difficult to overstate the bill's importance and what we seek to achieve through the measures that we are putting in place.

I warmly congratulate Stewart Stevenson on how he has piloted this signature bill through Parliament. I acknowledge the remarks by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth about the bill's scale and complexity. As I highlighted earlier today, difficulties arose because of the pace with which we elected to consider the bill but, given the imperative for radical early action, that approach was entirely justified.

The speed of the bill's passage perhaps caught some members by surprise. After what I thought was an entertaining contribution to the debate this afternoon, we clearly could have benefited from hearing more from Alex Johnstone. Sadly, his monastic silence for long periods contrasted with the example of Shirley-Anne Somerville and Rob Gibson, who seemed more seized of the need to improve and strengthen their own Government's bill.

The bill has been improved and strengthened in many important areas. Like Alison McInnes, I am proud of the role that Liberal Democrats have played in that, but I fully acknowledge that it has very much been a cross-party endeavour, including Alex Johnstone, but one that drew heavily on the expertise of external campaigning organisations and, indeed, the prompting of our constituents. Many members have rightly pointed to the importance of the public's engagement with the debate that we have had. Parliamentary and committee staff, too, rose superbly to the challenge.

At the risk of eliciting groans from the cabinet secretary, I remain concerned that the bill remains a missed opportunity.

Photo of Liam McArthur Liam McArthur Liberal Democrat

There we go—no disappointment there.

For all the rhetoric about the bill being world leading, it can still be found wanting in a number of key respects. The lack of scientifically credible interim annual and sectoral targets means that, while the bill will make some improvements to the current situation, it ultimately risks falling short of fulfilling its potential. The Government is correct to set the target of 80 per cent for 2050—I acknowledge the comments that Malcolm Chisholm made in that regard—even though it is difficult to sustain the assertion that the target is now world leading, because it mirrors the figure set at UK level.

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

Liam McArthur is in danger of being contaminated by the Liberal Democrats' doom and gloom. Perhaps if he casts his mind back he will remember that this Government's proposal for an 80 per cent emissions reduction target was ridiculed by some. Now the UK Government has increased its own target to match an ambition that this Administration has had from day one.

Photo of Liam McArthur Liam McArthur Liberal Democrat

I certainly echo Malcolm Chisholm's sentiments, who conceded that very point in a non-partisan way, but the cabinet secretary's comments illustrate the point that setting a simple 42 per cent target would provide a more unambiguous benchmark than what has been agreed today.

During the stage 1 debate, I welcomed ministers' announcement that they were bringing forward the date of the interim target from 2030 to 2020. Stewart Stevenson triumphantly flourished the rabbit that he had just produced from his top hat, but the suspicion remained that all was not what it seemed. So it transpired: although the new interim date was ambitious, the emissions reduction target of 34 per cent was not.

Since that debate, there has been ample opportunity to put some backbone into the bill. For example, the Liberal Democrats have made strenuous efforts to get Parliament to commit to a scientifically credible interim target of 42 per cent. Unfortunately, the Government, supported by both Labour and the Tories, opposed such a move; indeed, in an attempt to outmanoeuvre the Government, Labour simply succeeded in priming the trapdoor through which ministers have gleefully escaped.

In his letter to all party leaders, Scottish and Southern Energy chief executive Ian Marchant said:

"If the 2050 target is 80% cut from the 1990 baseline, then by the halfway point, 2020, the cuts must be more than half way. That means at least 40% with no ifs or buts or politically-motivated caveats".

He went on to add:

"With its rich natural resources, Scotland shouldn't just be waiting for the pack, but leading it."

Ambition has also been lacking in year-on-year targets, with the explicit commitment in the SNP manifesto dumped. The Stop Climate Chaos Coalition has urged the First Minister to honour his commitment to a 3 per cent annual target, while the World Development Movement criticised the decision not to do so as "incredibly disappointing".

Such shortcomings are not insignificant, but the bill will still achieve much if we can ensure that it is implemented effectively. For example, it will lead to real improvements in the energy efficiency of domestic and non-domestic buildings and put in place important provisions on local and business tax incentives and permitted development rights. I am proud of the role that I have played in these areas and put on record my thanks to the Association for the Conservation of Energy, Friends of the Earth Scotland and the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition. Finally, I should add that the provisions on cumulative emissions in the bill have been greatly improved by the amendments that have been agreed to, due in no small part to my colleague Alison McInnes.

This is a signature bill for the Parliament; it is the most important that it will pass in this session—and perhaps the most important that it has passed so far. It falls short of what it might have been, but it will nevertheless have a significant impact in helping Scotland to play its part in tackling the challenge of climate change not just for us but, as Patricia Ferguson has rightly said, for the many people in developing countries who will bear the brunt of climate change in the first instance. In passing, I note that, according to recent evidence, my own constituency might be in the front line in this country.

I thank everyone who has contributed to the scrutiny process and, again, I congratulate the minister on securing the bill's successful passage. Notwithstanding our reservations, I commit the Liberal Democrats to ensuring that the legislation delivers in the weeks, months and years ahead.

Photo of Nanette Milne Nanette Milne Conservative 4:43 pm, 24th June 2009

Today's long and well-fought battle will, at decision time, result in the passing of an extremely important piece of legislation that, following on from the UK Climate Change Act 2008, should ensure that our small island punches well above its weight in the battle against the global warming that threatens our planet's future, and should set an example for others to follow.

We face an unprecedented environmental challenge and, although we in Scotland might get off relatively lightly, other countries, particularly in the poorest and most heavily populated parts of the world, face devastation unless we can achieve a significant and early reduction in the volume of greenhouse gases emitted from our terrestrial activities.

I have not been involved in the bill's committee stages, so as an onlooker I feel well placed to acknowledge and pay tribute to the very hard work of the many people inside and outwith the Parliament who in a relatively short time have put in a tremendous amount of effort to ensure that the Climate Change (Scotland) Bill is as robust as possible, with challenging targets and duties placed on ministers and others to ensure that every effort is put into achieving them.

It is a complex and technical bill, and it has been dealt with with commendable thoroughness and competence by all concerned. However, although I fully understand the need to have the legislation in place as early as possible, to my mind three weeks was not long enough for stages 2 and 3 of such a complex and far-reaching bill. The flurry of stage 3 amendments at the last minute made the final stages of the parliamentary process considerably more stressful for members and staff than they might have been.

The stakes are high and the challenges are awesome. If they are to be met, all of us, in every community, institution and business and in our homes, will have to make a determined effort to reduce our individual contributions to atmospheric pollution by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. John Swinney and Brian Adam were right to highlight the need for public engagement in the delivery of the bill's objectives, and I am glad that the Parliament has acknowledged that.

I am sure that significant efforts will be made in Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom to meet the targets that are set for us, but I worry about some of the bigger players in the world whose impact on climate change is on a much bigger scale than ours but whose efforts to offset it are smaller. At least we are setting an example and beginning to move in the right direction.

Much of the focus in recent days has been on part 1 of the bill and the emissions reduction targets within it. We have been happy all along to support the target to reduce emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 and the recently amended interim target of 42 per cent by 2020. That is an ambitious target but, as Scottish and Southern Energy stated in its stage 3 briefing to us, it demonstrates the leadership to which Scotland rightly aspires. It should deliver greater competitive advantage for investment and economic opportunities in a low-carbon economy, with the jobs that that will create. It should also help Scotland to lead the way in securing the necessary policy actions elsewhere in the UK and the European Union.

With ambitious targets in place, it is clear that progress towards achieving them must be carefully monitored. We fully support the duties to be placed on ministers to make regular reports to the Parliament. That will give members the opportunity to question them effectively and openly and to hold them to account for meeting the targets. Although we prefer carrots rather than sticks to encourage businesses, public sector bodies and individuals to make the necessary changes to their behaviour in the interests of climate change mitigation, we accept that public bodies should have regard to the guidance that they will receive from ministers.

Finally, I will deal with a couple of aspects of part 5 of the bill that concerned my party. Following the Government's decision to drop the forestry leasing proposals, we are pleased that the bill now requires ministers to lay a land use strategy before the Parliament by March 2011. Given the desire for significantly more woodland in Scotland and other competing land uses such as the food production that is so important for our food security, the increasing need for sustainable flood risk management and the need for land for industrial and housing development, it is extremely important that Scotland has a proper plan to use its land in the most appropriate and sustainable way.

On the Conservative benches, we are keen to encourage and improve energy efficiency, so we are pleased that the Parliament has approved the various amendments that will allow energy efficient improvements to dwellings and non-domestic properties. I join other members in commending Sarah Boyack for her immense contribution in that regard over the years. As a north-east MSP, I am also extremely pleased with the minister's stated commitment to extend the combined heat and power schemes that a number of Aberdeen residents enjoy and his intention that that will be done from April next year.

I could say a great deal more about the detail of this groundbreaking legislation, but I conclude by welcoming the many measures that will help us to make progress in the battle to reduce and mitigate the effects of climate change. There are those who will not be happy with the progress that we have made, but the bill is a major step in the right direction and we will be happy to support it at decision time.

Photo of Des McNulty Des McNulty Labour 4:49 pm, 24th June 2009

Like other members, I begin by expressing my particular thanks to the clerks. I probably caused them more late nights and problems than anyone else did at stages 1 and 2, although I probably did not quite do so at stage 3. I am conscious that giving the clerks more work had consequences not only for my fellow committee members but for members of the bill team, so I apologise to them for all the work that I caused them.

Collectively, we have substantially improved the bill. It will be interesting to compare the amended bill that we pass with the bill that was introduced, because that will provide a measure of how far we have come and how much we have added to and adapted the bill, thereby substantially improving it, as I think members of all parties accept.

Our collective improvement of the bill is a great tribute to the Parliament's committee system and how it differs from the Westminster system. Bills in the Scottish Parliament go to a specialist committee, whose members have a background and an interest in the committee's work and build up an area of expertise. I am not saying that we are all experts, but in the context that I have described ministers cannot bring committees information and not expect to be asked difficult questions from time to time—and very difficult questions a fair part of the time.

The collective approach to improving the bill is also a tribute to the Government, given that the make-up of the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee is such that the Government party is numerically weak. There are more Labour than SNP members on the committee. That not only presented the Government with problems, which Mr Stevenson and his SNP colleagues dealt with well, but placed a responsibility on Labour members, to which I hope that we responded by being constructive.

The process that the committee went through was all about persuasion. I say to Liam McArthur and Alison McInnes that to some extent their problem was that they did not successfully persuade us about matters that they chose to pursue. They might need to reflect on that. We all need to focus on our ability to persuade people on issues that we want to pursue. I did not persuade people to agree to all the changes that I or my party colleagues wanted to make to the bill, but we made significant changes, not by saying, "We are right and you are wrong," but by saying, "How can we take this forward in a way that improves the bill?" It is not just about improving the bill. As Malcolm Chisholm said, passing the bill is not the end of the process but the beginning of implementation. The setting of a target is meaningful only if we also set policy priorities that are consistent with the objectives in the bill. I thought that Mr Swinney's comments jarred a bit in one area. He seems to regard the 42 per cent target as "34 per cent if the Europeans give in". I do not think that that is where we have got to. The Parliament is not asking the Government to say that 34 per cent is as far as we can go. What Parliament is asking—and what Scotland wants—is for the Government to consider what additional, cost-effective measures can be brought in and what policy proposals must be reviewed so that we can move towards a higher target.

If David Kennedy is asked whether the bill's 2020 target is inappropriate, as he was asked last week, he is likely to reply, "Well, 34 per cent is fine." However, if we ask him what additional action we can take to drive up that target, I think that we will get a different answer. The onus is on the Government to come up with policy proposals that can drive up Scotland's potential to achieve emissions reductions. The question that we want the UK Committee on Climate Change to answer is, "What is Scotland's potential and how do we achieve it?" The bill is a good one. It might not be as good as it could be and some aspects of it might have been improved, but it will provide a solid foundation. We must drive the process forward in real terms, by engaging people and acting in a way that will deliver the objectives that we have set out.

Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party 4:54 pm, 24th June 2009

I thank John Swinney for the name check in his opening remarks in the debate. I also thank members around the chamber for their warm words. The contributions of a large number of parliamentarians can be seen in the bill, and those parliamentarians have been informed by widespread action and lobbying from outside the chamber.

The bill is complex, and I quite enjoy engaging with complex bills. Quite early in my business career, I was told that when a person did a job well, their reward was that they got to do it again; but I hope that the cabinet secretary does not have anything immediately in mind in that regard. We shall see.

Alex Johnstone congratulated the clerks to the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee, and I would like to congratulate the bill team, whose efforts on occasions could only be described as heroic. The team responded to ministers but, in addition, and through the process of engagement that we have sought to create, they responded to members of other political parties, and tried to support them. The process has been a model for how the Parliament can work. It is very much how we, as a minority Government, would wish to go about our business, now and in the future.

We ended up with a substantial area of common ground, and we now have a substantial set of proposals to which we can compare our views with satisfaction. Alex Johnstone tried to compare himself with an orang-utan; I have agreed with his wife that I will ensure that, at least in circumference, that comparison will not be true.

Cathy Peattie made a particular contribution by being here on her ruby wedding anniversary. I am only three weeks—no, four weeks, no, five weeks—away from mine. [Laughter.] But with Gavin Brown, I am waiting to see whether the most important delivery of the day has happened. He has been on tenterhooks, waiting to find out whether his next child has been delivered today. We have drawn people in from aa the airts; we have created a priority for this bill, and people have respected that.

Patrick Harvie raised questions in relation to devolved and reserved matters. However, on this particular subject, there is common purpose between the United Kingdom Administration and ourselves. That is not least because we have to be part of the UK's efforts. Our success will be part of its success.

Patrick Harvie also talked about direct action. I counsel him, very severely, that we have to behave responsibly, and that we have to take the people of Scotland with us. We must turn this legislation—[Interruption.]

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

Order. There is an awful lot of background noise and I would prefer less of it.

Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party

We must turn this legislation into real action.

Patricia Ferguson referred to Allied Vehicles in her constituency. Within the past week, I was delighted to drive one of its electric vehicles. It is interesting to note that battery technology is probably the technology that is not yet up to the mark. A lot of work will be done on that. In Scotland, we have biotech industries and some electrical engineers, and that will probably help. Patricia Ferguson also mentioned Malawi—a topic that brings home the whole idea of social justice that is at the heart of what we are trying to do.

Today has largely been a day in which we have looked inwards. However, we must now look outwards towards Scotland's comity, to countries around the world, and to the United Nations conference in Copenhagen in December. Most of all, we must look outwards to the poor and disadvantaged in Africa, India, China, Brazil and other countries all round the world.

The bill is not an economic bill, although it will have economic effects. It is not legislation to gather dust on the shelves of hundreds of lawyers; it is a moral step we take that will be important for the world.

When I had dinner with Ian Marchant a couple of weeks ago at the business delivery group, he gave me a copy of Douglas Adams's "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". Ford Prefect had come from another world to look at the earth, and he was working on an entry in the guide that said that the earth was "harmless". After vigorous research, he converted that assessment to "mostly harmless".

Through this bill, let us turn the earth and humans' efforts on earth into something that is mostly harmless. Let us also remember that the answer to everything in the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy is one that is relevant to today. The answer was 42.