Last week the Scottish Parliament passed world-leading climate change legislation, embedding in law a “net-zero” target for 2045, which means that any CO2 emissions after that date have to be completely offset with carbon-absorbing measures such as increased tree planting. This target is more ambitious than that set for the UK by some five years. In addition, an ambitious interim target of 75 per cent by 2030 was also agreed. All this puts Scotland at the forefront of the fight against climate change. Encouragingly, there was a broad consensus across the Holyrood Chamber that this was the right thing to do, although, bizarrely, the Scottish Green Party MSPs abstained in the final vote, refusing to support the Bill which everyone else agreed to. The ambitious targets set last week don’t go far enough for some. I met a number of youth climate strikers outside Holyrood on Thursday, who were both articulate and passionate about their subject. Groups like Extinction Rebellion have certainly helped put tackling climate change at the centre of the political agenda, but on the fringes there is the whiff of an end-of-times apocalyptic cult about some of their members. People will often make the claim that if only public transport were better, they would make less use of their cars. And yes, public transport can and should be better, but the reality is that even if we had the world’s best public transport in Scotland, it is still never as convenient as using your own vehicle. The best bus or train system in the world will not pick you up from your front door, and deliver you precisely to your exact destination, by your own preferred route. Using public transport as an alternative to a private car will always mean a sacrifice, and it is simply a cop-out to say that we need better public transport before we can make that choice. We don’t need to be Greta Thunberg to realise that we need to take the threat of climate change much more seriously than we have done in the past. The Scottish Parliament has taken a significant step forward with the legislation passed last week, but on its own it simply won’t be enough. We are all going to have to change our behaviours, and that is going to come at personal cost.
Scotsman 1st Oct 2019 read more »