The world is in a climate crisis. Never has there been a greater need for good ideas to reduce emissions here and at home. I was lucky enough to be involved in the creation of a Climate Manifesto for Stop Climate Chaos Scotland.
With 2023 heading to be the warmest year ever, UN Secretary General António Guterres has called on the world’s nations to “massively fast-track climate efforts by every country and every sector and on every timeframe.”
SCCS has more than 60 members organisations and I worked with them and their allies to draw together ideas from disability, conservation, environment, gender, poverty, religious and union groups.
There are 119 policies in the Manifesto. 57% of these ideas Scottish government can deliver directly, 21% are for local authorities and the rest for the UK government and the international community.
The Scottish Government is right now creating a new Climate Change Plan, the statutory document which spells out how we will meet future climate targets, including reaching net-zero emissions by 2045. The previous version was roundly criticised, including by the government’s own advisors, for not showing the detail of how much policies would achieve. The government’s own analysis shows that the current plan will not deliver Scotland’s climate targets.
The SCCS climate manifesto is based on some important principles. There must be equity at home and in making a fair contribution globally. The polluter pays principle means that those who have created the most climate pollution must pay the most to reduce emissions whether that’s rich people taking many flights a year or rich countries continuing to produce new oil and gas despite the climate emergency. And finally there must be a just transition from our high-carbon economy to a zero-carbon economy, with no worker and no community left behind.
The Manifesto has policies on the economy, energy, buildings, transport, land use, forestry, agriculture, marine and the public sector.
Of course a top priority should be to deliver on the policies already in the existing climate change plan, including making up for the fact that proposed carbon capture and storage schemes will fail to make any meaningful difference any time soon. Another priority is to maintain and expand our financial assistance through the Climate Justice Fund to poorer countries who already feeling much more of the impacts of climate change that we are.
On transport, we should halt all new trunk road and motorway building, we should extend free bus travel to every citizen and we should introduce a frequent flyer levy which would penalise those who fly multiple times a year.
On energy, we should set a date to cease fossil fuel production and use, and end the granting of any new licenses – the opposite of the UK Government’s recent actions. We should do even more to insulate people’s homes and switch to zero-carbon heating systems, reducing emissions, cutting bills and making homes healthier.
Whether it is in creating the new Climate Change Plan or in coming UK, Scottish and local elections, the Climate Manifesto is a treasure trove of good ideas to help us meet our targets and help other countries cope with the devastating impacts of climate change.
A version of this article appeared in the Scotsman newspaper on 1st November 2023.