The next item of business is stage 3 proceedings on the
Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill.
In dealing with the amendments, members should have: the bill as amended at stage 2; the marshalled list; the supplement to the marshalled list; and the groupings of amendments.
I remind members that the division bell will sound and proceedings will be suspended for five minutes for the first division of the afternoon. The period of voting for the first division will be 30 seconds. Thereafter, I will allow a voting period of one minute for the first division after a debate. A member who wishes to speak in the debate on any group of amendments should press their request-to-speak button as soon as possible after I call the group.
Members should now refer to the marshalled list of amendments.
This group contains two very minor technical amendments, which need little explanation. Amendment 2 will fix a duplicative section heading in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. Amendment 5 will ensure wording consistency between the provisions on calculating annual targets.
I move amendment 2.
Amendment 2 agreed to.
The Presiding Officer:
I remind members that a mendments 17 and 18 are direct alternatives. “Direct alternatives” means two or more amendments that seek to replace the same text in a bill with alternative approaches. A vote will be taken on both amendments 17 and 18 in the order in which they appear in the marshalled list. If both amendments are agreed to, the second amendment—that is, amendment 18—will succeed the first, and amendment 17 will cease to have effect.
At stage 2, it was momentous to see the cross-party consensus that a net zero target is right for Scotland. I am whole-heartedly delighted that that consensus has continued in relation to the setting of an interim target, to set our trajectory for the new decade. That is a measure of the bill’s strength and this Parliament’s success in stepping up to the climate emergency.
We are 10 years on from the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, and we are armed with a wealth of new research and improved understanding of the task ahead. The Parliament well knows that the United Nations says that we have 11 years to stop irreparable climate damage and that what happens in the next decade is crucial.
The Opposition parties came to agree that the Scottish National Party’s proposal for a 2030 emissions target of 70 per cent lower than the baseline—only a little up from what was set for that date back in 2009—was not good enough. The evidence base for that decision came from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the climate catastrophes that we have witnessed and the public mandate from the brilliant climate strikers. It is a political decision, but it is based on science.
In amendment 17, I propose a 75 per cent target, in the hope that we can find a consensus on the mid-point of the fair shares calculation—Scottish Labour has come down from our initial position of 77 per cent. I am delighted that our approach has been successful and that all parties have come to agree on it.
I am proud of the energy and vision that were shown at United Kingdom Labour’s conference this week and of the motion that was agreed to on the green new deal.
Labour is sympathetic to amendment 18, but we will abstain in the vote on the amendment. We look forward to consulting on a unique Scottish position, including on how we can take action to deliver more than 75 per cent by 2030, the interim target year.
Across the parties, there is a clear grasp of the challenges that the agriculture and land use sectors face in relation to the need for funding and advisory support in a just transition. Many also acknowledge that the carbon accounting system for farms must be altered to recognise peat restoration and tree planting.
We have all received significant numbers of emails that call for bolder interim targets. Many of us have been in dialogue with extinction rebellion members about their radical, brave demands.
I also expect that members from across the parties were at the climate strike last Friday, and I hope that the demonstrators’ enthusiasm, frustration and unity rocked us all. Above all, the interim target is about justice for those young people. If we set a business-as-usual target, we will shake their trust in this Parliament—another of the institutions that, so far and for too long, have failed to take the issue seriously. I do not want this Parliament to shake its head and turn its back on those brilliant young people, on the generations to come and on the global south.
I urge members to support a stronger interim target for Scotland, to show that we are world leaders and to go on from there.
I move amendment 17.
We have 10 years left—just two parliamentary sessions—in which to tackle the climate emergency. That is the challenge that has been laid down by the scientists and by the thousands of young people who are protesting on our streets. The emergency is the debt that we carry from our industrial history and it demands that we do our fair and equitable share.
If we do not come out of today with a bill that rises to that challenge, we will have spectacularly failed ourselves, the young and future generations.
The Greens have led the call to strengthen the 2030 targets in the bill. Eighty per cent by 2030 would dramatically improve our chances of keeping the world within 1.5° of warming. That would give us the best hope that we can survive extinction. A lower target and the advice from the United Kingdom Committee on Climate Change are based on a gamble—a 50:50 chance of keeping the world safely within 1.5° of warming. Presiding Officer, would you gamble your children’s future on the flip of a coin? I would not.
In its stage 1 evidence, the UK Committee on Climate Change was clear that ramping up action now in areas such as tree planting, agriculture, housing and energy means that we can go much faster. Many of the amendments that we will consider later today will drive that greater ambition.
Parliament is waiting for the Scottish Government to fully review all policies and propose new actions. We cannot wait for yet more delay and years of analysis of our options. We know what needs to be done. We know that a Scottish Green new deal, using every lever available to transition to a zero carbon economy, is the transformational change that we need.
Labour proposed a moderate increase—to 75 per cent—to the 2030 target. I welcome that and the commitment from the SNP today, but it is not enough. We need a clear and bold direction today: to do what is necessary and fair; to reduce the risk; to send the strongest signal that the climate emergency demands an emergency response—the only response. It starts here, by raising that ambition to 80 per cent by 2030.
Business as usual will only make worse the dangers presented by the climate emergency declared earlier this year by the UK and Scottish Governments. That is why the Scottish Conservatives supported the Scottish Government’s commitment to setting a more ambitious emissions target for 2045 and, earlier this year, voted in favour of amendments to bring forward interim targets. We recognise that urgent action is needed to tackle the climate emergency and to make real progress on reducing emissions. Today, we will vote for the more ambitious interim target of 75 per cent by 2030.
My five years as the climate change minister fundamentally changed my life. When we set a 2050 target, I told colleagues that I hoped to be 104 years old then. I am very grateful that we have brought the target forward by five years—I will be only 99 years old in 2045. In 2030, I hope to be 84. That tells members that this is not about a wrinkly old soul such as me, but about the generations who will follow.
I admire unambiguously and without reservation the efforts of youngsters. At the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, we had a primary-age school student come to talk to us. She was a most impressive person. We owe it to her and to all the youngsters who have been campaigning to set targets that are realistic, that are founded in science and that will be hard for us to deliver on.
Initially, I had reservations about the 75 per cent target. The 70 per cent figure is already a world-leading target, but a 75 per cent target would entrench Scotland’s position as a world leader in climate change. However, there is nothing good about being a world leader if we do not use that leadership to persuade others, because we produce but one seven hundredth of the world’s emissions.
I hope that the Parliament will unite, because, at the end of the day, if we have a unanimous view, we will have the credibility to persuade others. We must do that to support future generations.
It is widely recognised that we face a climate emergency. Some reached that conclusion earlier than others, but we must now use that general acceptance as a platform from which to launch a more ambitious response to the challenges that we face.
Scottish Liberal Democrats welcome the fact that, during its scrutiny of the bill, Parliament has already chosen to adopt a target of net zero emissions by 2045. That represents an important step forward in ambition and urgency, and it is supported by the UKCCC’s advice.
However, setting such a target is largely symbolic unless we also commit to greater ambition and urgency in the early stages—that is, over the next decade. The IPCC report in 2018 could not have been clearer when it said that
“Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”.
It also said that
“What happens between now and 2030 is crucial”.
In response to that advice, setting a target of a 70 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 is inadequate. It represents only a marginal increase in what we set in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, and, as the UKCCC has itself acknowledged, it emerged from the approach of simply
“drawing a straight line from emissions in 2020 to the date of net-zero”.
Setting a more ambitious target for 2030 still needs to be based on what is realistic and achievable. If nothing else, that will allow us to take people with us, to ensure that they can and will play their part in the necessary transition.
There has been much discussion with colleagues across the parties about what an appropriate figure might be, and I welcome the cross-party engagement that has characterised the scrutiny of the bill. I believe that 75 per cent sets the right balance. It is stretching—it will be extremely challenging—but it is achievable and sets us on course for net zero emissions by 2045.
Of course there should be scope in the bill for targets to be reviewed as evidence and opportunities change, but to go beyond 75 per cent at this stage would lack credibility. I support the amendment in Claudia Beamish’s name.
Throughout the bill process, the Government has remained committed to following the independent expert advice of the Committee on Climate Change on what constitutes the most ambitious, yet credible, targets.
We immediately lodged amendments at stage 2 to put the CCC’s recommended targets, including net zero by 2045 and a 70 per cent reduction by 2030, into the bill. The approach of following the CCC’s advice is also what the ECCLR Committee called for in its stage 2 report on the bill.
One of the key strengths of Scotland’s approach to emissions reductions—and one of the reasons why it has been so successful to date—is the reliance on an evidence-based approach that is based on the best available scientific advice. The Government remains committed to maintaining that link between the evidence and the pathway that we place Scotland on for the years to come.
The CCC has set out the most robust scientific assessment of the right targets for Scotland and the UK. It is clear that our 2045 net zero target is correct and the most ambitious scientifically feasible. The CCC has also set out that there is a gap in its detailed analysis of the path for emissions in the years up to 2045. In the absence of that detailed work, which the CCC has committed to undertake, its initial analysis suggested that the right target for Scotland for 2030 was 70 per cent. The CCC explicitly said that it had chosen a “prudent” target of 70 per cent, and we have always been clear that we believe that that meets the requirements of the Paris climate agreement.
It is clear that now is the time for even greater ambition in tackling the world’s climate emergency and that signals matter. That is why we will commit, today, to going further and will adopt a target of a 75 per cent reduction in Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 by supporting Labour’s amendment 17. However, we will also commit to seeking further, more detailed, advice from the CCC next year on that new 2030 target. A reduction of 70 per cent and a reduction of 75 per cent both more than meet what the IPCC special report says is needed globally over the next decade to prevent warming of more than 1.5°.
All parties supporting amendment 17 must understand how enormously challenging a 75 per cent target will be and must be prepared to join us in making the difficult delivery decisions that will follow. In agreeing to what is by far the most ambitious statutory target for 2030 of any country anywhere in the world, Parliament is committing itself to supporting the pathway that is set out in the bill and the tough policies that that pathway requires.
Let me say clearly to the Opposition parties that when recent proposals have been put forward to tackle emissions—the introduction of a workplace parking levy, for example—they have been met with fierce opposition. For us to have any hope of achieving a higher target for 2030, the parties that call for that higher target and claim to be serious about tackling climate change will need to back such assertions with action. If Parliament sets a higher target, it is no longer an option for any party to stand in the way of the measures that we need to take to tackle climate change.
The 75 per cent target also represents a clear challenge to the UK Government to step up and match Scotland’s high ambition. The current UK target for 2030 of a 57 per cent reduction will not support the delivery of a 75 per cent reduction here in Scotland. I invite members to note that the CCC’s recommended 70 per cent target—let alone a 75 per cent target—for 2030 would be the most ambitious target in law of any country in the world. I have already referred to the UK’s current target of 57 per cent; the EU’s current target is 40 per cent, and Sweden’s main target for that year, which applies to some sectors only, is 63 per cent. I therefore urge members to reject the Green Party’s amendment 18.
I thank Liam McArthur and the Tories for supporting the Scottish Labour amendment. I recognise that the Greens have gone further today, and Scottish Labour will consult on an 80 per cent target, partly in view of what happened at the Labour Party conference yesterday in relation to the green jobs revolution. We will see where we go with that. It is imperative that, across the chamber, we all continue to assess whether we can go further than we will go today. However, I have listened to what the cabinet secretary said. We have to do this in a way that supports communities, workers and the global south. That is important.
Stewart Stevenson highlighted that we call ourselves world leaders—I certainly think that we are up there.
Very excitingly, next year, the COP—the conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change—will be coming to Glasgow. We should all push forward as hard as we can to ensure that we are the very best so that we are a strong example to the world. As a developed country, we must ensure that we do not impact heavily or, if possible, that we do not impact at all on the global south.
I am sitting next to Sarah Boyack, who was involved in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, as was Stewart Stevenson. I recognise their work and the work of others who introduced that law. I recognise how far we have come, but I also recognise how far we have to go. Sarah Boyack has just reminded me we will have three sessions of Parliament before the targets come to fruition, as we hope and expect they will. Which of us will be here? In a sense, that does not really matter. What matters is that our children and our children’s children will be more likely to have a real future and real quality of life, and that children across the world will be less likely to be climate migrants. We hope that, wherever they are, they will be able to stay there and have a good quality of life.
Let us be sure that we reach the targets in an equitable way. I press amendment 17.
Amendment 17 agreed to.
Amendment 18 moved—[Mark Ruskell].
Thank you. I am sorry—I am feeling overwhelmed, already. Okay. On we go.
My amendments in group 3 are designed to ensure that Scotland stands up for climate justice, and that ministers act with respect to Scotland’s historically high emissions and support the global south in its climate action. Members will recall that I lodged amendments that covered those issues at stage 2, so I thank the Government for the dialogue that we had over the summer.
We must play our part and do no further harm. Amendment 10 seeks to add to the bill a “climate justice principle”, which the amendment defines as
“the importance of” mitigation and adaptation to climate change
“in ways which ... support ... people who are most affected by climate change but who have done the least to cause it and are the least equipped to adapt to its effects, and ... help to address inequality.”
Amendment 10 is significant: the importance of adding that principle to the bill cannot be overstated. Climate change is inextricably linked to human rights, and it exacerbates inequality by disproportionately affecting people who are already marginalised. In the global south especially, people’s lives, health, housing, sanitation, food and water are all put on the line by developed countries dragging their feet and making decisions that suit themselves.
Amendment 10 would add the climate justice principle, which would mean that ministers would have to have regard to it when preparing climate change plans. That would be welcome, so I urge all members to support it today.
I also urge members to support amendment 19, which would add reference to the principle to the target-setting criteria. That would be a much more meaningful way to deliver climate justice—by including it in the approach to the overall ambition and speed of tackling climate change, rather than just in our domestic emissions reduction plan.
Amendment 4 would further amend the definition of
“fair and safe Scottish emissions budget”,
which is already in the bill, to include reference to article 3 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which includes extremely worthy principles, including
“equity ... common but differentiated responsibilities ... special circumstances of developing country Parties”,
the precautionary principle, sustainable development and support for sustainable economic growth.
Amendment 20, however, goes somewhat further than amendment 4, and I hope that there will be support for it from across the chamber. It makes explicit reference to the principles of
“equity and ... common but differentiated responsibilities”.
Those principles are the essence of ensuring the “fair” part of a “fair and safe ... budget”. I understand that the cabinet secretary has concerns about competing hierarchies, but without amendment 20, those vital aspects will be absent from the face of the bill, and will exist only in a reference.
Amendment 6 is also a result of dialogue with the cabinet secretary following stage 2, and would add
“supporting ... action in developing countries” to tackle climate change to the scope of climate change plans. It would specifically require ministers to set out how they will do that
“by the sharing of expertise and technology”.
That is more in line with Scotland’s delivery of climate justice, on which we have a strong record, led by the Scottish Government, and with supporting those who are least equipped to deal with a crisis that is not of their own making.
Finally, I have in group 3 a number of amendments relating to sustainable development. Amendment 3 would add sustainable development considerations, including the UN sustainable development goals, to the target-setting criteria.
Amendment 12 would require that climate change plans set out how they are expected to contribute to achieving sustainable development goals, and amendment 14 would add reference to those goals to the general duty in relation to sustainable development in section 92 of the 2009 act.
Amendments 12A and 14A would add the stipulation that considerations should be given to ensuring that Scotland’s actions
“do not negatively impact on the ability of other countries to achieve sustainable development.”
The amendments would add a much stronger duty to properly account for the “do no harm” principle, which, in reality, is “do no more harm.”
Amendments 9 and 11 are minor consequential amendments, and amendment 16 includes a definition of the UN sustainable development goals.
I will also support Angus MacDonald’s amendment 1, which makes important reference to the 1.5°C limit, under which we must all stay if we are to have a safe and prosperous world in the future.
I urge members to agree to the amendments in group 3 to show the world that Scotland is a member of the global community and is taking a moral approach to the climate emergency.
I move amendment 19.
Amendment 1 is similar to amendment 97, which I lodged at stage 2. I thank the Government for its assistance in refining the amendment.
Amendment 1 will ensure that regular independent expert advice will be sought and published on how Scotland’s targets relate to global efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C. Needless to say, I am pleased that the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee and the Scottish Government have recognised the importance of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report “Global Warming of 1.5°C”. The UKCCC describes its subsequent target recommendations for Scotland, which are reflected in the bill, as being
“towards the high end of the estimated range of necessary reductions for a limit of 1.5°C”.
Therefore, it is incredibly important that the targets continue to be kept under regular review in the light of further developments in science, and progress through efforts that are made in other countries.
The bill will ensure that updated advice from the Committee on Climate Change is sought at least every five years. Those requests for advice will include requests for the CCC’s views on the appropriate level for the fair and safe emissions budget for Scotland, which is defined in relation to the internationally agreed global temperature aim that is set out in the Paris agreement. That aim references “well below” 2°C, as well as 1.5°C.
In effect, amendment 1 will provide a way to ensure that expert advice on how Scotland’s targets relate to the 1.5°C limit in the Paris agreement will continue to be sought and made available.
I urge members to support amendment 1.
I thank Claudia Beamish and Angus MacDonald for their amendments. The bill is a response to the Paris agreement, and the spirit and substance of that agreement must be delivered in the heart of the bill.
Our industrial revolution created a huge climate debt that has been passed on to communities around the world, including ones that have barely begun their own development journeys. We have to allow countries in the developing world the room to breathe in the climate emergency. Our target setting must be equitable, and we have to be mindful of the climate injustice and suffering that is happening with just 1°C warming, let alone what might come in the decades ahead. Our role must also be to smooth the path to sustainable development for all countries, and not put barriers in their way through our actions at home.
For those reasons, Greens strongly back all the amendments in group 3.
I support all the amendments in group 3 because they are about cross-cutting and global action. The key issue with the UN sustainable development goals is that there is no one policy lever. We have to ensure that climate action cuts right across all the relevant issues around the world—housing, transport, energy, economy, biodiversity, flooding and equalities. All the SDGs must be acted on.
At the forefront, we need the concept of global justice, so that when we work, through the United Nations, on support for the global south, we acknowledge that it is already facing huge poverty issues and inequalities. Action must be factored into all our trade, aid and business policies.
I thank the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund for the work that it has done in promoting amendments. I am thankful for the work that many of our charities do in supporting countries and people who are already experiencing what climate change will eventually be like all around the globe. Groups including Oxfam, Tearfund and Christian Aid do essential work.
As sea levels rise, people will be shifted from their countries. We already see the impact of rising sea levels in places such as Bangladesh, and there are already climate refugees. This year is being seen as one of the worst and most disastrous in memory with regard to the number of people who have had to leave their homes because of climate change. We need to focus on that. Floods, landslides, tornadoes and other natural disasters are not all a direct results of our climate emergency, but they give us an insight into what the future holds if we do not act.
Let us all support the amendments in group 3. I hope that colleagues in every party will support them, because they are practical and they are ethical. They are what we need to do. If we are going to say that we are one of the most radical countries in the world in terms of tackling the climate emergency, we have to follow through in all our policy delivery and Government actions.
Conservatives support the principles of international environmental law and the intention behind many of the amendments in group 3. I am not fully convinced that codification in the bill of international environmental law is necessary or required, but we are sympathetic to many of the amendments in group 3, nonetheless.
However, we have grave concerns that amendments 12A and 14A, which seek to “not negatively impact” the sustainable development of other countries could create a legal precedent, whereby Scottish ministers and the Scottish Government would be unable to make necessary changes to tackle climate change and instigate the creation of new sectors, industries or jobs, because those changes might have an impact on other countries. I do not want the bill to lead to further legal disputes or constrain our ability to tackle climate change. On that basis, we will not support the amendments.
I am happy to support amendment 1 from Angus MacDonald, which represents a sensible way to further reflect in the bill the importance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. The Scottish Government has accepted the vital message of the IPCC’s special report on 1.5°C, and is committed to contributing to global efforts to reach that goal.
We must, however, be realistic about what one small country can do to affect global emissions levels. The statutory framework around targets needs to reflect that reality, as well as Scotland’s leadership. At stage 2, we amended the bill to explicitly link the definition of Scotland’s fair and safe emissions budget to the Paris agreement global temperature goal, which is to limit warming to “well below 2 °C” and to pursue
“efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C”.
Angus MacDonald’s amendment provides a useful and complementary addition to the target framework, by requiring ministers to regularly ask the CCC for additional advice on how Scotland’s targets will contribute to global efforts on the 1.5°C aspect of the Paris goal in particular.
I turn to the suite of amendments from Claudia Beamish, with whom there was constructive engagement over the summer. I was, however, just a little disappointed to see that she had lodged further amendments that undermine some of the areas in which I thought that we had established consensus.
I am sympathetic to the underlying purpose of this group of amendments. Climate change is a global challenge and it is right that that is clearly reflected in our domestic legislation, including through recognising the interactions between actions to reduce emissions and sustainable development. Scotland is a responsible global citizen and we recognise our moral obligation to contribute to the challenge of climate change, and to influence others to do the same.
I am content to support Claudia Beamish’s amendments where they will work to reflect those considerations in the target framework of the bill in a workable and appropriate way. The Scottish Government’s national performance framework is Scotland’s way to localise and implement the UN sustainable development goals. The framework has a focus on tackling inequalities so that no one in Scotland is left behind as we work together to achieve the goals.
Amendments 3, 11, 12, 14 and 16 from Claudia Beamish provide a strong package to reflect the importance of that policy coherence around sustainable development at the heart of our climate change legislation.
Amendment 6 ensures that climate change plans will include a section on action to support developing countries on tackling climate change, as well as the actions to reduce emissions here in Scotland.
Amendments 9 and 10 place Scotland’s proven commitment to climate justice on the face of the bill, recognising that those who have done least to cause climate change are often the ones who suffer the most from its effects. As I have said, tackling inequalities must be central to our approach and these amendments further recognise that.
Amendment 4 updates the definition of Scotland’s fair and safe emissions budget, the level of which is recommended independently by the Committee on Climate Change, to link to the internationally agreed set of principles that are set out by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Those amendments will significantly strengthen the role of sustainable development and climate justice in Scotland’s climate change legislation. However, I cannot support amendments 20, 19, 12A or 14A and I urge members to reject them. Amendment 20 seeks to further amend the definition of the fair and safe emissions budget to highlight specific and selective wording from the UNFCCC principles. That approach risks creating presentational and legal hierarchies, by suggesting that those elements of the principles are more important than others. It also fails to recognise all aspects of article 3.1 of the UNFCCC, in which those principles are outlined, which sets out that developed countries should lead action to tackle climate change—precisely what Scotland is doing.
As I have indicated, I urge members to support Claudia Beamish’s amendment 4, which refers to the UNFCCC principles in the round, and to reject amendment 20. The two amendments cannot both be sensibly agreed to.
Amendment 19 is unnecessary and potentially counterproductive. It seeks to add the climate justice principle to the target-setting criteria. Although I am supportive of the principle, I consider that that ground is sufficiently well covered by the existing set of criteria and that adding further principles to that would at best add no value and could at worst cause confusion.
The statutory target-setting criteria already include economic circumstances, including a particular requirement to consider jobs and employment opportunities; social circumstances, in particular the likely impact on those who live in poorer or more deprived communities; and the likely impact on those who live in remote rural and island communities. If amendment 4 is agreed to, the UNFCCC principles will also be referred to within the criteria through the fair and safe emissions budget.
I invite members to consider that the statutory just transition principles, which we will discuss further in a later group, do not form part of the criteria. It would seem inconsistent to highlight one of our climate change plan principles over the other ones in the way that is proposed.
Amendments 12A and 14A, which seek to directly amend Claudia Beamish’s own amendments, are entirely impractical. I cannot support proposals that would require, in law, assessments to be made of the impact of Scottish policies on the ability of other countries to achieve sustainable development outcomes. It is entirely unclear from the amendments how such assessments could robustly and meaningfully be undertaken. For example, it is unclear whether that duty should apply to all other countries and, if not, to which ones it should apply. Amendment 6 requires ministers to set out the positive actions that they are taking to support developing countries in tackling climate change, and we think that that is the right way forward.
To be clear, I could not support amendment 12 or amendment 14—which are otherwise positive measures—if amendments 12A and 14A were to be agreed to.
In summary, I urge members to support all the amendments in the group other than amendments 20, 19, 12A and 14A, which risk undermining the positive effects that will be achieved by the other amendments.
I was, indeed, pleased to work with the cabinet secretary over the summer on the amendments. We went as far as it was possible to go together. However, in discussion with SCIAF and other groups, we decided that we wanted to go further, and the Parliament will have to decide whether it wants to join us in supporting the global south in what we see as the most robust way possible.
As Sarah Boyack highlighted, the sustainable development goals have no single policy lever. Climate justice encompasses all our actions and policies, and as a developed country our actions should be judged against those.
I was puzzled by what Maurice Golden said about being prevented from supporting our amendment because it would affect the global south negatively. However, he gave no examples of what he meant. If he wants to clarify that in any way, I would be happy to listen.
I can give the member an example. If a new circular economy product is produced in Scotland, that could clearly have an impact on other countries that might be producing a similar product. Therefore, putting the principle in statute could be counterproductive.
I thank Maurice Golden for that explanation, but I still do not agree with him. I do not think that creating a product that is similar to an existing one will prevent anyone else from producing that existing one. The idea of global climate justice is not that we seek not to impact on people by producing a product that they might want to produce, but that we do not impact on them by doing things that will affect them negatively in terms of climate change.
We have a global responsibility to ensure that we do not impact negatively on the ability of other countries to act.
It is fundamentally important that we recognise the issue of climate justice in the setting of every target, so I hope that members will support the provisions that I have proposed on that, as well as all my other amendments in the group.
I am pleased to be moving amendment 21 on the establishment of a climate citizens assembly. I welcome the cross-portfolio discussions that have been taking place, which have involved Patrick Harvie, Michael Russell, Roseanna Cunningham and me. I thank activists from outside the Parliament—some of whom might be inside the Parliament today—who have pushed hard for such an assembly to be set up.
It is clear that we will face unprecedented societal change in the years ahead. How we take people with us in designing and preparing for hard choices will be critical. A citizens assembly is essential if we are to understand the issues, set agendas and test the solutions that will go beyond our current thinking on what is possible.
The Irish Citizens’ Assembly’s work on climate should be a strong inspiration for our own. By feeding its work to ministers and Parliament, it set in train new actions for Ireland’s climate action plan, and it was able to consider issues such as tax policy that were too thorny at first for the politicians to consider, although they eventually caught up on that.
I look forward to the establishment of Scotland’s first-ever climate citizens assembly, and I hope that it will light the path to tackling the climate emergency.
I move amendment 21.
I thank Mark Ruskell for lodging amendment 21 and for setting out very clearly the case for a citizens assembly. The Scottish Liberal Democrats very much support the amendment. The circumstances are precisely the sort in which the use of a citizens assembly is justified. As Mark Ruskell has said, such assemblies can make a real contribution in identifying ways of achieving a genuinely shared objective. Perhaps the circumstances are in contrast to other instances in which such assemblies are currently being proposed.
How such citizens assemblies would interact with other sources of advice, evidence and expertise is an obvious question. However, there seems to be nothing in what Mark Ruskell has proposed that would preclude that from happening in ways that would inform and support the citizens assembly’s work and ensure that ministers are able to draw on the advice that they will continue to need when they need it.
I look forward to hearing the cabinet secretary’s comments, but I very much welcome
Mark Ruskell’s amendment.
In the climate emergency, a climate citizens assembly is a necessary step to be inclusive and in terms of behaviour change. It will help people to connect with the Parliament.
We invited young people into the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, and that was really effective. Sometimes, people do not feel that they can come to the Parliament, so we need to take a further step to allow people to have such discussions beyond the Parliament. We therefore support the proposal.
I want to look back to the Supreme Court’s decision on parliamentary sovereignty on Tuesday, which is not far back. I feel uncomfortable about the view of some people who have approached us in relation to a citizens assembly on climate change: they would like the Scottish Parliament to be bound by its deliberations. We cannot possibly support that in a parliamentary democracy. We can be inspired and influenced by a citizens assembly, but in a parliamentary democracy we cannot be bound by it. I simply wanted to highlight that point. However, we will support the proposal.
The Scottish Government supports the use of deliberative democracy in Scotland. When a problem requires a longer-term approach, a change of perspective or a development in the way that we as a country discuss the issue, involving the people of Scotland directly in the debate is the right thing to do. We will not solve the most challenging issues of the day if we do not listen to one other and hear and understand what the experts have to say and what the people are most concerned about, or if we do not as a country commit ourselves to a more respectful, balanced and informed dialogue.
The Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations set out the case for citizens assemblies generally in a recent debate in the chamber. There was support from across the parties for assemblies to look at the most challenging issues of our day, including support for an assembly on climate change.
Climate change is an issue that is well suited to a citizens assembly. It is certainly one of the most challenging issues of our day. It requires difficult decisions to be made, and it affects the daily lives and futures of every one of us.
I am happy to support the amendment to mandate the establishment of a Scottish citizens assembly on climate change. Assemblies work when they are independent, and the amendment requires that. More than anything else, citizens assemblies need to be established with a strong commitment by a country’s Government and Parliament that they will take seriously the evidence that the assemblies have gathered and the recommendations that they have produced. The amendment guarantees that, too. It requires the assembly to lay its report before Parliament and to provide the Scottish ministers with a copy, to which they must respond.
I therefore support the amendment and look forward to working with parties across the Parliament to establish Scotland’s citizens assembly on climate change during the remainder of this parliamentary session.
I thank members across parties for their support for the amendment.
We are seeing deliberative democracy really taking off in Scotland. There is participatory budgeting and, in the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, we have held our own citizens jury on the future of agricultural subsidies. The approach is genuinely engaging. It accesses views that we would not otherwise hear and brings new voices into decision making and thinking, which is hugely important.
When such initiatives are established, there is sometimes a danger of expectations running incredibly high. In this case, the expectations of the citizens assembly are very clear. It will not be a decision-making body; it will produce reports, advice and thinking that the Government and committees of Parliament will then be able to consider. I do not believe that the citizens assembly should have the responsibility of taking decisions; that responsibility rightly lies with us in Parliament. However, we should actively engage with and consider the results and work of the citizens assembly through our business in Parliament.
Amendment 21 agreed to.
Last year, I think, the national grid noticed a sudden huge drop in electricity consumption in Dundee. It took the national grid a while to work out that it was due to something happening at Ninewells hospital. A few phone calls later, there was confirmation that the hospital was okay. There was no problem, but the hospital had had its new energy system switched on, which immediately had a massive impact on the grid.
The decisions that public bodies make, particularly in relation to their infrastructure, are significant in how we tackle climate change. Such decisions can either lock in emissions for decades or make big emissions savings, which can deliver equally big financial savings. Tackling the climate emergency means getting every institution’s actions and spending going in the right direction. We need to understand how public bodies contribute to the solution through both the capital and revenue sides of their budgets. Amendment 22 will drive the conversation between public bodies and Government in support of delivery of the targets in the bill.
I move amendment 22.
We support amendment 22, because every single one of our public bodies should, as a matter of course, be mainstreaming action on climate change. That should be agreed before their budgets are agreed. It is about leadership, culture and thinking proactively about public procurement, so that there is consideration of the impact on climate change of every investment and expenditure decision, whether it is about resilience to climate change or lowering carbon emissions.
We very much support amendment 22. It is a short amendment, but it could have a big impact on leadership and delivery on the ground.
Although I have sympathy for the motivation behind amendment 22, I cannot support it, because a better way forward is not only available but already in train.
The Scottish Government is consulting on the role of public sector bodies in tackling climate change. That work includes asking a specific question about whether such bodies should report annually on how they use their resources to contribute to reducing emissions. Once the consultation is complete, the Scottish Government will introduce secondary legislation to update the statutory reporting duties under the 2009 act.
There are several reasons why taking that approach, rather than the one in amendment 22, is the right way to progress the entirely legitimate questions about how the public sector supports emissions reductions. First, the review covers the full range of public sector bodies in Scotland. In contrast, amendment 22 would exclude many significant players by being framed in terms of only those bodies for which ministers must approve
“proposals for the use of resources”.
Secondly, amendment 22 would not capture any United Kingdom public bodies that operate in Scotland, such as Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions. Just yesterday, I wrote to the UK Government to ask it to decarbonise its estates and operations in Scotland in time to allow our net zero date of 2045 to be met, rather than its target date of 2050.
Perhaps the member should listen to what I have said. I have written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, at Westminster, to ask the UK Government to agree to what we will discuss in relation to public sector bodies.
Of course we cannot legislate for UK public sector bodies, but their emissions will add to our emissions stats. I am asking the UK Government to come on board with what we are doing.
My point is that there is a group of public sector bodies that do not submit their budgets to us. Amendment 22 would not even capture all public bodies in the devolved arena—it would exclude those such as Scottish local authorities, health boards and Crown Estate Scotland, whose budgets are their own to set. In contrast, all such bodies are captured by the public sector reporting duty, so pursuing that route forward would be substantially more effective.
For those reasons, I urge members to reject amendment 22.
I feel as though I have been listening to this debate for some time now. Sarah Boyack has talked about mainstreaming and public procurement, which we talked about in the second session of the Scottish Parliament, yet the Government is still not taking significant action to crack the issue. The bill was the Government’s opportunity to put in provisions around public bodies and in a raft of other areas in which action needs to be taken to ensure that all institutions in the country work together to tackle the climate emergency.
The opposition to my amendment is disappointing. We had a discussion on the matter over the summer. I respect the fact that consultations are under way, but this is the moment to put something into legislation. Amendment 22 might not capture absolutely all public bodies, but it would move the situation forward significantly. The committee received evidence from the national health service in particular about the importance of reducing energy use, tackling climate change and improving the financial bottom line of many of our public institutions. We should be driving that forward right now. Just because amendment 22 is not complete in its scope does not mean that we cannot agree to it now and then consult on other areas that are not covered by it with a view to improving action over time.
I press amendment 22.
Amendments 23 and 23A seek to introduce a requirement on the Scottish ministers to create a balance sheet to measure nitrogen flows across all sectors and media in Scotland within 18 months of the bill being passed. I thank the Presiding Officer for accepting my manuscript amendment, which seeks to change the relevant timescale from 12 to 18 months. I think that a period of 18 months is more appropriate, as it will allow more time for research, modelling and consultation.
Nitrogen balance sheets are an established technique for understanding nitrogen flows across all sectors of the economy. A nitrogen balance sheet would allow us to calculate nitrogen use efficiency across Scotland and to develop a baseline figure for it, as well as showing areas where nitrogen should be used more efficiently. That would help us to develop fair and evidence-based policies to identify and tackle nitrogen loss across the whole of the economy, and to ensure that nitrogen efficiency is monitored and reported on, so that policy always reflects practice.
In this year’s programme for government, the Scottish Government committed to developing a national nitrogen balance sheet. I hope that we have support for these amendments from not just the SNP, but members across the chamber.
I move amendments 23 and 23A.
I very much welcome amendments 23 and 23A. In particular, I welcome the change to 18 months. It is worth saying that in committee, John Scott and I have been concerned about the way that the international greenhouse gas inventory works in relation to agriculture. The inventory is very unfair in reflecting the cost and benefit of agriculture, because it does not attribute to agriculture things such as forestry and renewable energy.
The balance sheet will play its own part in giving us a better understanding of the positive impact that agriculture—and, for that matter, agroforestry—can have on this particular agenda. Outwith this chamber, there has been too much lazy commentary—to put it bluntly—which has not considered the full facts relating to agriculture.
I am happy to support Maurice Golden’s proposal on that basis, and for many other reasons as well.
I welcome the amendments. The case for a nitrogen budget for Scotland has been building for several years, and this approach will cut pollution, waste and energy usage while saving money—especially for farmers.
Our fields are currently drenched with a staggering excess of 87kg of nitrogen per hectare. Not only is that an expensive waste of inputs; the subsequent costs of pollution and clean-ups of water and air are then, of course, borne by taxpayers.
I hope that the starting point of the budget will be compulsory soil testing, which is one of the recommendations of the UK Climate Change Committee that the Scottish Government has not yet adopted. It should also lead to innovation and new technologies that value nitrogen as the important resource that it is.
I will speak very briefly in support of Maurice Golden’s important amendments. I identify myself with the remarks of other members who have highlighted the issues. It is a challenge for farmers when a lot of what they do is not recognised, and the nitrogen balance sheet will help. Of course, the issue affects other sectors as well.
For quite a time in committee, in this parliamentary session and in the previous one, we have grappled with nitrogen. It is not before time that we are able to support these amendments, and I really hope that they are agreed to.
Like others, I rise to speak in support of the amendments. The manuscript amendment is very welcome in that it buys a little bit more time. Although there seem to be concerns around flexibility over the longer term, none of them are insurmountable.
As Stewart Stevenson rightly pointed out, the issue of providing greater balance in relation to the pros and cons of the role that agriculture plays in helping us to meet our climate change challenges is—in part—addressed through the amendments.
Therefore, I very much welcome them, and confirm that the Liberal Democrats will support them.
As indicated by Maurice Golden, the Scottish Government committed in the programme for government to preparing a nationwide nitrogen balance sheet. We recognise the value that such information can have in relation to better understanding Scotland’s nitrogen cycle and allowing us to take a systemic approach to improving nitrogen use efficiency, and reducing nitrogen waste throughout the entire economy.
The first stage of the work to create a balance sheet is, necessarily, research to explore the available evidence, which will, if it is to be done well, take some time. The amendment as it was originally lodged posed some technical difficulties, as it would have meant that the Government had substantially less time to undertake the necessary initial research. I am, therefore, very grateful to Maurice Golden for being willing to listen to those concerns and lodging a manuscript amendment to make the timing requirement more realistic. On that basis, I have no reservation in supporting the amendments.
It would be blinkered of us to focus solely on cutting emissions at home while increasing emissions through the consumption of products that are made abroad. It is unfortunate that the picture in that regard is worsening. We live in a consumer society. Consumption emissions are not falling fast enough, and those that are embedded in imported goods and services are rising.
If we are to get a grip on that picture, we need consumption emissions to be reported by sector and we then need to consider how those emissions can be cut, addressing the matter through the climate change plan.
I welcome the constructive discussions with the Government on consumption and I thank the Government for its support for amendments 24 and 34.
I move amendment 24.
I am content to support amendments
24 and 34 and I am grateful to Mark Ruskell for working with the Government on the amendments over the summer.
Consumption-based emissions associated with imported goods and services—commonly referred to as our carbon footprint—form an important part of the wider climate change picture. Scotland is already a leader in that it is one of the very few countries that publish regular official statistics on their carbon footprint. One of the national indicators is based on the metric.
It is appropriate that the bill should strengthen reporting duties, as is provided for in amendment 24, and that it ensures that measures to reduce consumption-based emissions are included in the scope of climate change plans, as is provided for in amendment 34.
We must remember that international practice, including under the Paris agreement, is to report emissions on a territorial basis, in part because doing so avoids risks of double counting. Reducing territorial emissions—that is, those from sources located here in Scotland—needs to remain the main focus of our target framework and efforts.
Amendments 24 and 34 strike a sensible balance between those considerations. They will strengthen the complementary role for carbon footprint reporting without jeopardising the necessary focus on reducing emissions at source.
Amendment 24 agreed to.
Amendments 25 and 27 are designed to better align our land use strategy with climate change action. I am pleased that they have the support of a number of non-governmental organisations, including WWF Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates, NFU Scotland and Nourish Scotland.
A key part of the 2009 act was the recognition of the key role that land use plays in climate mitigation and adaptation. However, there has been little progress on policy delivery. There has been no reporting since 2016, and in our view the issue is underresourced. The Government has not taken seriously enough the need for the land use principles to underpin planning.
However, we welcomed the commitment in this year’s programme for government to develop proposals to establish land use partnerships by 2021 and task them with the creation of frameworks by 2023. The amendments in my name support that commitment, and I will be confused if the Scottish Government does not support them.
Amendment 25 would strengthen the mandate of the land use strategy to facilitate delivery of climate change targets. Amendment 27 would require the Scottish ministers to set out, in the climate change plan, proposals and policies on the establishment, support and resourcing of regional land use partnerships and frameworks.
Regional land use partnerships and frameworks are key to the identification of land use priorities, in partnership with landowners and communities, to bring multiple carbon dioxide benefits, through targeted public spending to support delivery. An appropriate land use strategy would support climate action and the transition to a carbon-positive rural landscape as well as the development of the important role of carbon sequestration, as the UK Committee on Climate Change has highlighted.
I move amendment 25.
The programme for government commits us to establishing regional land use partnerships and frameworks by 2023. Amendments 25 and 27 are broadly in line with those commitments, and I am content to accept them.
The development of regional land use partnerships and frameworks is likely to be complicated, and that is reflected in the phased approach that the programme for government sets out. To ensure that we get it right, it is important that we maintain that phased approach, so that regional partnerships and frameworks are as effective as possible in contributing to tackling climate change.
I am content that amendment 27 provides a reasonable way to ensure that progress on delivering those commitments is reflected in future climate change plans.
On amendment 25, in relation to annual reporting on progress on the land use strategy, I have concerns that such reporting might prove to duplicate what will be set out, in any case, in the monitoring reports on the climate change plan. Nonetheless, I recognise the desire for regular reporting on the land use strategy in its own right and, on that basis, I am prepared to support amendment 25.
This has been a long time in the coming. I am delighted that the cabinet secretary is supporting the amendments and I hope that members across the chamber will do the same. As we go forward, it is vital that tackling climate change is at the heart of our land use strategies and regional partnerships. To have that commitment in the bill is significant.
Amendment 25 agreed to.
The past few months of this climate emergency have seen everybody, including the Greens, reassess whether our proposals are fit to deliver an unprecedented rate of change. The amendments that have already been passed today lay down fresh challenges. A revised climate plan is needed. A tweak here and there to a revised plan will not cut it. It has to be a priority for Government to deliver a fresh plan, with fresh ambition, in the next six months.
I move amendment 26.
First, I will respond to amendment 26, which I was disappointed to see lodged again after the stage 2 discussions in the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee. In line with what the committee called for in its stage 2 report, the First Minister has made a clear commitment to update the current climate change plan within six months of royal assent. Amendment 26 would instead require an entire new climate change plan process to be completed within six months. That proposition is significantly different from the committee’s recommendation and is not just unreasonable but flat-out impossible.
Extensive statutory requirements govern a full plan process. A draft version of the plan would need to be laid and scrutinised by Parliament within the proposed six-month window. Amendments that were agreed at stage 2 in response to the committee’s recommendations mean that at least four of those months must be occupied by parliamentary scrutiny. That would leave the Government with less than two months to design, prepare and consult on the plan. That is clearly untenable, particularly given the additional elements to the process that were added to the bill via amendments at stage 2.
For example, the bill requires that the CCC’s views be sought on draft plans. A reasonable amount of time would need to be given to the CCC to do that, and the Government would want to consider the CCC’s advice before laying the plan in Parliament. If we allowed a month for that process, we would be in a position where the draft plan would have to be produced, consulted on and to have all its statutory assessments completed in just one month.
The Parliament agreed to the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005, which requires the Government to conduct strategic environmental assessments of plans and programmes that are likely to have significant environmental effects. It would not be possible to meet that statutory requirement and a statutory requirement to finalise a new climate change plan, including parliamentary scrutiny of four months, within a six-month period.
There is a global climate emergency and, in response, meaningful, swift action is needed. The current climate plan was published just over 18 months ago, following a process of parliamentary scrutiny. The ECCLR Committee called for an updated plan, and the First Minister and I have made clear commitments to delivering that. Doing so within six months will be very challenging, but that is what we are committed to.
Amendment 26 is not practicable or reasonable, and I strongly urge members to reject it. In contrast, amendment 13, in my name, represents a pragmatic adjustment to the timing of future climate change plan monitoring reports in light of the commitment to update the current climate change plan within six months.
The bill places annual reporting on a statutory footing. As recommended by the ECCLR Committee, the timing of the reports has now been moved to fall before summer recess each year. Our commitment to updating the current plan within six months of royal assent means that that can be expected in late spring next year. It would not make sense for there to be a requirement to lay a set of monitoring reports at the same time as we lay the updated plan. To avoid that scenario, under amendment 17, the first set of monitoring reports under the bill arrangements will be required in May 2021.
That does not mean that no monitoring of the current climate change plan will occur until 2021. Building from the first plan monitoring report in October 2018, I confirm today that we will publish a second annual report later this autumn. The monitoring information in that report will help to inform the process of updating the plan itself.
We will support amendment 13. However, I appreciate Mark Ruskell’s intention behind the amendment for a new climate change plan. The Conservatives agree that there should be a new plan. There is a requirement on the Government to set out and chart our progress towards the new targets that we have agreed to today. However, the associated timescale of six months is just too stretching. As the Opposition, we want to put as much pressure on the Government, but we also want to be fair and reasonable. Amendment 26 does not meet that test.
Anything new that comes forward in relation to the climate emergency can be put into an updated plan with the agreement of the ECCLR Committee and Parliament. Having reflected on what the cabinet secretary has said today—I understood her to say that there will be an updated plan within six months—we will abstain on amendment 26 and support amendment 13. I see that she is nodding in agreement—I thank the cabinet secretary.
I welcome the cabinet secretary’s clarification about the Government’s plans for the process. We have to ensure that the revision to the climate change plan is meaningful and that there is enough time and involvement from committees to scrutinise what comes out of the bill. We are making big changes today, and the bill will have big implications.
Amendment 26, by agreement, withdrawn
There is a frustration among Opposition parties in the Parliament. For years now, we have continually highlighted what we see as poor ambition on climate change, especially in the areas of housing and farming. Stronger action, as called for by the UK Committee on Climate Change, should have been embedded in the climate change plan, but it was not and so we needed to take action through this legislation.
I will start with the amendments on farming in this group, all of which we accept. It is clear that, while countries such as France have forged ahead, creating ambitious agro-ecology action plans to cover emissions, restore biodiversity and support farm businesses, in Scotland we remain stuck in preserving the status quo. We know how to change, as we have excellent, if underfunded, research institutes. We can restore our soil by integrating trees into farm systems and we can expand organic production. We can design advice and financial support to drive the farming transition, while recognising the whole contribution that farm holdings can make to the nation’s carbon balance sheet.
On housing, draughty, cold homes are dragging down our efforts to cut household emissions, which need a fresh focus alongside a determination to end the disgrace of fuel poverty. A tolerable standard of energy performance certificate ratings of at least C must be the norm for the vast majority of households in Scotland. We can learn from mass retrofit approaches across Europe, as well as the targeted approaches to helping people in hard-to-heat properties to access advice and financial support.
We must also be pioneering and look to new frontiers in preserving and locking up carbon. Today, the IPCC has launched its new report on the oceans, demanding that future climate plans recognise and support those ecosystems in their role as carbon sinks, as well as their ability to help us to adapt to extreme weather. Kelp has never been more important.
Finally, we need clarity from the Government on its policies for fossil fuel extraction including unconventional oil and gas. There has been a welcome change in tone from the First Minister, but while we still wait for a legally watertight fracking ban to be delivered, the Government’s policies on fossil fuels cannot exist in a silo away from the climate plans. The need for transition has to be addressed in the heart of those plans, regardless of the level of ambition. I have therefore lodged amendments across a range of policy areas.
I move amendment 28.
I start with amendment 33, on an agricultural modernisation fund. It would introduce a requirement for the Scottish ministers to set out in the climate change plan their proposals and policies for such a fund to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on Scottish farms. This year’s programme for government set out the Scottish Government’s plans to consider such funding in the budget as part of a new agricultural transformation programme. Amendment 33 would ensure that policies and proposals for any future agricultural modernisation fund are considered in the next climate change plan. Taking forward policies and proposals for funding to support climate-friendly farming practices could contribute to on-farm carbon sequestration and emissions reductions. Funding is not at present available to support farmers and the up-front costs that are associated with reducing emissions from agriculture are often prohibitive.
Amendment 31 seeks to introduce a requirement for the Scottish ministers to set out in the climate change plan their proposals and policies for a whole-farm approach to emissions accounting on Scottish farms.
The amendment would require the climate change plan to set out the Scottish ministers’ proposals and policies regarding the establishment of a whole-farm approach to emissions accounting on Scottish farms and regarding the reduction of Scottish whole-farm greenhouse gas emissions through the use of, among other things, research, knowledge transfer and advice, and circular economy initiatives.
I am pleased to have cross-party support for amendment 31. However, I will not support amendments 31A and 31B, which are amendments to my amendment, as I believe that they would make the provision that will be inserted into the bill overly prescriptive.
Amendment 32 seeks to introduce a requirement on the Scottish ministers to set out in the climate change plan their proposals and policies on the potential for capture and storage of carbon when designating marine protected areas. The amendment would encourage the Scottish Government to take account of the potential for carbon sequestration alongside biodiversity concerns when designating MPAs.
We will support amendment 28, in the name of Mark Ruskell, which will oblige us to have a discussion on the future of our fossil fuel industry. That discussion needs to be had across the Parliament in relation to the climate emergency and a just transition. The amendment also highlights the Parliament’s position on onshore fracking.
We support amendment 29, in the name of Mark Ruskell, because research is needed to build on what we know about marine ecosystems. We need to mirror the journey from research to action that there has been on peatlands. In the climate change plan, we have teetered around providing real support for marine ecosystems and blue carbon. That should be a priority, and there should be more research into the issue.
On amendment 30
, in the name of Mark Ruskell, we are positive about the possibilities for measures on housing to reduce climate change emissions and about the multiple benefits that come to communities across Scotland, particularly rural communities, and to people who are in fuel poverty. Such measures will lead to a better quality of life for people and will support the UN right to a home, which in Scotland should of course be a warm home.
Amendment 31, in the name of Maurice Golden, which is supported by Mark Ruskell, builds on Mark Ruskell’s stage 2 amendment relating to whole-farm commitments and on work by colleagues on the committee, including John Scott—I send my good wishes to him—and Finlay Carson. It is an important amendment, because agriculture is one of the heaviest and most intractable emitters of greenhouse gases. The amendment would give cause for optimism, as it would clarify robustly the range of issues in relation to the way forward. It is valuable for those issues to be set out. The inclusion of support and advice mechanisms will help with a just transition for the land use and agriculture sector.
My amendments 31A and 31B are additions to amendment 31. They would add carbon sequestration and agroforestry to the list of areas through which Scottish farms can reduce whole-farm greenhouse gas emissions.
We will support amendment 31, as it proposes a worthwhile addition to the plan that will provide a more rounded approach to the understanding of farm emissions and ministers’ support for farmers in the climate emergency.
I will explain what I am advocating. Up until now, it has often been the case that farmers have been doing work on carbon sequestration and peatlands, but it has not been recognised or supported. It is important that amendment 31A is agreed to so that that work is recognised.
I find it disappointing that, if I understand it correctly, Maurice Golden is not going to support either my amendment on peatland restoration or my amendment on agroforestry, because those are ways forward through which farmers can contribute, and they can bring great benefits for farmers. My amendments are not overprescriptive. Peatland restoration and agroforestry are important methods of land management and they deserve attention. They should be included in the bill, and including them would bring further discussion and increase the common understanding of options for greener farming and working with nature.
Combining woodlands, tree planting and hedging for growing or grazing in agroforestry and seasonal shade and shelter as well as riparian planting to avoid erosion are only a few examples of the value that agroforestry can bring, and it should be at the heart of the bill given the climate emergency. I stress that, with the great deal of work that has been done by Nourish Scotland, my two amendments have been supported as strengthening additions to amendment 31.
The amendments in group 10 all seek to constrain the content of future climate change plans by setting out policies and proposals on specific matters. Parliament already has substantial input to the design of plans through scrutiny of draft versions. The amendments in the group run the risk of overly prescribing a set of policy areas, restricting the process of plan preparation and introducing a hierarchy of policy options, with those that are chosen to be in the bill taking precedence over all others. Concerns about that remain.
Nevertheless, I have reflected on the decisions that the committee made at stage 2 and on the on-going desire for more such amendments. As such, I have looked closely at each of the amendments in group 10 with a view to supporting them when possible.
I can accept amendment 28, which will require our future climate change plans to include our policies on onshore and offshore oil and gas.
I am sympathetic to amendments 29 and 32 on blue carbon. Our oceans are vital in mitigating climate change, and Parliament’s interest in the marine environment is welcome.
However, it would not be sensible for both amendments to be agreed to. I am of the view that Maurice Golden’s amendment 32 reflects the status of the emerging and evolving evidence base better than Mark Ruskell’s amendment 29. In particular, I ask colleagues to remember that international scientific guidelines on measurement of carbon storage in marine environments do not yet support its being included in national greenhouse gas inventories.
My understanding is that there is a vital focus on planning for and monitoring marine protected areas in Maurice Golden’s amendment 32, whereas Mark Ruskell’s amendment 29 is more widely drawn and highlights the whole marine environment and the opportunities there. That is why Scottish Labour will support both amendments.
I am glad that Claudia Beamish mentioned the reference to marine protected areas in amendment 25, because it is welcome. If the MPA network needs to be adapted in the future, it is right that potential sequestration of carbon be a material consideration in site selection, designation and management. I urge members to support amendment 32 and to reject amendment 29.
I can accept amendment 30, which will require our climate change plans to set out measures that are linked to a majority of homes achieving energy performance certificate ratings of C or above, where practical, by the end of the plan period. The CCC has been clear that the Scottish Government has already put forward a strong plan for creating more energy efficient homes. We have also accepted the committee’s recommendation on heat decarbonisation, and we will publish a heat decarbonisation policy statement in the summer of 2020. We are currently developing our plan to ensure that any new build homes that are consented from 2024 will be required to use renewable or low-carbon heat.
The Scottish Government’s policy position is that, by 2040, our buildings will be warmer, greener and more efficient, so we will continue our strong delivery approach to achieving those goals as a key part of achieving net zero emissions by 2045 across Scotland’s economy as a whole. However, I make it clear that all those who support amendment 30 must also support any future necessary measures to compel homeowners to invest in the energy efficiency of their homes.
I can also accept amendment 31, and amendments 31A and 31B, on establishment of a whole-farm approach to emissions accounting. I must say, however, that I remain sceptical that legislation will deliver the best outcomes in that space. We are all eager to give proper recognition and credit to Scotland’s farmers and land managers for the wide range of activities that they undertake to tackle climate change. We are already developing a complementary reporting system of emissions accounting on a whole-farm basis. Amendment 31 would mean that such reporting would happen only every five years, with each new climate change plan. I am not sure that that is quite what stakeholders are looking for, and the Government would look to report rather more frequently than that.
Furthermore, as discussed at stage 2, members must understand that any such complementary accounting scheme cannot replace the greenhouse gas inventory, which is determined by international classifications.
Finally in group 10, I can also accept amendment 33, which is on an agricultural modernisation fund. Although there is a slight danger that that might prove to be too prescriptive in a bill that requires reporting to continue until 2045, we are content to factor that into development of the existing commitment to a long-term agricultural transformation programme, which was set out in the programme for government.
I am sensing a good amount of consensus in many areas. I reassure the cabinet secretary and her officials that my amendments in the group are not about constraining the content of climate change plans, but about filling the very obvious gaps that have existed for years. The committee has reflected on them and is concerned that the Government has not filled them.
There is good consensus on the amendments on agriculture, particularly around the fact that our farms are a solution to climate change. We often look at them as if they are a problem, or as though farms have emissions problems, but there are also fantastic opportunities around carbon sequestration. A whole-farm approach to measuring carbon accounting is important. John Scott is not here today; his contribution to the issue in committee has been very strong.
On blue carbon and amendment 32, I am concerned that, as an alternative to my amendment 29, it focuses almost entirely on MPAs and the MPA designation process. Our kelp forests and blue carbon resources exist all around the coast of Scotland and in our seas; they are not restricted to MPAs, so I am concerned about supporting amendment 32. If it was combined with a broader strategic approach, as I propose in amendment 29, I would accept it, but not on its own. Claudia Beamish is nodding at that. The definition in amendment 32 is far too constrained.
On oil and gas, it is significant that the Labour Party and the SNP support the start of a discussion about oil and gas in the context of climate change in the climate change plan. That is not to build policies into the climate change plan for the future at this point, but to acknowledge that we need to start somewhere with the discussion. It is about the just transition, the future of that industry and taking communities with us in that transition. I welcome that.
On housing, I take the cabinet secretary’s point on board. If we are serious about delivering homes that are EPC rated C or better, there is a wider issue about budgets that will, of course, concern all parties.
The Presiding Officer:
The result of the division is: For 34, Against 87, Abstentions 0.
Amendment 29 disagreed to.
Amendment 6 moved—[Claudia Beamish]—and agreed to.
Amendment 30 moved—[Mark Ruskell]—and agreed to.
Amendment 31 moved—[Maurice Golden].
Amendment 31A moved—[Claudia Beamish].
The question is, that amendment 31A be agreed to. Are we agreed?
The Presiding Officer:
The result of the division is: For 114, Against 7,
Amendment 32 agreed to.
Amendment 33 moved—[Maurice Golden]—and agreed to.
Amendment 34 moved—[Mark Ruskell]—and agreed to.
I have four amendments in this group designed to embed the just transition into the core of the bill, and I will speak to them shortly.
In Scottish Labour’s opinion, there is a glaring oversight in the bill in the exclusion of a statutory just transition commission.
We are embarking on a pathway to reach net zero emissions by 2045 at the latest, which is a hugely positive shift but one that will require change in all areas of life—for the individual, the worker, communities and businesses across all sectors.
That shift must benefit from the guidance of people in those industries and of those with relevant experience and expertise, and these questions of justice must be asked multiple times throughout the shift and beyond.
In Scottish Labour’s view, it is nonsensical that the Scottish Government thinks that its commission, through its membership, can provide the answers within three years. It is worrying, when it is so important to so many, that the Scottish Government will not protect its commission with legislation to shield it from any future Government or ministerial change. It is baffling that the cabinet secretary has disregarded that as too heavy, cumbersome and time consuming, when we are looking at such a long-term issue as the climate emergency. It is disappointing that, despite its warm words about a climate emergency, the Scottish Government refused to give this bill a financial resolution, thereby limiting the spend significantly.
That has meant that I have been unable to bring my proposals for a statutory commission to a vote at stage 3. I see the Scottish Government’s rejection of a statutory commission as a fundamental misunderstanding of the concerns of workers, communities and businesses.
I turn to the amendments that I have been able to lodge within the confines of the bill’s somewhat limited scope in this area.
Amendment 8 includes further information relevant to the just transition within climate change plans, requiring ministers to set out how the policies will affect “different regions of Scotland”, the employment in those regions and sectors of the economy. It also requires ministers to set out how they will support
“the workforce, employers and communities in these sectors and regions.”
Amendment 7 is a minor consequential amendment.
Amendment 35 includes specific
“reference to the just transition principles” in the preparation of the plan, which is the section of the bill in which the consideration of the principles will be most significant. The setting of domestic policies to deliver those targets must be influenced by social justice.
Amendment 37 adds trade unions to those persons with whom the Scottish ministers must develop and maintain social consensus through engagement.
The existing list includes workers, communities, NGOs, representatives of business and industry interests and appropriate others. The just transition movement was born from the trade unions, so the fact that they were not on that list is a glaring omission, and I hope that members will support the amendment, and the others in the group.
These four amendments are important additions, and I am glad that they have received the backing of not only a number of NGOs but NFUS, in particular, as securing a just transition will be important for farmers, who potentially have a great role to play in solving the climate challenges, as custodians of our land who operate in an area—agriculture—that is one of the heaviest emitters.
However, I know that there will be many who will be disappointed that the just transition commission cannot be put on a statutory footing, not least the just transition partnership of NGOs, unions and the Scottish Trades Union Congress itself, all of which have done a lot of work towards putting the commission on a long-term and properly resourced statutory footing, for the benefit of the people of Scotland.
I move amendment 35.
I have been pleased to work with Claudia Beamish on our attempts to embed the just transition principles in the bill at stage 2 and to establish a statutory commission. I share her frustration, and I will be returning to that issue in the debate that we will have after the stage 3 amendment phase.
The amendments in this group that have been agreed with the Government go a little way to ensuring that climate change is recognised in the climate plans. My amendment in this group, amendment 36, ensures that the reporting must also spell out how communities, workers and employers are being assisted in that transition. It is a small improvement, but I hope that it is a step towards the much wider approach to transition that is needed and the work that is needed on the ground to plan and progress the changes that are profound but also just.
Earlier, I talked about the importance of taking people with us as we seek to make the changes that we need in order to deliver our climate change ambitions. That is true in relation to the targets that we set and it underpins the case for establishing a citizens assembly. It is very much central to the concept of ensuring a just transition. Achieving net zero emissions by 2045 and achieving the interim target that we have now set for 2030 will be enormously challenging and will require significant changes in behaviour, practice and the way in which our overall economy functions. Recognising that and finding ways of mitigating the impacts where possible, allowing those who are directly affected an opportunity to shape the way in which that change happens, will be essential.
The amendments in this group are helpful in that respect, further fleshing out what a just transition should look like. I am particularly pleased to see amendment 8 in Claudia Beamish’s name, as it seeks to break down the process to a more regional and sectoral level, recognising that the effect of those changes will not be felt uniformly across the board.
I absolutely share the frustration of Claudia Beamish and Mark Ruskell about the failure to make progress on embedding the just transition commission in statute.
I was not anticipating speaking to the amendments that have been lodged. The amendments in this group seek to further strengthen the emphasis on the just transition approach that is at the heart of our climate change plans. I am grateful to Claudia Beamish and Mark Ruskell for their constructive engagement with the Government over the summer to adapt their stage 2 amendments on these matters into a form that will better fit with the wider bill framework.
The amendments build usefully on the Government’s amendments at stage 2, which added to the bill a set of just transition principles that ministers must have regard to when preparing climate change plans. Those plans must also then set out how the principles have been taken into account. The principles outline the importance of taking action to reduce Scottish emissions in a way that supports environmentally and socially sustainable jobs; supports low-carbon investment and infrastructure; develops and maintains social consensus through engagement with workers, communities, non-governmental organisations, representatives of the interests of business and industry and others; creates decent, fair and high-value work in a way that does not negatively affect the current workforce and the overall economy; and contributes to resource-efficient and sustainable economic approaches that help to address inequality and poverty.
Amendment 37 adds trade unions to the bodies that must be engaged as part of those principles. That would have been the case anyway, and I am happy to support the change to the bill.
Amendment 8 will ensure that existing assessments of the impacts of climate change plans on sectors of the economy will include regional dimensions, and employment in particular. The amendment also ensures that plans must include policies and proposals to support workforces, employers and communities through the transition to net zero emissions.
Amendment 36 ensures that such measures are also within the scope of the sector-by-sector annual monitoring reports on progress on delivering a plan.
All those amendments represent sound additions to the statutory framework.
I urge Claudia Beamish not to press her amendment 35, however. It seeks to require the specific element of a plan relating to assessing impacts on the economy to be prepared with reference to the just transition principles. My objection to amendment 35 is purely technical. I hope that I have been clear that I see the just transition principles as firmly underpinning climate change plans. However, the bill already requires that ministers take into account the just transition principles when preparing all aspects of climate change plans and that they set out how they have done so. It is those duties that give substance to the principles. As such, amendment 35 would be largely duplicative of the existing provisions and therefore does not represent good legal practice.
I encourage Claudia Beamish not to press amendment 35, for those strong technical reasons. If she does so, however, I will not oppose it.
As regards the amendment that is not before us, on putting a just transition commission into a statutory framework, I remind everybody that there is a just transition commission, which has been working hard over the past year and will continue to work hard. I look forward to the commission’s report when it comes.
I have listened with care to what the cabinet secretary has said, but I am disappointed that she has not given a further explanation as to why a long-term, statutory and properly resourced just transition commission is not something that the Scottish Government can support. Net zero will be some time in the coming in the climate emergency. Mark Ruskell and Liam McArthur have also highlighted that point, and I am perplexed and bewildered as to why the cabinet secretary said what she did on the matter.
Perhaps the Scottish Government might reconsider the matter when the present commission presents its report. I understand that, at that point, it will not be necessary to have primary legislation in order to have a just transition commission in law. We need to have a robust, prioritised commission as we move, in the climate emergency, to a better way of working and a better way of life for workers and communities—I also note what Liam McArthur has said about the regions.
The just transition principles are more clearly laid out in the bill. I appreciate the work that we did with the cabinet secretary on that over the summer. I will be pressing amendment 35, however, and I make no apology for that, as it is very important that the just transition principles are enshrined, particularly in relation to the climate change plan—I have not been convinced by what the cabinet secretary said on that.
A just transition must be at the heart of the bill and at the heart of our plans for the future. All policies must be assessed against the effects that the climate change plans will have on our communities, workers and individuals, particularly those on lower incomes. I am glad that there is considerable support for the proposals in that regard across the chamber.
Amendment 35 agreed to.
Amendments 7 to 11 moved—[Claudia Beamish]—and agreed to.
Amendment 12 moved—[Claudia Beamish].
Amendment 12A moved—[Claudia Beamish].
The Presiding Officer:
The result of the division is: For 27, Against 92, Abstentions 0.
Amendment 14A disagreed to.
Amendment 14 agreed to.
Amendment 15 relates to the Scottish Government’s infrastructure investment plans. It emerged thanks to discussion involving Mark Ruskell, the cabinet secretary and me following our amendments at stage 2.
Infrastructure investments that are made from the public purse need to be fit for the future and for the public good. In the context of the climate emergency, that public good must be in alignment with emissions reductions efforts. Amendment 15 goes some way to achieving that by requiring ministers to set out an assessment of how the infrastructure investment plan will contribute to our targets.
I am pleased that that works in conjunction with my amendments in the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019, which require an assessment of the lifecycle of emissions of major developments to give a much clearer picture of emissions resulting from their construction, usage and—I stress—decommissioning.
There is further work to be done to ensure the future proofing of our public infrastructure, but I hope that members will support amendment 15, which will give a better understanding of the strategic and financial decisions that are made.
I move amendment 15.
I had hoped that we would have made greater progress on financial budgeting in the bill. At stage 2, we discussed the imperative of setting a clear target to shift infrastructure spend from high-carbon to low-carbon infrastructure, so that we lock out, rather than lock in, emissions for decades to come. Sadly, we are no further forward on that in the bill, but I welcome the fact that the Government is commissioning work to flesh out methodology for assessing high-carbon and low-carbon infrastructure projects and, crucially, the emissions that are generated from the use of such infrastructure. Amendment 15, which will help to reveal the climate impact of the infrastructure investment plans, is a welcome baby step forward, but there is still much work to do in this area.
I am content to support amendment 15 as a pragmatic measure to improve reporting arrangements around how Scottish budgets support emissions reductions. However, the amendment should be seen as fitting into a wider body of work on these important matters. The Scottish Government has placed tackling climate change at the heart of the programme for government, and it will likewise be central to the upcoming spending review and budget.
A range of stage 2 amendments were lodged regarding the relationship between budget information and climate change action. I met Green and Labour MSPs over the summer to discuss matters in which it is recognised that there is scope for improvement. As a result of those discussions, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work and I have offered a review of climate change information in the budget. Such a review will necessarily take some time in order to be effective, but we expect it to be able to inform the 2020-21 budget.
I have also offered to commission programmes of research to better understand how capital expenditure can be assessed in relation to emissions impacts and how information on the emissions impacts of all relevant policies is currently being identified and communicated through existing statutory impact assessment processes. Those review and research programmes will help to identify steps to deliver improvements in cross-portfolio processes and transparency.
The first step—gathering and reviewing evidence—is the right one to take. There are real and very challenging issues of methodology that need to be resolved before we can determine the best reporting requirements.
In the meantime, I am content to support amendment 15, on the emissions impacts of the Scottish Government’s infrastructure investment plans. The amendment recognises the particular importance of strategic capital investment decisions for Scotland’s journey to net zero emissions, but it does so in a way that is not overly prescriptive, given the current uncertainties around methodologies for assessing such impacts.
I welcome Mark Ruskell’s comments about our not having gone far enough. I also welcome the cabinet secretary’s comments and her commitment to the review to inform the budget and the review of assessment. I am sure that the two reviews that she highlighted will take us forward to future budgets. As she highlighted, strategic capital investment issues are profoundly important as we tackle the climate emergency.
Amendment 15 agreed to.
The Presiding Officer:
That concludes consideration of amendments.
At this point in proceedings, I am required under standing orders to decide whether, in my view, any provision of the bill relates to a protected subject matter; that is, whether it would modify the electoral system or franchise for Scottish parliamentary elections. In my opinion, the bill would not do so, so it does not require a supermajority to be passed at stage 3.
I had hoped that we would be well ahead of time, but we have lost time again, so there will be a short suspension.
16:59 Meeting suspended.
17:10 On resuming—