Climate campaigners respond to Scottish Government’s Programme for Government 2023: 

  • 05 Sep 2023
  • General News

Welcome positive statements – but concerning lack of actual new commitments

Responding to today’s announcement of the new Scottish Government Programme for Government “Equality, Opportunity, Community”, Mike Robinson, Chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) said:

“While the First Minister’s general commitments to show ‘climate leadership’ and address the crisis were welcome, the Programme for Government offered few, if any, new measures to deliver emissions’ reductions. In the context of Scotland missing annual targets in eight of the past twelve years, and the Committee on Climate Change advising that “the integrity of the Scottish climate framework is now at risk”, this is deeply disappointing and a missed opportunity to set out concrete measures to reduce emissions.

“It failed to reflect the urgency that’s needed, and there is a stark risk that if we don’t take faster action now, we will struggle to get anywhere near our 2030 climate target. It puts even more pressure on the upcoming revised Climate Change Plan, which must move beyond the positive rhetoric of today’s Programme for Government and contain meaningful new policies, initiatives and actions.

“SCCS welcomes the Cabinet Secretary’s intention to ‘host, with the First Minister, a meeting with key stakeholders to discuss ways forward to meet our climate ambitions ahead of COP28’. This meeting must deliver committed action, not more warm words.”

As the 2023/24 Programme for Government was being prepared, SCCS submitted a number of ideas for consideration. These sought to underline, develop and build on existing commitments, both in policy and under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, as amended. They would help to ensure Scotland meets its emissions’ reduction targets as a minimum, bolster its leadership, in the UK and internationally, on action to address climate change and champion climate justice, and deliver co-benefits for health, wellbeing, jobs and tackling inequality. 

Of these nine ideas, the commitment to host a ‘summit’ has been included, but the other issues are essentially to be addressed, either by the new Climate Change Plan or by other ongoing actions, such as the Energy Strategy, the Agriculture Bill or the Action Plan on traffic reduction. All these processes are already underway and have been long promised – but the Programme for Government makes no new commitments as to what, and how, they will deliver in terms of actions. For instance, there is no mention of oil and gas – and there is no indication as to whether or not the Energy Strategy will confirm the proposal, in the draft, for a presumption against new oil and gas developments.