LINK Briefing on Climate Bill Stage 1 Debate

29th March 2019

Ahead of the Stage 1 debate on the Climate  Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill taking place on 2 April, LINK members wish to highlight the following points.

First and foremost, LINK members welcome the Committee’s support of the recent IPCC findings on limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C and explicit agreement that a net-zero target for all greenhouse gas emissions is necessary to achieving it.

Given the IPCC findings, LINK members support that a target for achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 should be set in legislation. LINK members also support setting the 2030 target at 80% reduction of greenhouse gases. As recognized by the Committee, the 2030 target is of relevance as it will determine whether we see an overshoot to over 1.5 or 2 degrees. This will have detrimental and irreparable consequences for our natural environment, which is a key ally to reducing carbon emissions.

As highlighted in the LINK – WWF Scotland ‘Scotland’s Nature on Red Alert’ report, our natural ecosystems, habitats and species in Scotland are facing increasingly challenging pressures from climate change. This could not only severely hamper their ability to sequester carbon but also their resilience. Scientific evidence suggests that our natural environment’s ability to sequester carbon is expected to peak around 2030 with ecosystem disruption (through for example, drought, disease and floods) leading to a reduction in vegetation production and a decrease in carbon storage. Ultimately this could result in vegetation becoming a net carbon emitter by the end of the 21st century.

In line with previous evidence, LINK members firmly believe that stronger targets should be accompanied by clear actions to enhance our natural ecosystems, which will enable Scotland to achieve greater greenhouse gas reductions.

In this respect, LINK members urge the Scottish Parliament to incorporate the following additional actions:

  • Introduce a duty on Ministers to produce and report on a nitrogen balance sheet by 2020
  • Support increased targets for agroforestry in Scotland
  • Strengthen the implementation of the Land Use Strategy
  • Establish a duty for Ministers to create a National Ecological Network
  • Introduce measures to recognise the scale and importance of blue carbon stores, and protect and enhance blue carbon habitats
  • Establish a duty for a “sunset clause” for peat extraction in Scotland

The full briefing is available here

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