In June 2018, the Scottish Government published a Discussion Paper on Developing an Environment Strategy for Scotland. The government have asked for members of the public to submit their views on this paper and gather feedback on their draft vision and outcomes for Scotland. We have submitted our response to their consultation and have also been asked to sit on an external working group to help shape this strategy.
The below response was compiled based on 2050 Climate Group’s previous engagement with young people as part of consultations on the Climate Change Plan, Climate Change Bill and the Energy Strategy.
1. What are your views on the following draft vision for Scotland’s environment and climate change policies?
Our draft vision is for “one planet prosperity”. This means protecting nature and living within the Earth’s sustainable limits, while building a more prosperous, innovative and successful nation.
The 2050 Climate Group welcomes the Scottish Government’s commitment to an integrated environmental strategy for Scotland based on the recently relaunched National Performance Framework. The draft environmental strategy is centered around a whole-ecosystem approach incorporating a range of topics from biodiversity to health and inclusive growth, which we commend. It is crucial that a holistic approach is employed as climate change, outlined by the United Nations Secretary General is “the most systemic threat to humankind”, has an impact on all sectors of the economy and our day to day lives.
While we welcome the ambitions outlined in this proposal, we believe that bolder steps need to be taken to tackle climate change. The Scottish Government needs to set a robust and deliverable ambition for the achievement of a low carbon future and outline in more detail the steps to be taken to do so. The recently introduced in Parliament Climate Change Bill goes some way to address this through greenhouse gas emission reduction targets across all sectors of the economy with a target of 90% emission reduction by 2050. However, to ensure that Scotland is contributing to “limiting global temperature rise to well below 2°C”, this ambition needs to be taken further. In 2050 Climate Group’s previous contributions to a range of public consultations, including the Climate Change Plan, Climate Change Bill, Energy Strategy and Energy Efficient Scotland, we have repeatedly voiced our concerns that a target which does not go as far as setting a net zero goal will not be sufficient in preventing the negative impact climate change would have not only on the people of Scotland, but also in developing countries where the capacity to deal with climate change mitigation and adaptation might be much lower than in Scotland.
2. What are your views on the following draft outcomes that will help to achieve this vision?
- We are a climate leader and play our full role in limiting global temperature rise to well below 2°C.
- We are a zero waste, resource efficient nation.
- Our biodiversity is protected and enhanced, supporting healthy ecosystems.
- Our air, freshwater, seas and soils are of excellent quality.
- Everyone can access, enjoy and connect with nature.
- The global footprint of our consumption and production is sustainable.
We welcome the Scottish Government’s ambition to an outcome-based environmental strategy. While we agree that a set of outcomes needs to be the foundation of this strategy, we want to ensure that the Scottish Government sets clear targets to achieving the above outcomes. We believe that a commitment to limiting global temperature increase should be clearly set at 1.5 degrees C rather than“well below 2”, as there are significant benefits of this in terms of reduction in damages, mitigation, adaptation and risks. We agree that to achieve our climate change targets, Scotland needs to be a truly zero waste nation and this should include a clear commitment to the achievement of a circular economy – from construction to food and drink production.
In relation to outcomes 4 and 5, we believe that a clear goal of what success looks like should be defined – e.g. clearly define “excellent quality” in the context of ecosystem health. It is crucial that everyone can benefit from easy access to nature as this is shown to improve health and well-being. An important element of ensuring accessibility is providing the right infrastructure. The development of an affordable and reliable public transportation system and enabling active travel through the development of safe cycling infrastructure are crucial in ensuring young people and people of all ages are able to access the benefits of nature and green spaces sustainably.
In relation to outcome 6, tackling the problem of overconsumption and having a zero waste, circular economy is crucial to ensuring that we live within the “Earth’s sustainable limits”. The Scottish Government needs to set a clear target as to what success looks like and ensure that cross-government policy aligns to these ambitions.
We are disappointed that there is no outcome outlined specifically for climate change and climate justice and urge the Scottish Government to ensure that this is included in the further development of the strategy to emphasise the importance of climate change. Young people, as future leaders, play a crucial role in helping Scotland achieve the above ambitions and this is why it is of paramount importance that we are included in the policy- and decision-making processes which will shape the final environmental strategy. 2050 Climate Group would be eager to contribute to the Scottish Government’s work on this, as well as on the establishment of a Just Transition Commission as detailed in this draft strategy.
3. What are your views on the draft knowledge accounts which will be used to help identify priorities for action in the coming years? What additional sources of key evidence can you add?
We commend the Scottish Government’s evidence-based approach in relation to the 8 draft knowledge accounts developed as part of this environmental strategy. We are particularly interested in the air quality, household resource efficiency, value the environment and quality green space ones. We are currently in the stages of preparing a formal response to the Transport (Scotland) Bill and are concerned that some of the Scottish Government’s ambitions included in the Bill in relation to low emission zones and bus services do not go far enough in ensuring that significant reduction in air pollution is achieved, especially in urban centres such as Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee.
Finally, as recognised in this draft environmental strategy, it is crucial that we ensure EU environmental and climate change legislation is transposed in Scots Law after the UK EU exit to help us achieve our environmental and climate change ambitions.
2050 Climate Group aims to engage, educate and empower Scotland’s young people to take action on climate change. Our current network consists of over 400 Young Leaders across all sectors and regions in Scotland who have participated or are currently participating in our Young Leaders Development Programme (YLDP) or are involved in the operational functions of the organisation.
Our remit is to inspire and facilitate young people getting involved, not only in the 2050 Climate Group, but also in the design of policy affecting their future. We believe it is imperative to involve Scotland’s future leaders in decision making to mitigate climate change now. There is untapped potential in the expertise, skills and commitment of this generation to support the Government in leading Scotland to a decarbonised, sustainable and equitable future beyond the year 2050.