Scottish Government faces ‘crucial credibility test’ as world experts arrive in Scotland for talks on climate-induced loss and damage

  • 09 Oct 2022
  • General News

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) says the Scottish Government faces a ‘crucial credibility test’ ahead of hosting this week’s international conference in Edinburgh on addressing climate-induced loss and damage.  

SCCS is urging First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to make an explicit commitment to urgently examine new spending and tax options to boost investment in climate action in Scotland, while financing Scotland’s support to communities facing losses and damages as a result of the climate crisis. 

They say new investment – such as rapidly insulating homes and significantly expanding free public transport – will simultaneously help address the climate and cost of living crises, and that this new investment must be paid for by the highest polluters to deliver climate justice and to encourage them to reduce their emissions. 

The First Minister is due to open the two-day conference on Tuesday (Oct 11 and 12) involving global climate experts, representatives of states and regions, and investors. It will explore how new finance to address climate-induced loss and damage should be raised, where it is most needed, and what it should fund. 

At COP26 in Glasgow, the Scottish Government became the first government in the world to dedicate funding, £2 million, to addressing loss and damage. The move was hailed by campaigners as breaking the “taboo” on the issue, however key questions remain as to the source of finance globally, with estimates that the costs associated with loss and damage will range from $290bn to $580 billion in developing countries alone by 2030. This will be one of the biggest issues on the table at COP27 in Egypt next month.

Last week, SCCS published “Financing Climate Justice: Fiscal measures for climate action in a time of crisis”, by the independent environmental consultant, Dr Richard Dixon, a former Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland and WWF Scotland. It examines how fiscal measures can be used better to deliver Scotland’s climate ambitions, as well as potential new measures to raise more finance and to enable the public and businesses to reduce emissions.

It acknowledges the deep financial pressures created by the cost-of-living crisis and argues that actions to tackle it must complement those required to avert deeper climate chaos. Some could be implemented immediately or quickly; others would need detailed consultation and analysis. 

The report, which also includes recommendations for the UK Governments and local authorities, argues that policymakers must adopt a ‘polluter pays’ approach – meaning that those responsible for climate emissions should pay for the cost to society. It also considers the potential speed of implementation and stresses the importance of protecting those on low incomes.

SCCS says the First Minister should now announce a short-life, independent working group to report to Ministers on the recommendations and commit to identifying new and additional sources of finance via a polluter pays approach. 

Becky Kenton-Lake, Coalition Manager of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, said: “The First Minister has shown leadership on the need for rich, high polluting nations to commit financial support to communities facing devastating losses and damages because of the climate crisis. Importantly, she has said that this is not an act of charity, but one of reparation.

“These talks in Edinburgh will help to create much-needed momentum ahead of COP27 in Egypt, where rich nations must agree to the creation of a new global finance facility to address spiralling losses and damages.

“However, by hosting these talks, the Scottish Government faces a crucial credibility test, and it must show it is also willing to walk the talk by investing more in climate action in Scotland, financed in ways that make polluters pay. 

“We’re nearly three years into this critical decade of climate action and, after a damaging hat-trick of missed emissions targets, Scotland must urgently build on the pandemic-related dip by significantly accelerating investment. 

“It would be incoherent for Scotland to show this important global leadership on addressing loss and damage created by the climate crisis whilst at the same time creating yet more of it due to our own emissions. We must confront the reality that we need to raise significant new finance, in fair ways, to invest in faster climate action.”

Loss and damage finance is on the provisional agenda for COP27 in Egypt, with rich, high-polluting nations under pressure to back long-standing calls by low-income countries for a new finance facility on loss and damage.

Professor Saleemul Huq, a leading global campaigner who described the First Minister as the “true leader” to have emerged at COP26 on the issue of loss and damage, says the Scottish Government can again apply significant pressure on formal state parties to the UNFCCC, including the UK, by showing it is willing to use Scotland’s devolved powers to their maximum. 

Prof. Saleemul Huq, Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh, who will be speaking at the conference in Edinburgh, said:

“This conference in Edinburgh demonstrates that the Scottish Government remains committed to standing in solidarity with communities facing devastating climate impacts and it’s an example that all rich, high-polluting nations must now emulate in the upcoming COP27 talks in Egypt. 

“We need the governments of these nations to ensure they are doing everything possible to reduce their emissions, and the way they raise and spend money is a critical lever to drive that change. 

“Scotland should demonstrate that it is willing to take the next step and raise significant new revenues to invest in faster climate action at home, while also financing its welcome contributions to climate justice internationally. 

“The world badly needs climate leaders, and now is the time for the Scottish Government not just to speak, but also to act at scale and speed.” 

Overall, SCCS says the UK and Scottish Government, and local authorities, must use their fiscal powers to:  

  • incentivise emissions reduction, including by enabling behaviour change while protecting those on low-incomes; 
  • increase the overall funds available to spend on activities which accelerate emissions reduction, in a socially and climate just manner, to ensure, as a minimum, that Scotland’s legal targets are achieved; 
  • raise current and additional funding to deliver climate justice at home and globally by making polluters pay, including acknowledging that higher emissions are linked, on average, to an individual’s level of wealth.  

Becky Kenton-Lake added: “None of us can afford further delay, least of all those losing their lives, homes and livelihoods due to increasingly severe and frequent extreme weather, whether communities facing devastating floods in Pakistan, the millions facing hunger across East Africa, and beyond.  

“The First Minister has a golden opportunity to bolster the Scottish Government’s international leadership by showing it is serious about meeting our own emission reduction targets, while supporting those already being hit hardest.”