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Turning up the heat

Brian Taylor | 14:42 UK time, Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Remarkable dual approach at Holyrood over climate change.

Accusations of political manipulation offstage. Unanimous backing in the chamber.

Versions of how they got there differ. But our MSPs are now committed to a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 42% by 2020. That's up from 34%.

Firstly, the offstage stuff.

Labour accuses the Scottish Government of lacking ambition.

By contrast, ministers reckon Labour are at it - late political opportunism to irk the government.

Lib Dems and Greens say both the big parties are missing an opportunity to drive real change - with annual targets instead of a single, longer-term ambition.

Argument, irritability, claim and counter claim. Then they all vote unanimously for the deal.

Contradictory? No.

Quite often, political deals go to the wire. Look at the negotiations over the budget.

This consensus reflects the fact that all parties reckon they've arrived, collectively, at the best agreement possible in the circumstances.

The key point about the new, higher target is that it includes get-out clauses. Ministers will be able to vary the 2020 target in certain circumstances - most notably linked to wider efforts to tackle emissions by the EU.

But the minister, Stewart Stevenson, promised that there would be only one change at most; that it would not cut the target for 2020 below expert advice; and that it would not be needed at all if the EU went for ambitious targets which, in effect, offer Scotland a helping hand.

So, targets we have. Now, as to implementation.


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