Climate Targets (Legislation)

General Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament am ar 30 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Llafur

To ask the Scottish Government when it will introduce legislation on climate targets, as announced by the net zero secretary in her ministerial statement on 18 April. (S6O-03509)

Photo of Màiri McAllan Màiri McAllan Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government’s commitment to achieving net zero by 2045 is unwavering. However, we must now base our actions on the Climate Change Committee’s long-standing position that the interim 2030 target, set by Parliament on a cross-party basis, is beyond what can be achieved. As soon as is practicable, therefore, we will introduce legislation to ensure that our emissions pathway takes account of the latest advice. I ask members across the parties to collaborate with me on the issue to ensure that we follow the CCC’s advice.

Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Llafur

I ask the cabinet secretary for clarity on what she meant by introducing “expedited legislation”, as she said in her statement to the chamber, to address the matters that the Climate Change Committee had raised and to ensure that our legislative framework better reflects the reality of long-term climate policy. Has she given up on her plan to introduce that legislation in an expedited manner? We are waiting for it now. Is it not the case that the longer the Scottish Government delays such legislation, the longer Scotland will go without a climate change plan and the longer we will have to wait for urgent action to tackle the climate emergency?

Photo of Màiri McAllan Màiri McAllan Scottish National Party

I understand Sarah Boyack’s point, but I absolutely confirm to her that the Government’s intention remains the same. Earlier in the week, I had a long evidence session on the subject at a meeting of the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee. I want the legislation to be introduced as soon as possible, and the bill’s scope to be as narrow as possible, not only to address the impediment that we currently face on progress towards meeting the 2030 target but to remove that impediment as soon as we can so that we can continue to make progress. That is important to me and, as I understand it, to Sarah Boyack.

Photo of Bob Doris Bob Doris Scottish National Party

Achieving full delivery of our climate policies will require full funding, yet the United Kingdom Government is to cut around 9 per cent—£1.5 billion—from Scotland’s capital budget. Given that the Climate Change Committee has called for partnership working between Scotland and Westminster, has the Scottish Government had any indication from the UK Government that cuts that undermine such climate commitments will be reversed?

Photo of Màiri McAllan Màiri McAllan Scottish National Party

Bob Doris is absolutely right to point out the significant costs of moving to net zero and how our ability to make the required investments is being undermined by the UK Government’s failure to inflation proof its budget. I firmly believe that, done correctly, investment in net zero represents an economic win. Indeed, the chair of the Scottish Fiscal Commission, Professor Graeme Roy, recently said:

“Doing nothing, not responding to the challenge of climate change, will be far more expensive and damaging to the public finances than investing in net zero ... it is simply not an option.”

I put that call to current and future UK Governments, and I urge them to reverse Scotland’s capital cut.

Photo of Edward Mountain Edward Mountain Ceidwadwyr

The cabinet secretary has made it quite clear that such legislation can be introduced, and that it should be done quickly. Given that it would have to be introduced and agreed to before November, will the cabinet secretary undertake to ensure that there will be sufficient time for not only the committee but the people of Scotland to consider the information contained in it?

Photo of Màiri McAllan Màiri McAllan Scottish National Party

I absolutely will. I reiterate what I said in response to Sarah Boyack: I want the legislation to be introduced as soon as is practicable. That will depend partly on the capacity of the Parliament’s committees, particularly that of the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee, which Edward Mountain convenes. I will be sure to engage with him on timetabling as part of the planning for the bill.