Chapter 1


This climate manifesto of policy proposals has been drawn together from across the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland coalition’s 60+ diverse members, with additional input from other Scottish groups and networks.  The document’s ambition is shared by every SCCS member, large and small, and it represents the most comprehensive set of climate change policies ever assembled by civil society in Scotland.

Adopting the policies in this document would put Scotland on track to deliver the real reductions in climate change that the planet needs and to make our fair contribution to helping other countries deal with climate change in their own ways.

The Scottish Government has acknowledged the twin climate change and nature emergencies.  In the last 15 years the Scottish Parliament has passed two climate acts, both with tough emissions reduction targets and the Scottish Government has called this time – the 2020s – the ‘decade of delivery’ on climate change.1  The Climate Justice Fund has also been helping people in Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia to adapt to the changing climate for more than a decade, and now seeks to support action to address the losses and damages created as a consequence of rising temperatures.

But, on too many fronts, we are not delivering.  We are missing our annual targets and the Scottish Government’s own monitoring shows we are off track for our 2030 and 2045 targets, with nine out of 43 outcome indicators off track and a further 13 classified as ‘too early to tell.’  Overall, less than half of all these indicators are definitively on track.2

The world has but little time to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. At the time of writing we have record heatwaves in southern Europe and the US, following on from April temperatures in Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Algeria reaching those expected only in July and August, and wildfires burning across massive areas of Canada polluting the eastern USA, the hottest days ever in Laos, Thailand and Vietnam and the sea ice around Antarctica at a record low – a record only set last year.  Temperatures in the UK have topped 40 degrees Celsius for the first time, and Scotland experienced its warmest ever June.

Meanwhile the long-running drought in Eastern Africa – one that scientists say would not have happened without climate change – has left over 40 million people facing severe hunger in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda and South Sudan3 and the clean up continues from 2022’s summer floods in Pakistan, estimated to have cost more than $43bn and affected 33 million people.

The World Meteorological Organisation recently warned that the world is likely to breach the crucial 1.5ºC temperature threshold, albeit temporarily, in the next few years,4 driven by the current El Niño warming phenomenon.

The 2023 IPCC Synthesis Report stressed the rapidly closing window of opportunity to keep the world below the 1.5ºC threshold of the most dangerous levels of heating.  The UN Secretary General António Guterres said we need to do “everything, everywhere, all at once” to reduce emissions5, and called for all developed economies to aim for net zero by as close as possible to 2040. Scotland has already made large reductions in emissions and has more ambitious targets than many other countries, so it is reasonable to expect that Scotland could heed these calls and could be among the first nations to commit to a target of net zero by 2040 at the latest. This more ambitious target would also help ensure that our climate action to reduce emissions is more proportionate to Scotland’s fair share of historical emissions.6 However, this should not distract from the strong delivery needed to meet the 2030 target.

Scotland’s actual emissions and targets 1990-2045 (MtCO2e)

Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions as reported up to 2021 and our targets from the 2019 Climate Act7

All countries, but particularly rich, industrialised nations who caused and continue to deepen the climate crisis, must do more to limit temperature rises, and the damage they create – every fraction of a degree of warming will be counted in lives ruined or lost.

Scotland must build on its strong international reputation on climate change and play its full  part in this global effort.  But to do so from a position of credibility, Scotland needs to do much more – more to deliver on what has already been promised and more to increase our ambition further.  It must confront this challenge in ways that realise its commitments to climate justice – justice for those impacted by the damage our emissions are creating, and justice in the way we reduce our emissions, including protecting those on low incomes and making polluters pay for their pollution.

Ensuring delivery of domestic commitments needs faster and stronger activity under the existing plans.  Our plans should also link the Scottish Government’s work on domestic and international issues, providing a comprehensive and credible policy platform on climate change, as well as addressing the climate impacts of our imports and exports.  In driving a Just Transition away from fossil fuels, Scotland must make sure that policies and programmes simultaneously address poverty and inequality, in Scotland and overseas.  After all, the climate crisis is caused by inequality; it’s causing more inequality; and the response to it could – if not purposefully designed to be just and equitable – entrench inequality. As well as protecting us from some of the challenges a changing climate brings, adopting these policies would also help create jobs, boost the economy and make our society fairer and healthier.

Scotland’s territorial emissions 1990-2021

Historical emissions from activity in Scotland by sector plus international aviation and shipping, in millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) 8

Scotland’s emissions by sector in 2021

Where Scotland’s emissions came from in 2021

Early and extensive public engagement is essential to communicate the benefits of climate action and ensure that new policies are understood and well received.

These proposals are not motivated by dogma:  they are instead driven by the need to confront an existential threat in ways that address the deep injustices at the heart of this crisis.

We urge decision makers at every level to support the policies in this document so that, together, we can address the climate emergency with the urgency it requires.


Cabinet Secretary Michael Matheson at launch of Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan at COP26, November 2021.


Hunger in East Africa to hit new peak with one person likely to die every 28 seconds despite G7 pledge to end famine, Oxfam, May 2023,


World likely to breach 1.5C climate threshold by 2027, scientists warn, Guardian, May 2023,


Secretary-General Calls on States to Tackle Climate Change ‘Time Bomb’ through New Solidarity Pact, Acceleration Agenda, at Launch of Intergovernmental Panel Report, UN, March 2023,


The ‘Fair Shares’ methodology is rooted in the science of carbon budgets and the principles of equity under the UNFCCC, see for example, Climate Fair Shares, FoE International,

Version 1.0: September 2023

The contents of this document will be updated on a regular basis.