Nature and climate emergency must be focus of FM’s new cabinet team

19 May 2021

Scottish Environment LINK welcomes the appointment of the First Minister’s new cabinet today. At the start of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, the cabinet must focus on addressing the nature and climate emergency and meeting international targets. Government action over the next five years will be essential if Scotland is to achieve its ambitious 2030 climate target and to put in place robust measures to reverse declines in nature.


With crucial international climate talks taking place at COP26 in Glasgow and biodiversity talks at COP15 in China, at a time when 1 in 9 species is at risk of extinction in Scotland, the new Scottish Government must place tackling the nature and climate emergency top of its priorities for government.This includes embedding action to reverse declines in nature and reduce carbon emissions across all ministerial portfolios. It must also include rebalancing our unsustainable consumption of natural resources, which jeopardises our food security and weakens the basis of our economy. LINK members welcome the creation of the posts of Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Climate and Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands. These two posts will need to work closely together to drive coordination across government to meet climate and nature targets. LINK also believes that the appointment of a Minister for Nature will be needed to help support these two critical portfolios.  


The new Cabinet Secretaries Michael Matheson and Mairi Gougeon will be crucial to efforts to deliver nature restoration to meet expected international biodiversity targets, with both the EU Commission and UK Government expected to set their own nature recovery targets later this year. Mr Matheson and Ms Gougeon will also have a leading role in delivering nature-based solutions to climate change, including restoring Scotland’s peatlands, driving an expansion of native woodland and creating a Scottish Nature Network. They will also need to put Scotland’s agricultural sector on track to meet net zero climate targets, reducing emissions that have remained static since 2008, and to reverse the continuing decline of biodiversity through support for nature-friendly farming.


The appointment of the new Scottish cabinet team is a welcome step to giving the nature and climate emergency the priority needed to drive ambitious changes over the next five years. 



[1] Details of cabinet appointments are available here:

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