Press release: Climate and nature groups urge next First Minister to ‘urgently pick up the pace’ in tackling environmental crises

  • 06 Mar 2023
  • Press Release

Coalitions representing over 100 Scottish organisations have written to the SNP leadership candidates urging them to ‘pick up the pace’ of action to tackle the climate and nature crises if they become Scotland’s next First Minister.

In the letter, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland and Scottish Environment LINK call on the three candidates to publicly state their commitment to strong action on climate and nature, while setting out the meaningful new actions they would take to deliver faster progress.

The letter acknowledges the positive steps taken under Nicola Sturgeon’s Government, such as passing ambitious climate targets, providing international leadership on wildlife protection and committing finance to help address climate change-induced Loss and Damage. 

However, the organisations say the next First Minister must build on these steps by delivering significantly deeper and faster action to reduce emissions in line with Scotland’s legal targets and to protect and restore nature, while championing climate justice and delivering an accelerated Just Transition – alongside an unequivocal stance against any new oil and gas licences in the North Sea.

It comes after the Scottish Government’s independent climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, warned that Scotland’s climate targets are “in danger of becoming meaningless” and voiced strong concern about the lack of a clear emissions delivery plan.

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

“Scotland’s next First Minister must renew and deepen Scotland’s status as a credible climate champion both at home and internationally.

“While Scotland is seen by many as a leader on climate, the reality is that progress has been nowhere near fast enough. With seven of the last 11 emission reduction targets missed, all three candidates to be the next First Minister should publicly commit to prioritising climate action and that they would urgently pick up the pace of delivering solutions, if elected.

“The good news is that many of these positive changes bring wider benefits and would also address the other overlapping crises we face, through making our homes warmer, tackling inequality and securing more sustainable jobs.”

Deborah Long, Chief Officer at Scottish Environment LINK, said:

“Protecting our environment is the biggest challenge facing humanity, and it’s essential that those seeking to be First Minister commit to treating the planet as a priority.

“This is a vital decade for action – and there are enormous opportunities for Scotland to restore iconic habitats and protect the abundance and diversity of our wildlife.  

“We all depend on a healthy natural environment, and nature is the first line of defence against climate change. But Scotland has suffered a high rate of historic nature loss and faces even bigger threats today.

“We hope that all political leaders can embrace this challenge“

The letter identifies several key opportunities for the new First Minister to drive action on climate and nature, such as the Scottish Government’s new Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan, the upcoming Climate Change Plan and reform to agricultural support. Additionally, to fund these measures and contribute to international climate justice, the organisations emphasise the need to review the fiscal measures available to raise new and additional sources of finance by making polluters pay for their damage.

Mike Robinson concluded:

“People in Scotland are greatly concerned about the climate and nature crises and want to see action. The next First Minister must build on the positive – but as yet insufficient – steps made, by delivering the transformational changes we need to see, and by positioning Scotland as a true leader in delivering for climate and nature.” 


The open letter can be viewed here.

The response from Humza Yousaf MSP on 8th March can be viewed here.