Scottish and UK climate policy

August 2023

Humza Yousaf unveils £24m climate aid as he meets US envoy John Kerry

The Herald  24 August 2023   Tom Gordon  Political Editor

Humza Yousaf will today announce up to £24million for countries hit by the climate crisis as he welcomes US special envoy John Kerry to Scotland.

The First Minister will confirm the funding when he introduces Mr Kerry at the inaugural Scottish Global Dialogues event in Edinburgh.

The Scottish Government will give up to £8m each to three aid agencies - Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF), DAI, and NIRAS - over the next three years from its Climate Justice Fund to support work in Rwanda, Malawi and Zambia respectively.

It will be used to help communities respond to the effects of climate change through projects such as building more climate-resilient housing and repairing village flood defences.

Mr Yousaf and Mr Kerry, the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, will speak at the Signet Library in an event organised by Beyond Borders Scotland, the WS Society and Scottish Government. 

In his introductory address, the First Minister will say: “The countries which are the worst affected by the climate crisis are often those which have done little or nothing to cause it. 

“The injustice at the heart of the global climate crisis is why Scotland became the first country in the world to establish a Climate Justice Fund more than a decade ago and why we have led the way in being the first global north country to commit funding to address loss and damage.  

“Today, we are able to announce the start of the Climate Just Communities programme in Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda. The programme will work with local communities – including with marginalised groups – so that they can identify their own priorities, and build their resilience to the climate crisis.

“The £24m programme that we are confirming today is a significant commitment from a devolved government.

"It will make a real difference to the communities we are working with and it’s a further sign of Scotland’s determination to be a good global citizen – and to do our bit in tackling the climate crisis here in Scotland and across the world.”

Mr Kerry, the losing Democratic candidate for US President in 2004, said: “I’m honoured to be given the opportunity to speak at a historic site like the Signet Library to address the climate crisis at this critical moment. 

“With just a few months to go before COP28 in Dubai, we all need to ensure our unwavering commitment to addressing one of the world’s greatest threats.”

Beyond Borders founder Mark Muller Stuart KC added: “We are delighted that Mr Kerry has accepted our invitation to come to Scotland to launch Scottish Global Dialogues by giving the inaugural address on such a critical issue as we move towards Cop28.

“We believe the convening power of the Edinburgh festivals and the Signet Library’s Scottish enlightenment connections provides the perfect backdrop for such an address, to say nothing of the Scottish people’s enduring commitment to protecting our environment.”


July 2023

UK's climate backslide  -  changes to the UK’s carbon trading scheme

First FT     31 July 2023    Tee Zhuo    Newsletters & Social Media Editor

The UK government has made it cheaper for industry to pollute in Britain compared with the EU by watering down reforms to the carbon market, in the latest sign that the Conservative party is backsliding on its climate agenda.

Whitehall recently quietly announced changes to the UK’s carbon trading scheme, including offering more allowances than expected to polluting industries. The move has pushed carbon prices to trade at a steep discount compared with those in Europe, sparking warnings from industry that it will undermine green investments and increase fossil fuel use.

“The changes to the carbon market have largely passed under the radar in the UK but will have the biggest impact of any policy on the UK’s emissions path,” said James Huckstepp, an analyst at BNP Paribas.

The UK Emissions Trading Scheme was launched in 2021 after Brexit. Like its equivalent in the EU, it puts a price on emitting a tonne of CO₂. Large industrial emitters and electricity generators receive allowances to cover some of their emissions.

This month the UK government surprised the industry by announcing that it would make more allowances available than anticipated as part of an overall reduction in the emissions cap. It also said it would give 53.5mn tonnes of extra allowances — about half a year’s worth of UK emissions covered by the scheme — to polluters between 2024 and 2027.

  • Nuclear energy: The UK’s goal to more than triple nuclear power generation capacity by 2050 lacks a clear plan to achieve it, according to a report by a House of Commons science committee. In a comment piece in the Financial Times, the group’s chair argues that ambition alone is not enough.
  • Geothermal energy: The climate-friendly energy source is helping Munich lead the way in cutting Germany’s heavy dependence on fossil fuels for heating.


July 2023

UK Government in denial on climate change

On Thursday last week (20 July) climate scientists lined up on the BBC to condemn what fifteen of them described in a letter to Rishi Sunak as the government's 'lackadaisical' attitude to global warming, and accused the government of dishonestly claiming to still be international leaders in climate change mitigation when this was no longer true.

A long item on Radio 4's The World at One began with a series of quotations, about the importance of 'keeping 1.5 alive'.  There followed a recording of a Today Programme interview the same day with Sir Bob Watson, Director of Strategic Development for the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, and live interviews with Dr Chris Smith, Research Fellow at the Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science at Leeds University; Lord Stern, currently Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at LSE and  leader of the of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, published in 2006; and Lord Deben, recently retired Chair of the UK Climate Change Committee.  All feared that the target of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels was no longer achievable, and accused the government of not taking climate change seriously enough, and not taking sufficient action to try to mitigate its effects.  A statement made to The World at One by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, in an attempt to justify the government's current attitude to climate change, said  the UK was 

“a world leader on net zero, cutting emissions faster than any other G7 country, and has attracted billions of investment into renewables, which now account for 40% of our electricity.  In the last year alone we have confirmed the first state backing of a new nuclear project in over 30 years and invested billions to kick-start new industries like carbon capture and floating offshore wind.

“With a new department dedicated to delivering net zero and energy security, this government is driving economic growth, creating jobs, bringing down energy bills, and reducing our dependence on imported fossil fuels.”

Listen to The World at One  item  (You may have to sign in to BBC Sounds - the item starts at 7.30.  The government statement is at 21.30).

Sir Bob Watson on the Today programme  20 July  Esme Stallard & Justin Rowlatt    BBC News Climate and Science

Climate scientists' and industrialists' letters to Rishi Sunak  Financial Times  20 July  Jim Pickard and Attracta Mooney.


Local Government's role in achieving net zero


The Scottish Parliament's Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee has published a detailed report into 'The role of local government and its cross-sectoral partners in financing and delivering a net-zero Scotland'.

The Executive Summary warns that  'Scotland will not meet its ambitious target of being net zero by 2045 without a more empowered local government sector, with better access to the skills and capital it will need to play a full role in this energy revolution, and a clearer understanding of the specific role the Scottish Government wants it to play in some key delivery areas'.

Read the report


May 2023

Recent UK 'Net Zero' policy documents

UK Net Zero Research and Innovation Framework: Delivery Plan 2022 to 2025
PDF, 3.53 MB, 93 pages

2030 Strategic Framework for International Climate and Nature Action
PDF, 3.17 MB, 79 pages

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