Environmental Targets (Impact of Covid-19)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 4th June 2020.

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Photo of Maurice Golden Maurice Golden Conservative

3. To ask the Scottish Government when a review will be carried out on the impact that the Covid-19 outbreak has had on it meeting its environmental targets. (S5O-04382)

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government has, of course, set many targets to encourage progress in Scotland on many different aspects of environmental protection and climate change mitigation. To understand the full impact of the Covid-19 crisis on those targets, we will continue to review them as part of on-going monitoring.

Photo of Maurice Golden Maurice Golden Conservative

A litany of environmental targets were missed or were on track to fail before the coronavirus. Now, understandably, a host of measures face delays, but nonetheless the deposit return scheme will go ahead. Can the cabinet secretary guarantee that every vending machine for the DRS will be built here in Scotland?

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

I will not make that kind of global guarantee. We are actively discussing the next steps in the progress on the DRS, and discussions are taking place on the setting up of the scheme administrator. A lot of the conversations that the member might be interested in having about the DRS will require the active involvement of the scheme administrator when it is finally set up.

The Presiding Officer:

We have supplementary questions from Sarah Boyack and Richard Lyle.

Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour

I am keen to know the cabinet secretary’s response to the plans made by more than 80 civil society organisations that want the Scottish Government to invest in green recovery and a wellbeing economy as we come out of Covid-19, so that we can transform society and the economy to meet the first of our new climate emissions targets while greatly enhancing biodiversity and our environment.

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

I reassure Sarah Boyack that that is an active conversation across almost all ministerial portfolios and in the economic recovery group, which is chaired by Benny Higgins. I have also set up a revised group, which we are calling the sustainable advisory group and which is principally targeting the promises that we made to Parliament about updating our climate change plan in the light of the 2030 targets.

That work is all on-going.

We welcome the contributions that are beginning to emerge across society. I am grateful that they are emerging, and I try to keep abreast of them as far as possible. I hope that we will see even more contributions. We all agree that we must build an economic recovery that looks better than where we were before.

Photo of Richard Lyle Richard Lyle Scottish National Party

We have seen increased rates of walking and cycling in recent months, coupled with improved air quality in our towns and cities. What investment is the Scottish Government making, as part of its response to the pandemic, to encourage people to use sustainable forms of transport beyond the Covid outbreak?

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government has been very clear in its support for sustainable travel. I am certain that Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, would want me to remind the member of the £10 million for the spaces for people programme. That money is funding pop-up cycle lanes and wider pavements to provide safe infrastructure for walking and cycling at this time, and that initial investment has now been tripled to £30 million.

That is an immediate commitment to the immediate scenario, and i t sits alongside the broader national transport strategy, which continues to provide guiding principles for transport. Those principles include stressing the importance of walking, wheeling and cycling, and they will form part of Scotland’s route map out of Covid-19.

Transport will be a complicated area in our work towards a green economic recovery. I am nervous about a sudden rush back to cars by people who—[

Temporary loss of sound.

]—transport. We must think across all forms of transport to ensure that we continue to have the emptier roads and cleaner air that we currently enjoy.