It’s official - Scotland is going to struggle to hit its 2030 climate target… and every single one of us could do more to help.

Professor Piers Forster, the interim chair of the climate change committee, pointed out this week that although Scotland has laudable ambitions to decarbonize, it isn't enough to set a target, and went on to say that Scotland’s 2030 target, even this early in 2024, is no longer achievable. 

The government must act. We have been saying this for the last few years. Scottish Government were quick to declare a climate emergency, but they have been unbelievably slow to enact any significant change to respond to this emergency. As a consequence it has been one of the worst kept secrets in Scotland that the 2030 targets, which were only set five years ago, are massively off track and that it will require a Herculean effort to get us there.   This doesn’t really come as a surprise to many, because we have seen very little progress since 2019.    It feels like the last significant thing the Government have delivered on climate change was the 2019 Act. 

We haven't seen enough delivery in Agriculture and Land Use – putting off commitments and recently reducing the proportion of grant that is targeted at reducing carbon footprints. We haven't seen enough delivery in transport. We haven't seen enough delivery to decarbonize heat, or to minimise wasted energy in buildings and the policy process is slow and reluctant.  Nobody, and no political party, has done enough.   But this issue is not political – it is a scientific and moral issue and therefore should not be a political football.

And it isn't just government that are failing to prioritise action. A lot of corporates and industry, who queued up to make Net Zero commitments during COP 26 in Glasgow have largely backtracked, and backpedalled.  In fact, every single one of us could do more.  We need to start taking responsibility, and see some real leadership on this issue or we will all lose.

For five years, there has been too little action on climate change. There is no funding for climate change mitigation. And there's little political appetite for anyone to stick their neck out and actually make things happen.  But rather than simply attribute blame, we need to see this moment as a rallying call to step up our game and start treating this issue with the gravity it deserves.   After all, the vast majority of people in this country want more action to avoid worsening climate change. 

As the UK CCC report concurs, we need to see a single cohesive climate change delivery plan, which shows some progress towards hitting these targets, and it needs to be committed to paper sooner rather than later. 

Every political party voted for the 2019 targets, but have failed to deliver (or actively blocked) action ever since.  Every party needs to be challenged as to how it is helping to deliver against those targets and not hampering those efforts.

Scotland already set out to show leadership in this space.  To change our minds on this now will undermine more than a decade of positive leadership.

We don’t just urgently need a plan, we also need the funding to deliver the plan.  We need more education to understand the need for these actions.  And we need to see the commitment to see them through.  SCCS produced a manifesto of asks for climate action last year.  Government largely knows what it needs to do, we’re just not doing it.  If we continue to fail to deliver, we will quickly get to a point where we can neither afford to act nor to protect society from the worst impacts of growing climate change.

Since the targets were set in 2019 thousands of weather records have tumbled around the globe and the impacts of climate change on people and nature have accelerated faster than scientists predicted.  The need for urgent and strong action is now even greater.  The 2019 targets were set on the basis of climate science, aiming to deliver Scotland’s fair contribution of keeping the global temperature rise below 1.5C.  Any retreat from these targets would fail hundreds of millions of people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened.

Climate Change was rightly declared an emergency back in 2019.  Our failure to deliver any meaningful progress in the five years since means it's now an urgent crisis. We should all be demanding better.