June 2019; and for those of us who care about the threat posed by climate change, things are going badly. Not only do we face the likely emergence as UK Prime Minister of a dangerous right-wing jokester whose backers include some of the most powerful climate-change deniers on the planet; but even here in Scotland – where the government has set out ambitious carbon reduction targets – it seems that those in charge are talking the talk, while often failing to walk the walk. Just six weeks after the First Minister declared a climate emergency at her party conference in Edinburgh, it was announced this week that once again, the Scottish Government missed its own carbon reduction target for 2017, largely because of transport emissions; as I write, the SNP are allying themselves with the Tories in the Scottish Parliament to oppose a strikingly modest proposal that Scotland reduce its urban speed limit to a default level of 20mph, thereby saving lives of pedestrians and cyclists, and perhaps encouraging some commuters out of their cars. And this is not because the Scottish Government is particularly bad at implementing policies that would support our transition to a more sustainable economy; it has rafts of positive policies in areas from marine protection to high quality food production. It’s simply because, like all western governments, it tends to use radical language about the climate emergency we face, and then to act as if it has all the time in the world; and as if the maintenance of the old economy, and the continuous oiling of its wheels, must almost always take precedence. As matters stand, only 3.5% of the government agency Transport Scotland’s budget is being spent on walking and cycling, while more than ten times as much is spent on road building; and as the climate activist Greta Thunberg has so often and eloquently pointed out, statistics like these suggest that governments do not at all mean what they say.
Scotsman 14th June 2019 read more »