The scale of the challenges we have faced in 2020 has been unprecedented. It has been a year where we have appreciated what makes Scotland special: our people, our communities, and our values. Over the past few months, we have come together as a society to meet the challenge of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic – to safeguard our communities, save jobs, and save lives.
Throughout all of this, our commitment to climate change has never lessened. The context which we are working in has changed, but our commitment to our end goal of net zero emissions by 2045 has never wavered. Our climate change ambitions are at the heart of our recovery from the pandemic as we respond to the twin challenges of the climate emergency and biodiversity loss.
A green recovery is one that captures the opportunities for our just transition to net zero. That means creating green jobs, developing sustainable skills, and nurturing wellbeing. It is an approach that is fundamentally important to the future prosperity of our people and planet.
Put simply, a green recovery is our commitment to transition to net zero emissions in a way that is just, and that delivers a thriving, sustainable economy that works for all of us. The Climate Change Plan update, published alongside this strategy, sets out our policies and proposals to meet our future emissions reduction targets, and is an essential strategic document on our green recovery.
This year we have seen every aspect of our lives change: from how we work, how we travel, to how we keep in touch with people. This has provided an opportunity to do things differently, to re-imagine how our society and economy works. It is clear that our continued response to climate change must be a truly national endeavour and one in which everyone in Scotland has a role to play.
I have said all along that addressing climate change must be achieved by all of us, governments, communities, businesses, and individuals coming together to play our part. Recent months have shown what we can achieve when we act as one in response to a crisis. In this document we set out how we will continue to work with communities and the public to recover and rebuild in line with our net zero targets.
Expert advice has been clear that over 60% of measures to achieve net zero emissions will require some level of change in the way society operates. It is therefore more important than ever that society understands the nature and scale of the challenge and has the opportunity to shape decisions about our national approach.
This year we have established an independent Citizens' Assembly on Climate Change which brings together a representative group of around 100 people to provide public recommendations on Scotland's approach to climate change. We will learn from this experience and develop our approach as part of our commitment to being an Open Government.
Our efforts to both adapt to and mitigate climate change will fundamentally change the way we live. Some of this won't be easy, but these changes are required and will result in positive outcomes, for people, nature, and places as well as our planet. By making changes in partnership, I'm confident we can build a fairer and more sustainable society together.
Climate change does not just affect the people of Scotland – it is a global issue that requires global action. We also know that the impacts of climate change are not felt equally. People who have done the least to cause the problem are often most affected by it.
In November 2021, the UN Climate Summit – COP26 – will be held in Glasgow. It is critical that this summit is inclusive and the discussions and outcomes put people and communites at their centre. The opportunities for the people of Scotland to engage with the summit must accommodate activism, culture, and recognise individual action. Just as COP21 was synonymous with the Paris Agreement, I want COP26 to be a landmark in the global transition to net zero that is fair, just, and leaves no-one behind.
COVID-19 permitting, I want people to come to Glasgow and receive a warm Scottish welcome. I also want to play our part in creating the conditions for a successful summit by showing the breadth of action and leadership across Scotland. We need your help to do this. I encourage as many of you as possible to set an example for others to follow, adopt the changes needed to make Scotland a net zero nation, and work with us to make it happen.
We know that public support is crucial to successfully achieve the societal change required for net zero. As part of our commitment to collaborative policy-making, I am consulting on this draft strategy and look forward to hearing your views. I thank you in advance for your participation.
Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change
& Land Reform