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Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 25th September 2019.

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Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

We are 10 years on from the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. Stewart Stevenson, who was the minister who took the Climate Change (Scotland) Bill through the Parliament then, has reminded me that stage 3 for that bill took a morning and an afternoon. I hope that members are pleased that stage 3 was considerably slimmer this time round.

The 2009 act established Scotland as a world leader in tackling climate change, and we continue to be a world leader because of the effective and rigorous framework that the act created. Scotland is still the only country in the world to set legally binding annual targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and we were the first country to include in our targets a fair share of the emissions from international aviation and shipping.

Since 2009, three climate change plans have been brought forward. Some annual targets have been met and some missed, but—crucially—Scotland’s emissions are down by 47 per cent from the 1990 baseline. We are already almost halfway to reaching net zero emissions. Equally important, that progress has been achieved while we grew the economy and increased employment and productivity.

The bill makes the 2009 act stronger and more transparent. Crucially, it increases the ambition of Scotland’s targets. Last year’s special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, on global warming of 1.5°, made clear that the world is now facing a climate emergency. That is recognised not only by the scientists but by the large numbers of citizens, here in Scotland and across the world, who have taken to the streets to demand more action and greater ambition.

In light of the IPCC’s report, the Scottish Government commissioned expert advice on targets from the independent advisory body mandated by this Parliament. The Committee on Climate Change recommended that Scotland set 2045 as the target year to reach net zero emissions of all greenhouse gases. The CCC also recommended that we increase our interim emissions reduction targets for 2030 and 2040 to 70 per cent and 90 per cent respectively. The CCC advised that those targets represent the “highest possible ambition” that is called for under the Paris agreement and are a fair contribution towards what is needed globally to limit warming to 1.5°. I immediately lodged amendments at stage 2 to give effect to the CCC’s recommendations.

Today, we have committed to going even further and adopting a target of a 75 per cent reduction in Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. I have set out my reasons for that approach. It is clear that now is the time for even greater ambition in tackling the world’s climate emergency, and that signals matter. I will look forward to receiving further, more detailed, advice from the CCC next year on the 2030 target.

At stage 2, we accepted a large number of the recommendations that the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee made in its reports at stage 1 and stage 2, which had the effect of, among other things, directly linking Scotland’s fair and safe emissions budget to the global temperature goal that is set out in the Paris agreement; tightening the safeguards around any potential lowering of target levels in future; clarifying and strengthening the CCC’s role in the climate change plan process; and requiring that climate change plans include estimates of the costs and benefits of the policies to reduce emissions.

Over the summer, we worked with colleagues on a cross-party basis to bring back amendments from stage 2 for discussion today, including amendments that will embed sustainable development considerations throughout the legislation and place climate justice at the heart of climate change plans; strengthen the reporting duties around consumption-based emissions; and ensure that the Scottish Government’s strategic infrastructure investment plans are assessed against emissions targets. Wherever possible, the Government has made every effort to accept Opposition proposals.