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Scotland Takes Significant Steps to Address the Climate Emergency

Scottish Parliament FGThe Scottish Parliament passed its Climate Change Bill on Wednesday 25th of September : known as Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill.  It commits Scotland to becoming a net-zero society by 2045 – five years before the rest of the UK and in line with the advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change.

The passage of the Bill was hailed by the Scottish Government as landmark legislation. A Scottish Citizens Assembly will also meet to discuss climate change and put forward recommendations on achieving zero net emission targets.

Maree ToddLocal  MSP Maree Todd, SNP said:

“Ending our contribution to climate change will enable us to grow Orkney’s economy and productivity and improve the wellbeing of everyone who lives here.

“While Westminster is consumed by chaos and the Tories have abandoned any pretence of a domestic agenda, the SNP government is ready and willing to take necessary steps to improve people’s lives and take the action scientists tell us is necessary.

“Climate change is the biggest challenge facing humanity, and the defining political issue for all of us.

“We have a moral duty to future generations to tackle climate change now and the forthcoming Climate Change Bill delivers on that commitment.”

The Bill had cross party support. The Greens abstained on the final vote. The result was For 113, Against 0, Abstentions 6.

Dave Moxham, Deputy General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress said:

“We welcome that the new climate change legislation enshrines Just Transition principles, and requires that future Climate Plans explain the impact of proposals and policies on employment in different sectors and regions and set out support for the workforce, communities and employers.

“We also welcome that Ministers are required to report on measures for support for workers and communities in annual progress reports to Parliament. Crucially, trade unions have been recognised as key stakeholders in the new principles set out in the Bill.

“Going forward the Scottish Government must recognise that the markets have failed to avert climate emergency. Ministers must be much more interventionist and willing to take on corporate interests if they are to deliver a truly just transition.”

The day after the passing of the Bill , school children and students from across Scotland organised a demonstration at Holyrood to say the Climate legislation does not go far enough and  presented a list of demands for MSPs that they say would actually address the climate emergency.

Climate change protest Scottish Parliament 26 Sept 2019
‘The Scottish People’s Climate Action Declaration’ covers a wide range of policy areas from energy production, food and transport to the curriculum. The demands include Scotland achieving 100% net-zero climate emissions by 2030, reforming the Scottish curriculum to address the climate and ecological crisis, and implementing a Scottish Green New Deal that ensures decarbonisation is fair for workers and communities across the country.

Emil Carr, 17, from Glasgow Youth Climate Strike said:

“The targets and policies outlined in the Climate Change Bill are nowhere near radical enough to halt the climate crisis. The science says we must be carbon neutral by 2030 or we are endangering the future of the planet. Our leaders have failed us, both in not delivering strong enough targets and not putting social justice at the heart of the Climate Change Bill.”

“The policies that we have outlined in the declaration, developed from discussions between people held around the country, lay out how we think we can best tackle the climate crisis, and achieve both the goals of social justice and climate justice.”

The United Nations Climate Summit

Climate Strike Greta ThurnbergThis week Greta Thunberg addressed the United Nations Climate Summit with an impassioned speech to world leaders. At the summit 65 countries including other large  economies such as California committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, while 70 countries announced they will either boost their national action
plans by 2020 or have started the process of doing so.

Many countries and over 100 cities – including many of the world’s largest – announced  new steps to combat the climate crisis. But it was  many of the smaller countries including Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries which were among those who made the biggest pledges, despite the fact that they have contributed the least to the problem.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, in closing the Summit, said:

“You have delivered a boost in momentum, cooperation and ambition. But we have a long way to go.”

“We need more concrete plans, more ambition from more countries and more businesses. We need all financial institutions, public and private, to choose, once and for all, the green economy.”

It was the speech by Greta Thunberg, however, that made the most impact with the public and especially with young people.

Just Transition and the Scottish Investment Bank

Important when introducing measures to combat climate change is having strategies for a ‘Just Transition’ that will stop Scotland’s economy from being negatively impacted and make sure that people have alternative jobs to go to.

In the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 26th of September a Bill was introduced for a Scottish Investment Bank. This will have an important role to play in Just Transition to support measures to tackle Climate Change. You can watch that debate here:

Environmental campaigners are now urging all MSPs to work to amend the Bill to ensure the Bank supports a Just Transition to a zero-carbon economy. MSPs will be able to propose amendments over the coming months, as the Bill passes through Stage 2.

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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