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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 Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour

I need to get on.

I was struck by the cabinet secretary’s comments in her opening speech. Through collective work on the part of business, Government and all the rest of us, emissions have been lowered, but there are key areas that need to be activated. However, the cabinet secretary was right to highlight that there has been economic progress in the past decade, and we need to look to the next period of economic progress. However, we also need to add in a requirement that our communities not be left behind in that process. If there is one thing that I would like us to focus on more, it is how we do that. Heating our homes, making them more energy efficient through renewable low-carbon technology and using that process to create real, decently paid jobs as well as eliminating fuel poverty is something that was described as a triple-win by Citizens Advice Scotland when it lobbied us today.

We also need to re-engineer our communities to deliver low-carbon, affordable and healthy active travel choices and to make that approach apply right across our cities, towns and villages—it needs to be taken right across the country. There must be better buses and more affordable and reliable trains. We need to focus on all those issues, not only on the target, although the target will help to drive us.

We must use our land to better effect, by investing in tree planting and sustainable flood management and by providing support for our farmers as they transition to low-carbon food production and land stewardship.

No one has mentioned urban food production today, but that must not be missed out when we are thinking about low-carbon communities. That needs to be focused on, too, and it can be empowering.

There is agreement across the chamber that we have a climate emergency. We face not global warming or climate change that we can get around to tackling at some point, but a climate emergency that we must tackle now. Even in the past year, lives have been lost and climate refugees have been created. Scotland will need to step up to the plate. Colleagues have, rightly, quoted from today’s IPCC report and from the work of the UKCCC.

The bill is important, but it is not the end. It is the start of the next push to ensure that we deliver in terms of climate change. We have to think about how we accelerate our investment in climate resilience as well as climate change. We have even had fires this year in Scotland. It is unthinkable that places such as Scotland and Siberia should have fires that go out of control. We are in an emergency.

There is a powerful call to action today. Last week, in Edinburgh, 20,000 young people marched in the city. Across the globe, we have seen the next generation doing likewise. They are challenging us. The placard that I remember from the march in Edinburgh said, “You will die of old age. We will die of climate change.” We need to act now and we need to act together. We need to compete with one another to ensure that we push one another further, but we must also sometimes work together.

I particularly want to thank the climate change coalition in Scotland, all its members, our constituents and members of the public, and I also want to thank the committee—