Climate Change and the Environment Scotland (Feb 2020)

Following a recent report from the UK Committee on Climate Change, the Scottish Government has set an aim to achieve net-zero emissions here in Scotland by 2045. I believe progress in reducing emissions in Scotland will only be achieved if it is rooted in an evidence-based approach, and I wish to assure you that my MSP Colleagues will continue to hold the Scottish Government to account in line with the advice that it has received.

Scotland has welcomingly already seen a 49 per cent overall emissions reduction, which has largely been driven by a 69 per cent emissions cut in the energy sector and a 73 per cent cut in the waste sector. However, that success masks a lack of progress in other areas, such as the housing sector, where emissions are down by only 21 per cent, or transport, where they are down by just 3 per cent.

Transport emissions - Targets have been set to phase out petrol and diesel cars and reduce sectoral emissions by 37 per cent by 2032. That ambition is laudable but, with just 1 per cent of Scotland’s 2.9 million cars currently being electric, there is a question of feasibility. My MSP colleagues have suggested that to kick-start progress, where possible, electric vehicles should be used as the default in all public procurement by 2027.

Nature recovery – In 2017, my MSP colleagues published a comprehensive position paper on the environment and climate change which set out ambitious plans across seven key areas, including restoring Scotland’s biodiversity. We need to set aside the notion that missed targets and slipping deadlines are something simply to be accepted, and instead adopt an approach that will enhance our wild lands, protect our fragile ecosystems and restore our forested and upland landscapes.

While the Scottish Government has strong ambitions to tackle this issue it is also important that it has costed solutions. I want Scotland to be one of the lead nations worldwide in achieving net zero. Although I understand concerns about the difficulties and cost of delivering on that ambition, I am excited by the opportunities that it may offer to our scientific and business development communities.