Activists and opposition parties make final demands for more ambitious #ClimateBill ahead of crucial vote

The Scottish Greens have said they will not support the legislation unless it commits to more ambitious emissions targets

  • Less than 24 hours before the Scottish Government’s Climate Bill reaches its Stage 3 vote, the Scottish Greens, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have all demanded more ambitious targets on the reduction of carbon emissions
  • Activists rally outside of Holyrood to read key sections of the IPCC’s 2018 special report, which argues that the world has only ten years to prevent irreversible climate breakdown
  • Climate change secretary Roseanna Cunningham responds that the targets contained within the bill “more than meet” with recommendations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT’S Climate Bill will face strong opposition when it comes to a vote tomorrow, with the Scottish Greens, Scottish Labour and the Scottish Liberal Democrats all unlikely to support the legislation without significant last-minute changes.

Less than a week after thousands across Scotland and millions across the world took to the streets to demand more ambitious action on climate change, any hope for the flagship Scottish Government bill has been stymied by the Scottish Greens’ confirmation that they will not back the legislation during tomorrow’s debate and vote, unless it commits to a greater reduction in carbon emissions. It is also widely expected that Labour and the Lib Dems will not provide their support.

The Scottish Greens, along with the campaign organisations Stop Climate Chaos and Friends of the Earth Scotland, have called for the Climate Bill to commit to an 80 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, and will table an amendment to that end. A separate amendment from Labour proposes a 75 per cent reduction over the same timescale.

The Bill currently proposes a 70 per cent cut in emissions by 2030, 90 per cent by 2040, and zero carbon by 2045.

Commenting, Mark Ruskell, Scottish Greens climate spokesperson, said: “Climate scientists have been clear that we have just a decade to turn this around. Championing eye-catching targets that won’t bite for decades while continuing to spend millions on new motorways and back maximum extraction of fossil fuels just won’t cut it anymore.

READ MORE: Raise the ambition of Climate Change Bill following IPCC report, Scottish environmentalists say

“The most important part of this Bill is the 2030 target because it will have a direct impact on what we do now, and because scientific evidence tells us the next ten years are absolutely crucial.

“Talk of ‘world-leading targets’ is cheap. If Scotland is to lead it needs to be bolder. Look at Finland, which has pledged to be completely carbon neutral by 2035. That’s what happens when Greens are in government.

“Unless the SNP listens to young people and climate scientists and uses this Bill to provoke transformative action now by adopting an 80 per cent target by 2030, Scottish Greens cannot in all good conscience back the Climate Bill.”

The Scottish Greens emphasis on significant action over the coming decade echoed warnings from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last year, which advised that the world has only ten years to prevent irreversible climate breakdown.

This was further highlighted today when activists, politicians and school strikers assembled outside of the Scottish Parliament to read key sections of the IPCC’s landmark 2018 report ‘Global Warming of 1.5°C’, in an effort to increase pressure on MSPs to demand further ambition from the climate bill.

READ MORE: MSPs must take action as climate change wreaks havoc, say environmental campaigners

1.5 Degrees Live member Patrick Dunne said: “This is the most important time for holding this bill and the government to account for their commitment to a liveable and globally just future. We are doing this to remind politicians about the huge impact and importance of their decisions. We will be stating that ‘we have read the science, have you?”

Caroline Rance from Stop Climate Chaos Scotland added: “Climate science must guide MSPs when they cast their final vote on the new climate law. They must meet the demands of the IPCC report and commit to more urgent action to bring down dangerous climate emissions within the next decade.

“Wednesday’s vote is the final chance for this Scottish Parliament to ramp up their ambition and put targets into law that reflect the urgency of the Climate Emergency. This means setting a target to reduce climate emissions by 80 per cent by 2030 and setting out coherent and immediate policy changes to deliver those reductions – especially in how we heat our homes, travel around and grow the food we eat.

“Action taken in the next ten years is crucial because the climate crisis is happening now. It will take a united effort from all political parties to secure the changes required.”

The Holyrood demonstration follows a World Meteorological Organisation report for the ongoing UN Climate Summit, which found that the five-year period ending in 2019 is on track to be the hottest five-year period on record, as well as revealing the continued decrease of sea ice and the acceleration of sea-level rise.

Also commenting, Scottish Labour's climate change spokesperson Claudia Beamish MSP today said: “It has been humbling and inspiring to see the growth of the climate strike and Extinction Rebellion movements over the last year, and I commend every single person that raised their voice to defend our very future. Between their voices and the vast evidence proving this is a climate emergency, we have no excuses.

“Climate science must guide MSPs when they cast their final vote on the new climate law. They must meet the demands of the IPCC report and commit to more urgent action.” Caroline Rance, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland

"Scottish Labour is fighting for a Climate Change Act with climate justice at its core. The Scottish Government has recognised that Scotland must take responsibility for its impacts on the global south. Scottish Labour and NGOs have pushed the government to recognise this in the principles of the Bill.”

Beamish continued: "That this Bill will not include Scottish Labour’s and the Just Transition Partnership’s vision and detailed proposals for a statutory, independent, and long term Just Transition Commission is an immense disappointment. 

"This shows the SNP Government have a fundamental misunderstanding of the concerns of workers and communities and the long term planning needed across the sectors.

"But we must strengthen the 2030 target to set us on the right path for the next crucial decade. This would recognise the science of the need for keeping below 1.5 degrees and the need for rapid transformational change.”

READ MORE: #GlobalClimateStrike: Scotland joins voices from around the world

Writing in the Scotsman today, Friends of the Earth Scotland director expressed pessimism over the likelihood of the climate bill being defeated or the amendments for more radical targets adopted: “Three parties will vote for this [Labour’s amendment on a 75 per cent reduction in carbon emissions] but it seems likely that the SNP and Tories will defeat it.”

Responding to critics, climate change secretary Roseanna Cunningham has defended the Scottish Government’s current 70 per cent target on emissions, saying it “more than meets what the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] says is needed globally to prevent warming of more than 1.5 degrees.”

Cunningham continued: “We are following the independent advice from our statutory advisor on the most ambitious, credible and responsible targets.

“All of society have important contributions to make. We have begun the discussion through the Big Climate Conversations and are committed to continuing that dialogue as we move forward together to make lasting change.”

Picture courtesy of Magnus Hagdorn

COMMONSPACE FORUM 26 SEPTEMBER: Indyref At 5