I would like to make progress.
It will take bravery as well as vision and, of course, funding, to achieve the shifts that are needed at all levels. The serious concerns about the level of EU targets were explored by my colleague Claire Baker and many others. In view of the strong possibility that, even if the EU target is changed, it might well not be changed before 2016, the RACCE Committee recommendation that
“the final RPP2 be more explicit in demonstrating how greater domestic reductions could be achieved within the current 20% EU target”
becomes even more significant. I hope that the minister will address that in his closing remarks.
As the debate draws to a close and the minister grapples with consideration of changes that might be made in view of the committees’ reports, I want to instil a sense of optimism. Many of us have a vision of how we could move forward towards a low-carbon economy, so I will look at the positives and at the opportunities. We can make the step change to meet our targets; Scottish Labour is clear that that must be done in a way that is inclusive and fair for all our communities and at household level—in particular for those who are living on the edge.
While meeting our climate change targets, we must also tackle fuel poverty and food poverty, air pollution, poor local environments and—as many members have mentioned—insulation to tackle cold and damp houses. Helping people through cold winters is essential.
Yes, we missed our first target. That must not happen again, but I puzzle over what is a “normal year”, as was mentioned by Angus MacDonald. We must firm up proposals into policies and there are concerns that much has been pushed into the later years.
The RACCE Committee asked the minister about interdepartmental discussion, which is so needed if we are to succeed in meeting our targets. That discussion must be on-going in order to evaluate progress and the need to adapt. I am sure that the minister will commit to that continuation.
The minister’s commitment to milestones today is significant—we must see those milestones in the final document. There can also be a strong commitment across all departments to properly funded research with appropriate academic partners, aided by citizen science.
Research is needed into the effectiveness of current programmes, such as farming for a better climate. The RACCE Committee
“notes the Cabinet Secretary’s ambition for every farm in Scotland to have a carbon reduction plan in place,”
but without research, there cannot be real monitoring of programmes, and alteration—and indeed regulation—as is needed across all sectors.
Research into new technologies is also needed, so that the step change that we are all committed to can become a reality—otherwise our ambitious proposals for the later years of RPP2 will not be realised as policies. The minister emphasised clarity, which was encouraging.
Who leads on this challenge to reach our targets? We all do. Local authorities all signed up to the climate change declaration; Kevin Stewart stressed the need to report to the Scottish Parliament on that. Primary schools—and now, many of us hope, more secondary schools—will contribute through the eco-schools programme.
All public bodies can play their part as well, as can businesses across sectors. Dr Andy Kerr, the director of the centre for carbon innovation at the University of Edinburgh, told the RACCE Committee:
“it is very much about creating the conditions under which we can also encourage private investment, because there are huge opportunities to deliver fairly radical change. Markets in this space are growing around the world.”—[Official Report, Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee, 6 February 2013; c 1705.]
I want to focus on the marine environment, which other members have not mentioned today—it sometimes seems to get left out. The RACCE Committee
“recommends that the Scottish Government ensure the final RPP2 acknowledges the contribution”
of blue carbon, which could have
“an ambitious route map for future development, which can be updated in RPP3”.
The committee agreed that publication of the marine
“plan has become a matter of some urgency”
“concurrent consultations on marine protected areas and a marine renewables plan”
are also extremely important.
Although I am disappointed by the lack of focus on marine protection and opportunities in the draft RPP2, I was somewhat reassured by the cabinet secretary’s remarks to the committee:
“The Committee notes the comments made that the final RPP2 might benefit from the inclusion of a specific marine section, and/or improved presentation of issues relevant to the marine environment and welcomes the Cabinet Secretary’s remarks which indicate he is prepared to consider this issue before the RPP2 is finalised.”
It was disappointing that the behaviour change framework came out so late, as many members have highlighted. The Local Government and Regeneration Committee report recommends that
“behavioural change should find expression in all sections of the RPP2 report and should not be stand alone as change is needed across all sectors of the economy and society.”
We all have a responsibility at individual level and to all the communities to which we belong, but people will contribute only if they believe that their contribution matters—that it makes a difference—which, often, they still do not believe, and if there is a pay-off. For some people, one of those will matter more than the other, depending on their circumstances. It is up to all of us in the chamber to ensure that everyone in Scotland understands that tackling climate change matters for both reasons.
Finally, let me use the words of Simon Pepper, with his wealth of experience of sustainable development. In evidence to our RACCE Committee, he said:
“One of the problems is the label “behaviour change”, because it tends to focus the mind on individual action whereas, in strategic terms, we need to concentrate on societal attitudes and norms. I like to think of it more as culture change.”—[Official Report, Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee, 6 February 2013; c 1708.]
A culture change is what we need, and we must all work towards that in the future.