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Update from Scottish Government on the Climate Change Bill

11 April 2019

We are pleased to include a brief update from our partners in Scottish Government. Here, the Climate Change Bill Team provide insight on the current Climate Change Bill, where it is now and what the next stages entail. Public bodies and SSN members will find this update particuarly relevant.

Message from the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Bill Team

Scotland is internationally recognised as a world leader in tackling climate change, having already succeeded in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 49%. Everyone who has been working to reduce emissions over the years can take pride in that.

But Scottish Ministers acknowledge that we can’t rest on our laurels - climate change is one of the defining global challenges of our time. So last year Scottish Government introduced a bill to further strengthen our ambition. Many public bodies responded to the consultation which helped shape the Bill - thank you to those who took part.

We would like to provide an update on what is currently going on with the Bill.

On 4 March, The Parliamentary Environment Climate Change and Land Reform Committee published its Stage 1 report, with 80 recommendations. The Scottish Government has welcomed this, including the recognition of how ambitious our proposed targets are. As the report says, the Bill “will place Scotland among those at the forefront of global ambition on climate change”. You can read the Scottish Government’s response here. The Stage 1 debate was held on 2 April, where all parties voted to agree with the principles of the Bill.

Much of the focus on the Bill has been on when to set a net-zero target for all greenhouse gas emissions. Ministers agree that such a target is highly desirable, and the Scottish Government is determined to achieve it as soon as possible. The independent, expert advisors, the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC), advised in 2017 that a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is at “the limit of feasibility” for Scotland. That’s why a 90% target was put in the Bill. You can read more about why the Scottish Government believes that it shouldn’t set targets beyond those that are evidence-based here.

But Ministers are absolutely committed to being as ambitious as they can credibly be. That is why, in response to October’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on 1.5 Degrees, the Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change, Environment and Land Reform wrote to the CCC to ask if even more ambitious targets are feasible. It was a joint request from the Scottish, Welsh and UK Governments and the advice is expected on 2 May. The First Minister has said that “If [the CCC] says that we can now responsibly and credibly set a date to achieve net zero emissions of all greenhouse gases, we will do so”.

Stage 2 will begin following the advice from the CCC, to allow the advice to inform Parliament’s deliberations of the Bill. Once the Bill has received Royal Assent, Ministers have committed to reviewing the Climate Change Plan in light of the targets that Parliament has decided upon.

The Scottish Government recognises that the progress made on emissions reduction by public bodies has enabled it to set such high targets. Climate change is the biggest issue the planet faces and it’s ambition of Ministers to continue Scotland’s world leading approach on this most serious of obligations.

We hope you find this update helpful. We’ll provide another following the completion of Stage 2.

You can find more information about the passage of the Bill through Parliament, and read the Bill and the accompanying documents, on the Scottish Parliament website.

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