Publication - Consultation paper

Developing an environment strategy for Scotland: discussion paper

Published: 29 Jun 2018
Environment and Forestry Directorate
Part of:
Environment and climate change

Discussion paper inviting input to the development of an environment strategy for Scotland, with a series of supporting knowledge accounts.

Developing an environment strategy for Scotland: discussion paper
Tackling global environmental challenges

Tackling global environmental challenges

This century must see an urgent scaling-up of action to tackle global environmental challenges – climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, resource depletion and waste – to safeguard the wellbeing and prosperity of people around the globe, and the natural world we belong to. Current patterns of consumption and production are simply not sustainable. If everyone in the world lived as we currently do in Scotland, it would require the resources of more than three planets. We need to adapt to prosper – socially, economically and environmentally – within planetary limits: to work towards a world where no country uses more resources than the Earth can support and to replenish the natural systems that sustain us. This transformation will require commitment, collaboration, innovation and political leadership.

As the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals[16] make clear, these environmental challenges are deeply connected to our economic and social wellbeing. They have profound implications for human health, food security, equality and political stability. They will be some of the defining issues of this century. That many of the worst effects of these challenges will be faced by the poorest nations and communities places an even greater moral responsibility on developed economies like Scotland to take action. Most can only be addressed through coordinated international action. Scotland is committed to playing its full part as a responsible global citizen and international partner.

Driving the transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy is not only a moral responsibility, it presents strong opportunities for Scotland's economic and social prosperity. The UN Paris Agreement will help open up an estimated $23 trillion worth of economic opportunities between now and 2030. It also offers important opportunities to improve human health and wellbeing. For example, reducing reliance on petrol and diesel vehicles will increase air quality and encourage active lifestyles. The Scottish Government's 2017/18 Programme for Government sets out bold commitments on energy, low-carbon infrastructure, circular economy, sustainable transport, low emission zones and carbon capture and storage to ensure that Scotland grasps these opportunities. We want to establish Scotland as the best place in the world to invest in low- carbon business and technologies, attracting and retaining the researchers, designers, and innovators that will shape the low-carbon, resource efficiency transition. We will also establish a Just Transition Commission, to ensure the transition supports social justice, protecting livelihoods and helping to create a fairer and more equal nation.