MSPs must take action as climate change wreaks havoc, say environmental campaigners

25/07/2018
SeanBell

Arguing that the Scottish Government’s recent proposals are insufficient to tackle climate change, Friends of the Earth Scotland say that “decisions must be made today”

AS RECORD BREAKING temperatures are recorded across the world and thousands of Moray residents are offered free bottled water to combat the summer drought, environmental campaigners have argued that urgent action is required to combat climate change.

In light of wildfires in Greece which have killed at least 60 people, devastating flash floods in Laos which have led to hundreds dead or missing following a dam collapse, forest fires in Sweden that have reached the Arctic Circle and Japan’s declaration that the current heatwave constitutes a natural disaster, Friends of the Earth Scotland have challenged MSPs to take radical steps to strengthen the Scottish Government’s present environmental policies.

READ MORE: ‘Climate change is already here’: Experts say heatwaves should be wake-up call on impacts of global warming

As record-breaking temperatures are recorded over the past month, including parts of Canada, the United States, Algeria, Georgia, Japan and Australia, Scotland has seen similarly unseen heat levels in Glasgow and private water supplies being exhausted in Moray.

Earlier this month, Moray residents were advised to use water “wisely” by Scottish Water, with increased demand affecting the Badentinan water treatment works – which supplies homes in Elgin, Forres, Lossiemouth, Kinloss, Burghead, Rothes, Fochabers, Dufftown and Craigellachie.

“Some local people who use the private supplies have run out of drinking water, which is a basic human right.” Moray council leader Graham Leadbitter

This week, it was announced that thousands of Moray residents will be offered free bottled drinking water, supplied by Scottish Water, as private water supplies face running dry in the face of the ongoing drought.

While the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency has deemed the water levels in some parts of Moray as reaching the “significant scarcity” level, Moray Council is now setting up distribution points in Elgin and Aberlour to distribute the bottled water.

Council leader Graham Leadbitter has argued that, given the present situation, “it is only right for the council and other public bodies to ensure that there is a safe and steady supply of water for those who need it.”

“Some local people who use the private supplies have run out of drinking water, which is a basic human right.”

“MSPs from across the Parliament must strengthen the new law, and take action now for a rapid and just transition to a zero carbon economy.” Friends of the Earth Scotland climate campaigner Caroline Rance

Taking a wider view, Friends of the Earth Scotland Climate Campaigner Caroline Rance commented: “There is no doubt that the prolonged extreme temperatures and floods we are witnessing around the world right now are a result of climate change. Temperature records are being broken across the UK and globally, exactly as climate science has long warned, and with devastating consequences.

“We can no longer ignore the impacts of our changing climate, as wildfires rage in the Arctic circle and kill dozens in Greece, flash floods displace thousands in Laos, and Japan suffers from an extended heatwave. Increased global warming means that events like these will become much more powerful and more frequent in future, and nowhere, including Scotland, will be immune from the impacts.

READ MORE: Greens and environmentalists clash with Scottish Government over ‘timid’ climate change bill

“Both these headline-grabbing events and the slow motion disasters, such as droughts leading to crop failures, show that we have no time to waste in cutting climate emissions. We cannot afford to delay or pretend that ‘business as usual’ is still an option. Decisions must be made today to significantly cut our emissions within the next decade.”

Commenting on the Scottish Government’s draft climate change bill, Rance continued: “The Scottish Government’s recent proposals for a new climate law do almost nothing to increase action within the next ten years, despite this being the most crucial time for climate action. MSPs from across the Parliament must strengthen the new law, and take action now for a rapid and just transition to a zero carbon economy.”

The Scottish Government’s environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham responded: “Our climate change bill sets out our commitment to reduce emissions by 100 per cent with ambitious interim targets which strengthen Scotland’s world-leading position on climate change.

“Rather than have Scotland compare itself to the dangerously weak climate standards of the UK, we should be using Sweden, New Zealand and Iceland’s ambitious net zero emission targets as our inspiration.” Green MSP Ross Greer

“Our 90 per cent target will be tougher even than the 100 per cent goal set by a handful of other countries, because our legislation will set more demanding, legally-binding, annual targets covering every sector of our economy.

“By 2030, we will cut emissions by two-thirds and, unlike other nations, we will not use carbon offsetting, where other countries are paid to cut emissions for us, to achieve our goal.”

READ MORE: Scots carbon footprint halved since 1990, but transport emissions increase for third year

Speaking earlier this month, Green MSP Ross Greer said: “Earlier this year, a report by Christian Aid spelled out how the UK Government is doing ‘far less’ of its ‘fair share’ of the global effort needed to reach the temperature target in the Paris Climate Agreement.

“Rather than have Scotland compare itself to the dangerously weak climate standards of the UK, we should be using Sweden, New Zealand and Iceland’s ambitious net zero emission targets as our inspiration. With Greens in government, the net-zero targets of these countries leave the Scottish Government’s claim to be a world-leader on climate change in the dust.”

Picture courtesy of theverb.org