Policy climbdown

Scottish ministers to dilute climate commitment

Economy Secretary Mairi McAllan addresses Prosper meeting
Mairi McAllan will make a statement on climate targets. (Pic: Terry Murden / DB Media Services)

Scottish Economy and Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan is expected to announce that the Holyrood government is dropping a key climate target.

The minister will admit that the Scottish government’s target for cutting carbon emissions by 75% over the next six years is now unachievable.

There has been criticism of the Scottish government from the UK Climate Change Committee which last month said Scotland had missed its annual emission reductions required by law in eight of the last 12 years and accused ministers of having no meaningful plan to hit the targets.

While annual targets will be dropped, the final goal of reaching “net-zero” by 2045 will remain.

Ms McAllan’s announcement will come just two weeks after Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie called for climate action to be stepped up.

A decision by the SNP to water down its commitments, will contravene the Bute House agreement, which brought the Scottish Greens into power in 2021 and promised to accelerate the transition to net zero.

Scottish Greens climate spokesperson Mark Ruskell MSP tonight said: “We are absolutely determined to accelerate the urgent and substantial action needed to tackle the climate crisis as laid out by the CCC recently, and fully expect the Scottish Government to respond to that challenge.

Mark Ruskell
Mark Ruskell: pivotal moment (pic: Terry Murden)

“This is a pivotal moment for us to ramp up the kind of meaningful change that will put us on track to achieve net zero by 2045 at the latest, in the face of a complete reversal of climate action from the UK Government.”

However, the move will be seen by climate “realists” and some business and consumer leaders, as a pragmatic move and one which will relieve pressure on companies at a time when many are struggling to meet the cost of meeting emission requirements.

Former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon introduced the targets in 2019 and declared that her government was the first in the world to declare a climate emergency.

While government ministers have continued to insist that Scotland has led the way in decarbonising, there has been increasing acknowledgement that the targets are too demanding and that budgets cannot be stretched to accelerate progress.

Even so, a climbdown will be embarrassing to those in government who have criticised both main Westminster parties over meeting carbon objectives.

On Wednesday, an SNP spokesman accused Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, of “refusing to commit” to “bold climate action” and the party has continually taunted him for ditching Labour’s £28 billion a year green investment pledge.

Earlier this week, the Scottish Government highlighted the success of companies which joined a Scottish government business delegation at the COP28 talks in Dubai.

Businessman Tim Allan said: “No one will take responsibility for misleading policy which those of us in the energy sector sought to adopt and absorb. Unrealistic and implausible targets help no one tackle the energy transition process.”

Douglas Lumsden, the Scottish Conservative shadow secretary for net zero, energy and transport, said: “If this report is correct, it amounts to an abject humiliation for the SNP-Green government.

“This climbdown is not a surprise, given the damning report from the climate change committee, but it is symptomatic of a Nationalist coalition that routinely over-promises and under-delivers.

“Màiri McAllan must be cringing at the thought of delivering this statement after her absurd claim that world leaders were seeking out the Scottish government for advice on reaching environmental targets.”

BrewDog’s lost forest trees die

BrewDog has revealed that of the half a million trees the company planted last year in its “lost forest” at least 250,000 died.

James Watt, the boss of the brewer and pubs chain, blamed extreme weather conditions for killing saplings on the Kinrara Estate, near Aviemore which he bought with the support of £700,000 of public cash.

He said: “Woodland projects of this scale are always a challenge. You know that some saplings won’t survive, and you plan for it from the outset.

“But last summer’s extreme conditions resulted in a higher-than-expected failure rate, particularly Scots Pine, which is one of eleven native species we planted.”

Mr Watt said 50,000 saplings had been replaced.

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