Scottish and UK climate policy

> Stop Climate Chaos manifesto

*29 April 2024

Yousaf resigns

Rather than face the likely humiliation of losing votes of confidence in himself as First Minister and in the SNP Scottish Government, Humza Yousaf resigned as First Minister and SNP leader on 29 April.

Despite calls from opposition parties for an immediate parliamentary election, it is likely that the SNP will engage in another leadership election and seek to remain as a minority Government until 2026.

*25 April 2024

Yousaf abandons Bute House agreement

A week after Scottish politics was thrown into turmoil by the government's announcement that it was abandoning its 2030 emissions target, provoking an angry reaction from the Scottish Greens and the convening of a meeting to decide whether they should withdraw from the Bute House agreement (see below) and change their leaders, First Minister Humza Yousaf beat them to it and announced at breakfast time yesterday (25 April) that the agreement was ended with immediate effect.  He said

“The Bute House Agreement was intended to provide stability to the Scottish Government, and it has made possible a number of achievements. But it has served its purpose.

“It is no longer guaranteeing a stable arrangement in Parliament. The events of recent days have made that clear.”

Scottish Greens' co-leader Lorna Slater, who along with her colleague Patrick Harvie loses her ministerial post, said

“This is an act of political cowardice by the SNP”,  accusing the First Minister of “selling out future generations to appease the most reactionary forces in the country.”

As a consequence of his announcement Yousaf's political future is in peril as he faces two votes of no confidence - one in him as First Minister tabled by the Conservatives, and another in the entire Scottish Government tabled by Scottish Labour.

*April 2024

SG abandons 2030 75% net Zero target . .

Following a March 2024 report from the UK's Climate Change Committee declaring that  'Scotland’s 2030 climate goals are no longer credible',  the Scottish Government announced on 18 April that it was abandoning its target to achieve 75% of the emissions reductions required to meet net zero, by 2030.  The announcement produced a predictable angry reaction from the Scottish Green Party and environmental organisations, and has led the Greens to question the leadership of Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, and to convene an EGM to decide whether the party should abandon the 2021 Bute House Agreement which brought it into government in partnership with the SNP.

Net Zero Secretary's statement

Full report of Scottish Parliament debate

Angry reaction
The Guardian   18 April   Severin Carrell   Scotland Editor

. . and publishes new Net Zero policy package

In the same speech in which she announced the abandonment of the 2030 target, Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Net Zero and Energy Màiri McAllan announced a new policy package aimed at progressing towards the primary - and outstanding - target for Scotland to achieve Net Zero by 2045 - five years before the UK government's target date.


Policy package

SPICe Spotlight


*April 2024

Engaging the public on Climate Change

18 recommendations from a new People's Panel

On October 25th 2023 the Scottish Parliament Conveners Group (made up of chairs of all the Parliamentary committees) endorsed the formation of a People's Panel to support the Net-Zero, Energy and Transport (NZET) Committee's post-legislative scrutiny of section 91 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. Section 91 requires the Scottish Government to produce and periodically review a public engagement strategy for climate change. 
The People’s Panel was asked to develop recommendations in response to the following questions: 
How effective has the Scottish Government been at engaging the public on climate change and Scotland’s climate change targets?  
What else (if anything) could the Scottish Government do to inform and involve the public to help meet Scotland’s climate change targets? 

The People's Panel, comprised of 23 randomly selected individuals, convened over two residential weekends and two online sessions in February and March 2024. The panel deliberated on the effectiveness of the Scottish Government's engagement strategy on climate change and made recommendations to enhance public involvement in meeting climate targets. 

Scottish Parliament overview and Panel proceedings and resources

View and download the panel's report and recommendations  (April 2024)


October 2023

Campaign for UK Climate and Ecology Bill

An email asking community councils for their support draws attention to this campaign

From the 'Zero Hour' website
Zero Hour is the campaign for the Climate and Ecology Bill, formerly the CEE Bill, a plan for a new UK law that addresses climate change, global warming, and the nature crisis in line with the most up-to-date science. The Bill is the only proposed legislation before the UK Parliament that ensures a comprehensive and joined-up approach to the emergency.

From the email to community councils
The Climate and Ecology Bill, if made law, would ensure that:

  • The threat facing nature is tackled shoulder to shoulder with the climate crisis in a joined-up approach
  • The Paris Agreement is enshrined into law to ensure that the UK does its real fair share to limit global temperature rise to the most stringent end of the Paris agreement - 1.5°C
  • The UK takes full responsibility for our entire greenhouse gas footprint by accounting for all of the emissions that take place overseas to manufacture, transport and dispose of the goods and services we import and consume)
  • The government deliver a climate and nature assembly that is representative of the UK population, working directly with the Government and Parliament to ensure that all voices are heard and that no one is left behind.

The Bill, which was written by scientists, experts and campaigners, was first introduced in Parliament by Caroline Lucas MP in September 2020, and given its first reading in May 2023. It now has the backing of over 150 parliamentarians representing all major political parties, and is due for its second reading on 24 November.

Long title and parliamentary sponsors
A Bill to Require the Secretary of State to achieve climate and nature targets for the United Kingdom; to give the Secretary of State a duty to implement a strategy to achieve those targets; to establish a Climate and Nature Assembly to advise the Secretary of State in creating that strategy; to give duties to the Committee on Climate Change and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee regarding the strategy and targets; and for connected purposes.

Presented by Olivia Blake
supported by Peter Bottomley, Alan Brown, Ed Davey, Geraint Davies, Colum Eastwood, Stephen Farry, Wera Hobhouse, Caroline Lucas,
Brendan O’Hara, Liz Saville Roberts and Derek Thomas.

Zero Hour briefing on the bill

Full text of the bill


October 2023

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland - Scottish Climate Manifesto 

The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, recently said: “humanity is on thin ice — and that ice is melting fast.” He called on the world’s nations to “massively fast-track climate efforts by every country and every sector and on every timeframe.”

The Climate Manifesto is our attempt to show how to do that.

Scotland has been a global climate leader. But it still needs to do much more to reduce emissions at home, to prepare for the climate that is coming, and to help the most vulnerable countries already suffering deep impacts. 

We are off track to meet our climate targets and this document is a collection of proposals that could help us get back on track. It is a wealth of content for those revising Scotland climate plans. It is a wide-ranging set of plans for political party manifesto writers. And it is a mine of information for politicians trying to make the world a better place. 

From farming to transport and from energy to our seas, the policies in this document cover vast swathes of the economy. They also show how to change the economy itself and they demand that we make our fair contribution to the rest of the world’s efforts to cope with a changing climate.

The policies in this document concentrate on reducing emissions but also touch on adaptation. And they outline how climate action can be paid for fairly by making polluters pay. 


Read the Manifesto online

Download Manifesto as PDF  (143 pp)


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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