Scotland’s Climate Assembly: letter from Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport to UK Government

Letter from Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, Michael Matheson, to the Minister for Business, Energy, and Clean Growth, Greg Hands, on the recommendations of Scotland’s Climate Assembly.

As you know, the Scottish Government is wholly committed to ending Scotland’s contribution to climate change by 2045, and doing so in a way that is just and leaves no-one behind.

As part of this, our Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019, included provisions for Scottish Ministers to establish a citizens’ assembly on climate change.

Scotland’s Climate Assembly met between November 2020 and March 2021. They considered evidence from experts and deliberated on how Scotland should change to tackle the climate emergency in an effective and fair way; culminating in the publication of 81 recommendations. It also sought the views, experiences and priorities of children through a unique partnership with Scotland’s Children’s Parliament.

The full report of the Assembly was laid in the Scottish Parliament on 23 June 2021, and included the children’s 42 calls to action, along with the 81 Assembly recommendations. In December 2021, we published a comprehensive, cross-government response. We were pleased to confirm our support for the vast majority of the Assembly’s recommendations, many of which are already helping shape our approach.

We are exceedingly proud of the work of Scotland’s Climate Assembly and Children’s Parliament. This work will continue to play a pivotal role in our journey to becoming a net zero nation. However, there are a number of recommendations where the Scottish Government cannot act alone and where further discussion with yourself to explore cooperation would be valuable.

Many of the areas highlighted for action by the Climate Assembly, require UK Government action, and are critical to the delivery of Scotland’s targets given the current balance of devolved and reserved powers. These include, but are not limited to the fiscal and pricing elements of emissions trading, decisions on the gas grid, investment in the electricity network infrastructure, regulation on energy networks, vehicle standards, motoring taxes and the regulation of renewable energy investment. The vast majority of tax and fiscal powers, including many of those that relate to recommendations made by Assembly members, are reserved. 

Given our shared interests and ambition in the transition to net zero and building on ongoing dialogue around cooperation, I would therefore welcome the opportunity to discuss the Assembly recommendations with you. I propose that we explore how best we approach this at the Net Zero Interministerial Group meeting taking place in late March.

I have copied this letter to Julie James MS, Minister for Climate Change in Wales, Edwin Poots MLA, Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister for Northern Ireland, Gordon Lyons MLA, Economy Minister for Northern Ireland, Lucy Frazer MP, Financial Secretary (HM Treasury), and in accordance with our commitment to transparency and accountability, a copy of this letter will also be published on the website.

Yours Sincerely,

Michael Matheson MSP

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