I hope that the member was listening when I appeared at the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee earlier this week. It is not a plan of ours to use carbon credits, but any country that does use them has a choice in the nature of the credits. If a country used credits, it would certainly be important for it to consider how the credits can deliver a benefit to the developing world as a way of managing issues in its own country. Credits can be used to deliver a moral and social purpose if a country believes that it needs them, but we are not in that position at this stage.
Our strategic approach has attracted major international investors, such as Mitsubishi, Iberdrola and Gamesa, to set up global research and development centres in Scotland. Over the past year, there has been further growth in international interest in Scotland’s progress on low carbon.
David Cameron has thanked the Scottish ministers for their support for greater ambition in the European Union on climate change and to drive green investment, and he has acknowledged that Scotland has good examples to share of progressive climate policies delivering jobs and investment. At the invitation of the UK Government, we have provided low-carbon case studies to assist it in its international influencing efforts. Indeed, we use them ourselves.
Members should not just take David Cameron’s word that Scotland is setting the pace on international action—there are some here who might be reluctant to do so. The First Minister was recently given the international climate leadership award by the Government of South Australia—a part of Australia that, under the previous premiership of Mike Rann, has been taking the lead on the climate change agenda in the southern hemisphere.
With co-operation from the UK Government, I have been taking Scotland’s messages on low-carbon economics to colleagues in Europe. I have met ministers from Denmark, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia and Malta to share the Scottish experience of low-carbon jobs, investment and economic growth. Those messages about the jobs potential of the low-carbon economy have been warmly received and there are clearly opportunities for co-operation.
The Scottish ministers have an unprecedented level of international engagement on climate change. That will continue in Durban, where I will be part of the UK ministerial team. There, we will continue to demonstrate how we are making the low-carbon economy a reality. We will demonstrate how our leadership in low carbon is resulting in jobs and growth even in these stretched financial times. We will demonstrate that investment now will lead to energy security and lower costs for consumers in the long term.
A Scottish Government official will also work with the UK team on the UN’s capacity building work stream. That, as Mr Harvie may care to note, is of key importance to developing countries. We plan to strengthen further our support for developing countries in line with our new profile in the world.
There are significant positives on which to build. There is now an agreed aim of limiting the global temperature rise to no more than 2°C, although current emissions reduction pledges are not nearly enough to achieve that. A lot more work is needed to break out of the current low-ambition stand-off of major international players.
Scotland is not alone among countries in setting high ambition. The UK, Germany and Denmark have also committed to high targets for 2020 and the Australian Government is introducing carbon legislation. There are also good examples of helpful actions in China, India and the United States.
It must also be said that, despite the slow progress towards a global treaty, the other countries that are not yet adopting the formal targets are, nonetheless, making investment in the low-carbon economy where they see economic benefit. We can expect countries such as China and India to continue to do that to an increasing degree in the years to come.
Scotland has been an active member of the Climate Group’s states and regions alliance for many years. That highlights the fact that many progressive policies and actions are being delivered at sub-national and local levels of government, including in US states such as California and Texas.
The leadership of the EU and the UK is another invaluable asset. The EU has said that it is open to a second commitment period for the Kyoto protocol after 2012, which keeps the way open for other parties to make similar commitments.
However, time is short. We do not expect to break through at Durban and, with global emissions at an all-time high, we have only a short time span to get them on a downward track, allowing for the time that it would take for countries to ratify a new treaty.
Therefore, my message when I attend the UNFCCC in Durban as part of the UK delegation will be that it is imperative that we do not miss the massive opportunities that the fundamental shift in the global economy will provide. We believe that action is needed now to grasp the opportunities that higher ambition on emissions reduction presents to drive and incentivise investment in new low-carbon markets, to achieve energy security and to achieve environmental and climate justice objectives.
The evidence already shows that investment is happening in Scotland and that the country is already securing competitive advantage through new technologies and markets. Other countries should follow suit.
In addition, it is imperative that Scotland continues to articulate to the international community that, as an industrialised country, we have a moral obligation to act on climate change and to influence others worldwide to do the same.
Many countries are, of course, far less fortunate than Scotland is. They do not share our wealth of natural resources and renewable energy potential. By sharing our knowledge and information, creating partnerships between academic institutions and working with countries that are likely to be disproportionately affected by climate change, we not only support our overall approach to international development but assist developing countries in their transition to a lower-carbon economy appropriate to their circumstances.
The Scottish Government is giving clear direction and support to the development of the low-carbon economy. Similar action should take place in Europe and around the globe and we must work together to ensure that we grasp the low-carbon economic opportunity.
That the Parliament notes that Scotland will be participating in the 17th Conference of the Parties on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as a member of the UK delegation; encourages active engagement with other delegations to deliver the message that action on climate change is both necessary and urgent, and recognises that Scotland’s experience demonstrates that action on climate change can create jobs, investment, trade and economic growth opportunities.