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PARLIAMENT MUST RISE TO THE CLIMATE EMERGENCY

On Wednesday 8th May, the Scottish Government will seek parliamentary support for a number of measures designed to help Scotland tackle the climate emergency, and ensure Scotland stays at the forefront of global efforts to reduce emissions.

Following the First Minister’s declaration of a climate emergency – and the decision to propose new emissions reduction targets for Scotland - the Scottish Government is committed to reviewing a range of policies for their impact on emissions.

As an initial step, the Scottish Government will commit to not proceeding with proposed reductions to Air Departure Tax - alongside increasing the share of capital expenditure on low carbon projects year-on-year, further empowering councils to tackle emissions through a workplace parking levy, and the introduction of low emission zones.

However, with aviation emissions counting for a relatively small amount of Scotland’s overall carbon emissions, MSPs must also accept that further actions are required – and the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and Climate Change will make a further statement to Parliament next week setting out the challenges of meeting the new targets.

 

Commenting ahead of the debate, Environment and Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

 

“Following the First Minister’s declaration of a climate emergency last week, and the recommendations from the UK Committee on Climate Change, we have moved quickly to increase Scotland’s emissions reduction targets – which will now be the most stringent in the world.  We are reviewing a range of policies across government to ensure that we can meet those targets.

 

“Scotland has already shown global leadership by including a fair share of international aviation and shipping emissions in its statutory climate targets, and the fact is that aviation emissions contribute a relatively limited amount to Scotland’s overall carbon emissions – so while we are making this commitment as the first step to meeting the climate emergency, no one should be pretending that this is job done.

 

“Politicians across parliament and across the UK need to rise to the occasion. If we are all in agreement that the planet is facing a climate emergency, then we all need to do what is in the national – and indeed international – interest, and not just what suits party political purposes.”

 

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said:

“All parts of government and society have a contribution to make to meeting this challenge – and reducing Air Departure Tax is no longer compatible with more ambitious climate targets.

“We continue to support our tourism industry, which is going from strength to strength, and we will work with the sector to develop in a sustainable way. We welcome their efforts – and those of the aviation industry – to reduce carbon emissions.

 

“The fact is that the Scottish Parliament has never been able to use powers over aviation tax, given that the UK Government failed to devolve them in a fit state. 

 

“Air connectivity is critical for the Highlands and Islands, and our position on the existing exemption is unchanged – it must remain in place to protect remote and rural communities. We will continue to work with the UK Government to fix the devolution of Air Departure Tax to ensure that future parliaments can decide on the best policy for Scotland’s interests in line with our climate ambitions.

 

“Labour have consistently played politics with the proposed Workplace Parking Levy, teaming up with the Tories to spread no end of scare stories and misinformation in a transparent attempt to try and gain votes – but if they are serious about taking action to tackle climate change they will step up tomorrow, drop their opposition and back wider action to reduce emissions.”

Note:

The Scottish Government’s proposed amended motion to the debate reads as follows:

That the Parliament calls on the Scottish Government to review its policies and commitments in response to the global climate emergency and the Committee on Climate Change Report; believes that the Scottish Government should maintain its commitment to increasing the share of capital expenditure spent on low-carbon projects year on year; agrees that local authorities must be more empowered to tackle climate change and pursue policies and investments that are designed to encourage modal shift, such as the workplace parking levy and low emission zones, and further agrees that cutting and then abolishing Air Departure Tax is not now compatible with the more ambitious targets that Scotland wishes to pursue.

 

Roseanna Cunningham MSP, 63 Glasgow Road, Perth PH2 0PE  •  01738 620540   •   Website designed & hosted by Craig Mackay Design