Scotland politics

New advice sought on Scotland's climate change bill

thermometer and sky Image copyright Getty Images

The Scottish government is to seek fresh independent advice on its climate change targets after the latest warning on rising global temperatures.

An international report has said the world is currently heading for a 3C rise, way above the 1.5C target.

A coalition of charities has called on Scottish ministers to strengthen the forthcoming Climate Change Bill.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said action was a "massive priority" but Scotland's record was "exemplary".

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that limiting global warming to 1.5C by the end of the century would require "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society".

The panel said it would be hugely expensive, requiring around 2.5% of global GDP for two decades, but failure to act would have dire consequences.

If temperatures are allowed to rise to 2C, coral reefs will be wiped out, sea levels will rise by 10cm and 10 million more people will be exposed to flooding, the researchers warn.

Carbon neutral

Asked for her reaction to the report, Nicola Sturgeon said tackling climate change was a "massive priority" for the Scottish government.

She added: "The actions the Scottish government has already taken have been described by the United Nations as exemplary. We initially set targets for the reduction of emissions for 2020. We are already ahead of those targets and are toughening up those targets.

"We have just introduced to the Scottish Parliament new legislation that would make Scotland carbon neutral by 2050 and also as soon as the science says it's possible to do, make Scotland a net zero country in terms of emissions - not just carbon emissions but emissions overall."

Image copyright Scottish Power
Image caption The closure of Longannet Power Station has helped Scotland meet climate change targets

A Scottish government spokesperson said: "In line with our evidence based approach to tackling climate change, we are committed to considering the report carefully, including seeking updated independent, expert advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change on its implications for our targets."

The Scottish government published its draft Climate Change Bill earlier this year, which upped a 2050 target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 80% to 90% against 1990 levels.

It adds that the 100% target should be set once a clear pathway to achieving this is established.

But the environmental group Friends of the Earth said the bill promised very little in extra action between now and 2030 beyond that already contained in existing legislation.

'Further and faster'

Friends of the Earth Scotland director Dr Richard Dixon said: "The bill doesn't commit to the action necessary to limit warming to 1.5C, it doesn't deliver on the Paris Agreement, and it doesn't deliver on Nicola Sturgeon's promise to ensure that Scotland plays our full part in tackling this global problem."

The co-leader of the Scottish Greens, Patrick Harvie, called on the first minister to convene a summit of political and civic leaders throughout Scotland to discuss further action.

He said: "Scotland wants to be seen as a leader, and that means going further and faster than merely our 'fair share' of effort.

"Crucially, Scotland can no longer take comfort in the limited actions already promised while pretending the fossil fuel economy can carry on as usual."