When we first set out to update the 2018 Climate Change Plan, to outline the pathway to delivery of our ambitious climate change targets, we never imagined it would be published in the midst of a global pandemic. The impacts of COVID-19 are profound; a public health, economic and social crisis. The challenges we face as a country to recover from it are unprecedented.
In this context, it is clear that the challenge of meeting our emissions reductions targets becomes more difficult. COVID-19 has affected every aspect of our lives, with thousands of people losing their jobs and businesses in distress; and a fundamental shift in how we live and work in our local communities, towns and cities. We are witnessing war-time levels of lending and significant pressure on budgets, especially on devolved budgets where we lack the necessary financial levers.
Amid the enormous challenges of the global pandemic, the climate emergency has not gone away – far from it – and the Scottish Government remains absolutely committed to ending Scotland’s contribution to climate change by 2045 in a just and fair way. Indeed, it is central to our recovery. We have the opportunity to design a better future and, coming out of the pandemic, put things back together differently.
That is why we have committed to a ‘green recovery’ from COVID-19, one which captures the opportunities of our just transition to net zero. That means creating green jobs, developing sustainable skills and nurturing wellbeing. This approach recognises climate change as a human rights issue and the transition to net zero as an opportunity to tackle inequalities. 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. Our last two Programmes for Government have committed to delivering a Green New Deal, setting out how the investments we are making will support this holistic and fair transformation of our economy in the coming decades, leading to greater prosperity and social outcomes. This Climate Change Plan update builds on that work and sets out the actions we are taking to make this Deal a reality through our green recovery. The prize of achieving this is a better world – a more equal world, a world of greater opportunities, and a natural environment that is vibrant and diverse.
We have developed our approach based on the advice and contributions received from the Climate Change Committee, Just Transition Commission, Advisory Group on Economic Recovery, Climate Emergency Response Group, Scottish Science Advisory Council and the Sustainable Renewal Advisory Group.
This update to the 2018 Climate Change Plan sets out bold actions, which together chart our pathway to our new emissions reduction targets out to 2032. This journey will not be easy, and will need to be a truly national endeavour with business, communities, and individuals contributing fully. It will require us to be innovative, to learn as we are going and to utilise new and exciting technologies and ideas. It will also mean supporting individuals and businesses to adapt their choices and behaviours, as set out in our new Public Engagement Strategy: ‘Net Zero Nation: Draft Public Engagement Strategy for Climate Change’. This Plan update therefore gives clear signals of where we are going, what the Scottish Government is doing to enable us to get there and how others can contribute.
Looking ahead to the UN Climate Conference, COP26, that will take place in Glasgow in 2021, we are also reminded that not only do we need a truly national endeavour, we also need this spirit and commitment to be applied internationally. This plan sets out areas where we are already collaborating with our global partners; but also provides a foundation to strengthen and deepen our engagement with other countries, states and regions around the world.
Over and above the impacts of COVID-19, we are also facing the impacts of EU Exit, a set of circumstances which is not of Scotland’s choosing. As we move to a new relationship, we remain committed to a deep and close partnership with the EU, its Member States and other European actors, and indeed to Scotland re-joining the bloc as an independent country. We believe this plan can support that important collaboration.
The scale of the challenge ahead, both to rebuild our economy in the wake of COVID-19, and to deliver our world-leading climate change targets, is unprecedented. However, we know the huge opportunities that a transition to a fairer, more sustainable and greener economy can bring for Scotland, including in creating green jobs and wellbeing for everyone. We are therefore determined to grasp these opportunities and transform our country for the better. This Climate Change Plan update is a vital step in this process, ahead of the next full Plan, to be completed by early 2025.
Roseanna Cunningham MSP Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform
Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon First Minister of Scotland
John Swinney MSP Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills
Aileen Campbell MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government
Michael Russell MSP
Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Europe and External Affairs
Fiona Hyslop MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture
Kate Forbes MSP Cabinet Secretary for Finance
Jeane Freeman MSP Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport
Humza Yousaf MSP Cabinet Secretary for Justice
Fergus Ewing MSP Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism
Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People
Michael Matheson MSP Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity