This month many constituents got in touch about climate change and the enormous crisis we are creating for future generations.
I just recently had a baby daughter, so I am acutely aware of your fears over your young children’s future. The climate emergency is the biggest existential threat that any of us have ever faced. It is crucial we begin to take radical action.
I believe we need faster action to create the well-paid green jobs that our communities need and bolder action on improving standards and protecting habitats and species, so we can strengthen our economy and rebuild our country.
I am clear that 2050 is too late for the UK to end its contribution to climate breakdown and runaway global heating. According to the UN, we have less than ten years left to avoid the worst impacts of catastrophic climate change. Our government must act with far greater urgency and ambition. I am determined that the UK must show global leadership on this issue, and that starts with ambitious action at home. I believe we should aim to achieve the substantial majority of our emissions reductions by 2030 and that we need to do so through a world-leading Green New Deal.
I previously had two Private Members Bills that I presented to the House of Commons on fully decarbonising the UKs energy supply by 2030. These became Labour policy and were included in the subsequent election manifesto.
I also worked cross Party with the Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael on the More United plastics free oceans campaign. We led that campaign and it was hugely successful. I’ve also been involved in climate impact training with MPs in the South Pacific islands as these islands, such as Vanuatu, will be hugely impacted.
Almost all environmental policy is devolved to the Scottish Parliament so it is up to the Scottish government to legislate on it.
The Scottish Parliament passed the Climate Change Act which sets a target date for net-zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045, with interim targets for reductions, including 75% by 2030. I pay tribute to my colleagues in the Scottish Parliament for their work in delivering a stronger and fairer Act. Going forward, these targets must be matched with bold, equitable and radical action from the Scottish Government.
However, the most recent analysis of the Committee on Climate Change most recent analysis indicates that meeting Scotland’s legislated 2030 target of 75% emissions reduction will be extremely challenging, and may not be feasible. Experts say much of the current progress has been accomplished by picking off the “low hanging fruit” – the most cost effective or publicly-acceptable changes to make.
The Scottish Government has a track record of failure after it missed its own climate targets for the second year in a row, with greenhouse gas emissions on the rise. Figures released over the summer showed that source emissions increased by 1.5 per cent in 2018 and, over the same time period, emissions from fossil fuel increased by 51 per cent. Emissions from homes increased by 3 per cent and the transport sector remains the largest source of emissions in Scotland. It is indisputable that the Scottish Government’s agenda of massive road investment at the expense of public transport, cycling and walking has failed.
If we are to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030, we must see radical, transformative change now, to meet targets over the next decade. Having the most ambitious targets means nothing if the Scottish Government continues to fail to meet them.
Indeed, Nicola Sturgeon has shown her wavering commitment to the climate crisis in recent days by refusing to condemn the opening of the Cambo oil field in Shetland. Greenpeace and other similar charities have condemned her for inaction and only participating in PR stunts.
Labour leader, Keir Starmer, pledged the party’s commitment to climate action, stating:
“The biggest threat we now face is not climate denial but climate delay. Those who, like our Prime Minister, acknowledge there is a problem, but simply don’t have the scale of ambition required to match the moment. Our communities and planet can no longer afford the inaction of this government, who are failing to treat the crisis with the seriousness it deserves. A Labour government would deliver the action we need to drive down emissions, with progressive solutions for our citizens, and leadership on the international stage to ensure a global effort to tackle the climate and nature crisis and limit global heating to 1.5 degrees.”
I have also been running events for constituents in the run up to COP 26 with the aim of producing a local COP26 manifesto from the residents of Edinburgh South. I will also be partaking in COP26 fully on a number of platforms.