Environment watchdog says Scottish Government’s next climate plan must avoid previous legal failings, following challenge by campaigners

  • 28 Feb 2024
  • Press Release

Today (Wednesday 28th February 2024) Scotland’s environment watchdog has outlined how the Scottish Government failed to comply with the law in the production of the last Climate Change Plan, and has issued recommendations on what needs to happen to improve the development of its next one later this year. 

Environmental Standards Scotland (ESS), an independent body set up to scrutinise, investigate and secure improvements in public authorities’ compliance with environmental law, has set out 6 recommendations in relation to the next Climate Change Plan based on their assessment of how the previous plan was produced and implemented. 

The investigation was sparked after Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, representing more than 60 organisations, asked the watchdog to investigate the effectiveness and implementation of the legal regime – the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 – amid deep concern that Scotland has missed eight out of the last 12 annual emission reduction targets. 

The Scottish Government is currently working on a draft new Climate Change Plan, which will outline its delivery plan for meeting the targets, including the legal 75% reduction by 2030 and 90% cut by 2040. Scottish Ministers delayed publishing the plan at the end of last year. 

Mike Robinson, Chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, said: 

“This report identifies serious failings in the way the Scottish Government’s current Climate Change Plan was developed. 

“We therefore warmly welcome the watchdog’s six positive recommendations for the next Climate Change Plan – a critical document that must now set out fair and fast new actions to get climate action in Scotland fully on track. 

“There can be no hiding from the fact that while progress to reduce Scotland’s emissions is being made, it’s not happening fast enough. As a result, we’ve missed eight out of the last 12 targets, and we’re off track to cut emissions by 75% by 2030. That can’t continue.

“The Scottish Government must quickly adopt and adhere to these recommendations, and in particular, ensure that the next Climate Change Plan clearly quantifies how their policies will contribute to emission reductions and ensure Scotland’s rightly ambitious climate targets are met.

“The recommendation that sufficient time is allowed for scrutiny of the draft Plan is also vital, so the final Plan properly takes into account recommendations from stakeholders.

“It’s clear that these were some of the critical failures to comply with legal requirements in the production of the last Plan, which is the blueprint for delivering Scotland’s emission cuts.

“Such failings led to a weaker, less effective Plan, likely contributing to failures to meet annual climate targets and, unless addressed, will mean future targets are in jeopardy.

“Only through ambitious action can Scotland reassert its global climate leadership and deliver a transition to a fairer, low carbon society.”