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Scottish response to climate emergency must be in ‘national psyche’

Environment minister Roseanna Cunningham said the country must act to safeguard the planet for future generations.

Nicola Sturgeon declared a climate emergency in April (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Nicola Sturgeon declared a climate emergency in April (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Scotland’s response to the global climate emergency must be “hardwired into our national psyche”, Environment minister Roseanna Cunningham has said.

Speaking at Holyrood on Tuesday, Ms Cunningham said that evidence of climate change is “irrefutable” and said that future generations would have to pay the price if action is not taken now.

At the SNP conference last month, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared a climate emergency and said that Scotland would continue to “lead by example” on tackling the issue.

“Scotland has always been an innovator. This is one of our great strengths,” said Ms Cunningham.

“Responding to the climate emergency will not be easy, but Scotland is not in the business of taking the easy way out. Scotland’s response to the climate emergency must be hardwired into our national psyche.

“We must take this journey together, seize the economic opportunities available to us and redefine what world leadership means, not just as a government but as a country.

“Scotland has declared a global climate emergency and now Scotland must act as one to safeguard our planet for future generations.”

Earlier this month, the Scottish Government agreed to a target of net-zero emissions by 2045 – an aim described by experts as the “most ambitious in the world”.

It followed recommendations set out by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) that Scotland meet the target five years ahead of the UK in 2050.

Last week, the Government scrapped plans to cut the amount of tax paid by passengers flying from Scottish airports.

The move would have seen a reduction in air departure tax (ADT) by 50% before being abolished altogether.

Ms Cunningham outlined the Government’s decision to change its approach on ADT, along with the announcement of a deposit return scheme, rail-freight industry funding, supporting low-carbon farming practices, and granting funding for e-bikes, as steps towards combating climate change.

The Cabinet Secretary also urged people from across the country to consider what measures can be taken to cut down on waste.

“This must be a shared national endeavour. We all need to think more about how we can make our lives more sustainable, cutting down on waste and excess,” said Ms Cunningham.

“We will be consulting widely over the summer to feed into the  update of the climate change plan and let everyone have their say on what needs to happen across Scotland in response to the climate emergency.”

Scottish Conservative MSP Maurice Golden said: “I can pledge that, as the only opposition party to have produced a detailed policy document on the environment and climate change, we stand ready to work with the Government to tackle one of the greatest challenges of our age.”

Scottish Labour MSP Claudia Beamish added: “This is indeed a global climate emergency and Scotland must respond with the responsibility of a developed nation and recognise intergenerational justice.”

Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell said: “I’m very pleased that the Government is listening to the Greens and committing to put climate at the heart of the next programme for government, but also critically, the spending review in a couple of years time.

“But of course the climate emergency cannot wait for the next spending review. I’d like to make it clear that the Greens cannot commit to negotiations over the next annual budget unless it has climate change and a Green New Deal at its heart.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur said that his party would commit to engaging constructively with the Government and with all parties in addressing the climate emergency.

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