“Today, as First Minister of Scotland, I am declaring that there is a climate emergency.” Nicola Sturgeon (28/04/2019)
Environmental campaigners have reacted to the First Minister of Scotland’s declaration of a ‘climate emergency’ at the SNP Conference.
Friends of the Earth Scotland welcomed the declaration but made clear that it must be backed by urgent action to cut climate pollution immediately.
Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland said:
“We have known for years that there is a climate emergency, what we need now is an emergency response.
“The declaration of a Climate Emergency is very welcome. People are dying and livelihoods are being destroyed, and the world is heading for catastrophe if we do not get a grip on climate emissions. Emergency is exactly the right word.
“In an emergency you need to take urgent action on fixing the problem, to bring together the people who can make a difference and to immediately stop doing the things that make the crisis worse. The Scottish Government have yet to spell out how they will behave differently now that they acknowledge that there is a Climate Emergency underway.”
On March 27th 2019 the Scottish Greens led a Climate Emergency debate in The Scottish Parliament: “That the Parliament recognises that the world is entering a climate emergency “.
Opening the debate Alison Johnstone MSP, Scottish Greens said:
“I know that that is not easy to hear, but I say it to make it clear that the climate emergency is already on our doorstep, so it is the duty of everyone in this Parliament to support actions that will avoid climate breakdown.”
The SNP, Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats all voted against the Climate Emergency motion with concern over the effects on the fossil fuel industries dominating their objections.
Stewart Stevenson MSP, SNP asked:
“Does Alison Johnstone accept that extracting oil and gas has no impact whatsoever on the climate? It is what we do with them after we have extracted them that matters. Until we have found substitutes for oil and gas in our chemical industries, we cannot throw away the economic opportunity that they provide.”
And his point was supported by the Conservative Liam Kerr, MSP who said:
“How does Alison Johnstone propose to replace the 135,000 jobs and £9.2 billion that the offshore oil and gas industry contributes to the economy?”
The Scottish Greens again repeated calls for an outright ban on fracking in Scotland.
Attacked for wanting an ending to oil and gas production in Scotland’s waters Mark Ruskell MSP, Scottish Greens, argued that their proposals were not to end production ‘tomorrow’ which many MSPs from opposing parties had misinterpreted.
Mark Ruskell said:
“It is very disappointing that all parties in the chamber have sought in their amendments to delete the line in the Green motion about “maximum economic recovery”. As much as I have a huge amount of respect for Gillian Martin, Liam McArthur and others, I think that there is an element of scaremongering here.
“Nobody is saying that the North Sea oil and gas industry needs to shut tomorrow. However, there is an uncomfortable truth here that we need to acknowledge, which is that the majority of fossil fuels need to be left in the ground. We cannot have an energy policy that is based on simply having more of everything.”
Despite these explanations the motion was defeated with only the Scottish Greens voting for it.
You can watch the debate here:
Since the Climate Emergency debate in the Scottish Parliament many cities have seen large protest marches by the Extinction Rebellion. Devastating natural events, driven by climate change, have wreaked havoc on many parts of the world.
Young activist Greta Thunberg has been feted by world leaders for her environmental campaigning and met with many UK MPs on her visit recently.
He who cannot be a good follower cannot be a good leader. Aristotle
Certainly many elected politicians have now grasped the popularity of taking action against climate change.
In her speech to the SNP Conference Nicola Sturgeon pledged to lead by example:
“We are already a world leader and our new legislation commits us to being carbon neutral by 2050. It contains some of the toughest targets in the world.
“But many are urging us to do more and go further. I am listening.
“So I am making this public promise to the young people I met, and to their entire generation. If that advice says we can go further or go faster, we will do so. Scotland will lead by example.”
Labour too have had a turnaround with Leader Jeremy Corbyn saying that they will force a UK Parliament vote on Climate Change. After meeting Greta Thunberg, Jeremy Corbyn said:
“Labour will continue conversations with youth climate strikers and other parties on how we can tackle climate change. Labour will support and engage with youth climate actions in towns and cities across the UK.
“Labour has the plans and funding in place to invest in renewable industries, reduce our carbon emissions and bring well paid and skilled jobs to towns and cities across the UK. Nothing less than a Green Industrial Revolution will do.”
Labour intend to hold a Climate Emergency debate today, Wednesday, 1st May in the House of Commons.
In Orkney a group of activists have launched an online petition which they aim to present to Orkney Islands Council.
You can access it here:Declare a Climate Emergency – Orkney
We sign to ask that
1. Orkney Islands Council ‘tell the truth’ by joining with councils across Scotland and the world by declaring a Climate Emergency. To work alongside the media to communicate with residents.
2. Orkney Islands Council pass a motion to make Orkney carbon neutral by 2025, considering both production and consumption of emissions.
3. Support a national and local Citizen’s Assembly as part of creating a democracy fit for purpose.
Dr Richard Dixon, of Friends of the Earth Scotland is hopeful that a Green New Deal and a new National Investment Bank will help Scotland to address the Climate Change emergency.
But he cautioned:
“We also need to stop doing the things which are ploughing us ever further into crisis. That means an end to new oil exploration and a plan to replace North Sea oil jobs with clean energy jobs, it means investment to make our energy-wasting homes more efficient and it means spending transport money on walking, cycling and public transport instead of things which encourage people to drive even more.”
See also: Letters: Climate change, doomed or no?
Reporter: Fiona Grahame