Public Law

On 25 September 2019 the Scottish Parliament voted to pass the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets)(Scotland) Bill by 113 votes to zero after MSPs backed a Scottish Labour amendment aimed at strengthening emissions targets. The Scottish Greens abstained after MSPs rejected the party’s aim of targeting an 80% reduction in emissions by 2030. Scottish National Party, Scottish Conservative and Scottish Liberal Democrat MSPs supported an amendment from Scottish Labour for a 75% cut in emissions by 2030.

How does the Bill aim to tackle climate change in Scotland?

The primary objective of the Bill is to raise the ambition of the greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets set out in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. The Bill sets a legally-binding “net-zero” target of all greenhouse gases by 2045.

The Bill also makes provision about advice, plans and reports in relation to those targets, with the objective of Scotland contributing appropriately to the world’s efforts to deliver on the Paris Agreement reached at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The “net-zero” target for Scotland is five years ahead of the date set for the whole of the UK.

Reporting Duties and A Citizens Assembly

Ministers will be required to report annually on the progress made in tackling climate change in each sector.

A Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change will be created to make recommendations to ministers on how the net-zero transition should be achieved.

Consultation on Net Zero plans for Public Sector Bodies

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on plans for public sector bodies to set a date for zero emissions. The Consultation Paper also raises the question of how the public sector will align their spending plans with these targets.

The Consultation closes on 4 December 2019 and also suggests changes to those bodies required to submit annual climate change activity reports which include educational institutions, Integration Joint Boards (IJBs), local government, National Health Services and Transport Partnerships.

The Consultation suggests (amongst other things) removing IJBs and adding in:

  • South of Scotland Enterprise (due to be established in 2020)
  • Ferries owned by Scottish Government (Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd and David MacBrayne Ltd)
  • Scottish Prison Service
  • Scottish Public Pensions Agency
  • Skills Development Scotland
  • Student Awards Agency for Scotland
  • Social Security Scotland
  • Scottish Forestry
  • Forestry and Land Scotland

What might this mean for you?

Climate Change is the defining challenge of our time. Public bodies are the key drivers of Scotland’s transition to a net-zero society.

Climate change has the potential to affect a broad range of issues over which public bodies are directly involved including:

  • the health of the natural environment
  • the productivity of agriculture and forests
  • the increased risk of flooding
  • the resilience of business
  • the security and efficiency of energy supply
  • the quality of Scotland’s water and marine environment
  • the performance of buildings
  • health and well-being
  • infrastructure – network connectivity and interdependencies including transport, ICT and waste.

Brodies advises on all aspects of development and infrastructure including environmental, planning, waste, flooding and energy matters; on how to build organisation-wide resilience; on strategic planning; on how to undertake rigorous community engagement; and on all aspects of procurement.

If you would like to discuss the implications for you, please contact Jackie McGuire or your usual Brodies contact.

 

Johanna Boyd

Barrister (qualified in England & Wales) and Trainee Solicitor at Brodies LLP
Johanna practised as a barrister in a London set of chambers (2-3 Gray's Inn Square) for 10 years, specialising in public law litigation for a wide variety of clients including public bodies and private clients. Following Johanna's return to Scotland, she became the first woman to lead Stirling Council, enhancing her understanding of public services and all spheres of government.
Johanna Boyd