Scotland promises tough climate Bill

A Bill will be proposed to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, the Scottish Executive said last week

John Swinney, the Scottish Secretary for Finance and Growth, promised to introduce a climate Bill tougher than the draft UK Bill currently making its way through Westminster.

The 80% target was included in the manifesto of the Scottish National Party, which won the most seats in the Scottish Parliamentary election in May. However another commitment to introduce annual targets to cut emissions by 3% a year has been dropped.

Instead the Bill will propose interim “targets” based on average annual emissions spread over five years and the Executive would have to report to the Scottish Parliament on its performance. It seems likely that the targets would not be mandatory and actually refer to carbon budgets similar to those proposed in the UK Bill.

Ministers would be accountable to Parliament for meeting the targets. If these are missed ministers would be required to set out how they would put emissions back on track, but would not face any sanctions.

The Executive may establish a committee of climate experts to provide independent advice on target setting and to evaluate climate policies. Alternatively, it could use the committee established by the Westminster Bill to perform this function for the UK as a whole.

The Bill is unlikely to be introduced before late 2008.

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