Media Release: Legal move on climate change announced

MARK Ruskell says the new law would go a long way to tackling Scotland’s poor record on climate pollution and would help improve Scotland’s reputation worldwide as a responsible member of the world community.

The Green legislation is in support of a new campaign being promoted by Radiohead front man Thom Yorke and Friends of the Earth called the ‘Big Ask’. Launched in advance of the G8 – the campaign is seen as a crucial step in getting politicians to take the issue of climate change seriously.

A similar Bill proposal has already been proposed and backed by Labour, Libdem and Tory MPs at Westminster – including former government ministers, Michael Meacher and John Gummer, as well as LibDem environment speaker, Norman Baker – and the Scottish Greens say that their ‘Big Ask in Scotland’ proposal would set Scotland onto the right track if those same political parties got behind the idea here.

The ‘Big Ask’ argues that with the technology and policies available to reduce emissions by around three per cent every year – politicians should be legally accountable for making sure action is taken.

Mark Ruskell MSP, who argued for the parliamentary inquiry into climate change as deputy convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Environment Committee, said:

“The eyes of the world will be on Scotland this G8 summer and we have to show a better example to the rest of the world of how to tackle climate change – our record so far has been lamentable.

“Scotland has to be part of the solution to climate change, not the problem. This bill sets a challenge to ministers and all politicians – if you say you are prepared to act, are you also prepared to be held accountable for your promises?

“It might be a Big Ask, but I’m asking MSPs of all parties to get behind this new bill to ensure we get real action by Scottish Ministers to tackle climate change. Climate change targets cannot be avoided and failure to tackle the problem is unthinkable.”

The Bill would mean that by law Scottish Ministers would have to set targets for reducing climate changing pollution in Scotland, using the full range of powers available to the Scottish Executive such as planning, transport, energy, housing, education and agriculture to reduce pollution levels to reach the legal target.

The Bill proposal and consultation paper has been submitted to the Parliament’s Bill’s unit and the consultation paper will be circulated widely.

Ministers would have to regularly report, probably on an annual basis, on their progress towards meeting those targets. A full analysis would be required and if particular policies were leading to the failure to meet targets then changes would have to be brought forward by ministers for scrutiny in Parliament. The Greens’ consultation document invites alternative suggestions from anyone interested in getting to grips with the problem.

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