Five today... Scotland's Climate Change Act

Posted by Jamie Livingstone Head of Oxfam Scotland

24th Jun 2014

Today marks five years since Scotland passed our world leading climate change legislation. 

To mark the anniversary, MSPs joined some of the charities - including Oxfam Scotland and Stop Climate Chaos Scotland - that campaigned for the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 for an event at the Scottish Parliament.

But we know the Act would never have come about without the support of thousands of people across Scotland who pushed our politicians into action - so much so the Act was passed unanimously. 

Find out more about how the Act came about here.

The Act commits us to cutting emissions by 42% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. Those targets are the strongest anywhere in the world - that's something of which we are rightly proud.

But passing strong legislation was only ever the beginning. So, five years on, how are we doing in cutting our emissions?

Well, the Act includes annual targets and two weeks ago we learned Scotland exceeded the 2012 emission limit. Worryingly, it is the third year in a row we have missed our target.

That's not great news but, below that headline, there are more encouraging signs - as explained in this blog

Overall, Scotland's emissions are falling and there is ongoing cross party support for Scotland to hit our 2020 target. That's just as well, because we'll be keeping the pressure on.

So, as the act marks its fifth birthday, here are five reasons why it remains so important:

1) Doing nothing isn't an option

Climate change is already affecting some of the world's poorest most and we know that's likely to get worse. We cannot stand aside and continue emitting when we know that climate change is making people hungry.

2) Scotland must lead by example

Our emissions only account for a small percentage of global emissions, but our high ambition can help inspire other countries into action. Next year we're seeking an ambitious new global climate deal to be agreed during talks in Paris but Scotland's example will only be a credible if we meet our targets.

3) For The Love Of...

When it comes to climate change there is no shortage of facts and figures but, put simply, we all have something we love that is, or will be, affected by climate change

4) We shouldn't give up just because it is hard

The Act's annual targets are crucial to keeping the pressure on the Scottish Government - year after year. Ministers know that missing targets is not good enough and have announced new measures which could help reduce our emissions in Scotland. Find out more.  

5) Because Exaveria says so...

As I found out, there's little climate justice for rice farmers like Exaveria Sangijo. The rain does still fall in Shinyanga, in northern Tanzania, but it does so less regularly and more randomly. But while the world's poorest people did little to cause climate change, they're often the most affected by it - watch Exaveria's story here

Today is an important milestone for the Climate Change Act and an opportunity, five years on, to say thank you for all your help in securing it.

But the Act's story is far from over and we hope you'll continue to push our politicians to deliver on Scotland's promises. We, and some of the world's poorest people, can't afford for us not to.

Blog post written by Jamie Livingstone

Head of Oxfam Scotland

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