BACKGROUND

In June 2007, the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, John Swinney, announced the Scottish Government's intention to bring forward a Climate Change Bill. It was envisaged that the Bill would: set a mandatory long-term target for Scotland to achieve an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050; establish a legal framework through which to enable the required reduction; and set the context for action to mitigate climate change and adapt to its effects.

From 29 January 2008 to 23 April 2008, the Scottish Government published a consultation which set out proposals for a Scottish Climate Change Bill and sought views on options for a Bill. The responses to the consultation have helped the Scottish Government develop the policies which will be taken forward by the Scottish Climate Change Bill.

KEY PROVISIONS

The key components of the Bill, as encompassed in the Scottish Government's response to the consultation, is summarised as follows:

  • target to reduce emissions of the basket of six greenhouse gases by at least 80% by 2050 with an interim target to reduce Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030;
  • emissions from international aviation and international shipping to be included within the targets;
  • incorporation of a robust statutory framework based on annual targets to ensure action is taken continuously over the period up to 2050;
  • strong duties on Ministers to report progress towards meeting the emissions reduction targets and regular reporting of Ministers' plans and policies to help Scotland adapt to the effects of climate change;
  • provisions to set up a Scottish Committee on climate change or to confer suitable powers on an existing body if required; and
  • enabling powers to allow duties to be placed on public sector bodies to take specified actions on climate change.

In addition to the key features, the Bill will include further provisions on a number of topics which will contribute to action on climate change. These include the following:

  • Scottish Ministers to produce an energy efficiency action plan which is regularly reported on, reviewed and updated;
  • enabling powers to allow Scottish Ministers to make regulations to reduce waste and encourage recycling;
  • (depending on the outcome of a separate consultation) proposals to improve the energy performance of existing non-domestic buildings;
  • enabling powers to allow the creation of regulations to promote and incentivise the generation of heat from renewable sources;
  • maximising the potential of Scotland's forest estate to support the Scottish Government's climate change objectives.

The measures were first announced at the recent SNP conference. Ministers claim it will be the most ambitious legislation to tackle global warming in the world. SNP Energy spokesperson Mike Weir MP welcomed the Scottish Government's announcement of ambitious climate change targets saying:

"We welcome the bold initiatives taken by the Scottish Government to tackle the problem of climate change. Including emissions from all six greenhouse gases and emissions from international aviation and shipping within their targets shows how seriously they take this issue."