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More urgency needed to limit rising temperatures, Scottish committee says

Words: Laura Edgar
Climate change / Shutterstock_86013754

The Scottish Government’s ambition to tackle climate change is welcome, but greater urgency is required to stop global temperatures rising to dangerous levels, a Scottish Parliament committee has said.

The Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill includes a target to reduce all greenhouse gases by 90 per cent by 2050. Interim targets include a 66 per cent reduction by 2030 and a 78 per cent reduction by 2040.

The Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee believe a 90 per cent reduction target is "stretching and challenging" while a net-zero target will present further challenges but "there are likely to be great opportunities". For the committee, the benefits and cost savings of early action outweigh the costs of the effects of climate change.

Convener of the committee Gillian Martin said: "There is no precedent in human history for the speed and scale of change needed to tackle climate change and reduce harmful emissions. We want to see greater urgency and action across all parts of government, across the wider public and private sectors and by individuals, to deliver the transformational change needed to reach our targets.

“We’ve all seen the catastrophic damage caused by climate change all around the world, and the threat this has on people’s lives, wildlife and our natural environment. That’s why we’ve called for the bill to reflect the most ambitious targets possible, to ensure future generations inherit a world that is healthy and sustainable.”

The committee’s recommendations include:

  • Clarity is needed on the temperature limit that the bill is contributing to and seeking to achieve. The committee recommends this should be 1.5°C and should reflect the most ambitious scenario of the forthcoming advice of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).
  • There should be a presumption against lowering targets.
  • Further consideration should be given to setting sector specific targets within the bill.
  • The Scottish Government must give an explanation if it acts contrary to advice from the CCC.
  • The Scottish Government should consider incorporating adaptation planning into the climate change plans to provide a comprehensive overview of Scotland's approach to tackling both prevention and adaptation.

Caroline Rance, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland and member of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, commented: “Climate change is the most urgent and pressing crisis facing the world and Scotland’s targets for cutting emissions must reflect our commitment to meeting that challenge. It is welcome to hear the committee emphasising the need for urgency across society to ensure that Scotland creates the positive, transformational change required to deliver our fair share of international effort.

“MSPs must now use the parliamentary process to increase the 2030 target and lay out the concrete measures that will cut climate emissions from transport, housing and food production over the next 10 years."

Dr Geraldine Hill, advocacy manager at SCIAF and member of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, added: “Our response to climate change must be rooted in climate justice and a transition to a zero-carbon economy that’s fair to those currently working in sectors like oil and gas. Scotland should listen to the climate science telling us to increase our efforts, to the people at the frontline enduring the impacts of a changing climate, and increasingly, to the young people around the world who are demanding we do more.”

The report can be found here on the Scottish Parliament website.

Image credit | Shutterstock