10 December 2009

S3M-5379 Climate Change [Closing Speech]

Scottish Parliament

Thursday 10 December 2009

[THE PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 09:15]
... ... ...
Climate Change

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Alasdair Morgan): The next item of business is a debate on motion S3M-5379, in the name of Stewart Stevenson, on climate change. I point out to members that time is not on our side, so they should stick to their time limits.

... ... ...

Stewart Stevenson:

I begin by welcoming Cathy Peattie to her new portfolio and thanking her for the considered and interesting contribution that she made in her first speech on the subject. I extend my thanks to colleagues around the building for working with me to enable me to lodge a motion that reflects shared aspirations and belief. That was a good start.

As many have said, climate change is the biggest environmental threat that we face, and 2009 is crucial. We might not have only two weeks to save the world but, as Alison McInnes said, we have two weeks to start to change the world. We have had a mature and useful debate on an enormously complex issue that has generated a lot of good comment. We have disagreed on the detail—that is to be expected—but we are united in common purpose. That is a good foundation on which to build as we go to Copenhagen, not just to talk to people but also to listen to people, because we do not and could not have a monopoly on all the answers.

We laid the groundwork with our world-leading Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, and we now have to press ahead with the practical solutions. We have an excellent story to tell about the greening of our energy supply. We launched our 10 energy pledges, and we are comfortably on track to meet our targets to meet 31 per cent of electricity demand from renewable sources by 2011 and 50 per cent by 2020. We are pursuing international partnerships for the Scottish European Green Energy Centre and the saltire prize, which is the largest Government innovation prize in history. We are making Scotland a centre for the key technology of carbon capture and storage, and we have been consulting on energy efficiency and low-carbon vehicles. Mention has been made of the climate challenge fund, under which a panel of people outside Government has ensured that 198 communities have benefited from awards to date.

The purpose of today's debate is to restate for the Copenhagen audience the all-party consensus on the need for strong action. I very much look forward to welcoming Patrick Harvie, Rob Gibson and Cathy Peattie to Copenhagen. I believe that they will be able to come to the reception that we are hosting on Monday evening. I certainly hope to see them there to meet many other people from other countries.

I cannot agree with everything that Patrick Harvie said in his contribution. It is not entirely inappropriate that the nickname for the US dollar is the greenback. We have to help the United States to understand how to live up to that appellation. Turning our back entirely on the free market is unlikely to leave us with the economic resources that will be necessary to deal with climate change. Patrick Harvie said that ever-increasing mobility must stop—I paraphrase his comment—but in the case that we have wholly greened our transport we can of course take a different way forward. Until we have done that, however, moderation has to be our watchword. We are, of course, counting the cost of infrastructure developments, even now.

Patrick Harvie: I welcome the minister's comments on my contribution on mobility, but I note that he has still said nothing on my question on aviation, which I have put to him twice and to the First Minister once. Does the Scottish Government accept the recommendation by the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee on restrictions on aviation growth?

Stewart Stevenson: Aviation represents 4 per cent of our emissions and the figure for the United Kingdom is 6 per cent or so. We strongly support, in particular, the provision of alternative travel arrangements for people through high-speed rail. There is a degree of unanimity about that, even if there are some different views on the detail. Andrew Adonis's support for that way forward at Westminster is a welcome breath of fresh air.

I want to respond to a number of Sarah Boyack's comments. I agree that having Kevin Rudd and Barack Obama in place is probably helpful internationally as they represent two key nations that have to look at the issue differently from the way in which it has been considered in the past.

Copenhagen cannot simply address the needs and aspirations of the developed world but must find ways of supporting countries that are less able to do that for themselves. It has to ensure that we support their needs in a whole variety of ways.

Our procurement process, which I think Sarah Boyack referred to, increasingly provides access for small companies across Scotland and therefore economic opportunities in our communities. The sustainable travel budget has risen over the period of our Administration. Bus and train budgets are enormous and, of course, the council tax provisions that we put into the Climate Change (Scotland) Bill place a duty on councils. The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities is working hard on that, and Alex Johnstone made reference to the measure in his speech. The centre right is probably in a minority in the chamber, but it has a legitimate voice and contribution to make. I welcome Alex Johnstone to the debate. He can join our team any time.

The conference of the parties in Copenhagen will talk about targets but must, of course, also talk of delivery. Alison McInnes made that key point. There is also the need to raise public awareness. Until I came into office, I confess that my engagement on the issue was pretty modest. It was a serious wake-up call. I am awake; we must now waken the whole of Scotland.

Rob Gibson talked about the Salter ducks and highlighted the potential for tidal and wave energy in Scotland. Pauline McNeill said that she would have liked to have seen me in Glasgow on Saturday. I am afraid that Lachlan Murdoch McIntosh—my best man—and his wife Jan Reekie were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary in a village hall in Crail that day. I simply had to be there. I believe that the champagne was from sustainable sources; members do not need to worry about that.

Pauline McNeill mentioned New Dehli. Following my visit to the city in the now-rather-distant past, I am glad to hear that things are getting better and that the three-wheeled tuk-tuks are now more environmentally friendly. I share her aspiration on high-speed rail.

Bill Wilson and other members spoke about Scotland being on the UK delegation. We have a good relationship with UK ministers. I have been to the past two environment council meetings as part of the UK delegation. The Bella Center in Copenhagen, where the COP15 meeting is taking place, is extremely crowded and so we will be ensconced round the corner in a very comfortable place, from where we can speak to people from across the world

In speaking about flooding episodes, Nanette Milne highlighted an important and fundamental issue. Non-scientists do find it difficult to deal with the scientific debates on the issue, but it is not beyond any of us to understand the very real world impacts that we have seen in Cumbria and the north-east of Scotland. We can understand the issues.

I recently met Yvo de Boer, who is leading the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. He is interested in what we are doing, as others around the world are. A senior official will be on the United Kingdom delegation and, if the bullying that he inflicts on me from time to time is anything to go by, I am sure that Scotland's voice will be heard by Ed Miliband. The BBC survey is hugely encouraging; it shows that two thirds of Scotland's people not only understand the issue but are up for it. As a result of our participation in Copenhagen, we will, of course share, copy and change.

In her references to India, Pauline McNeill talked of standing at the gates of the Taj Mahal, which reminded me of one of the most inspiring set of words from Shah Jahan—words that are appropriate in this context. In commissioning the design of the Taj Mahal, he had these words inscribed on the side of the building:

"Happy are those who dream dreams and are prepared to pay the price to make them come true".

We have a shared dream of a world that is unaffected by the problems of climate change. We share the responsibility to deliver to our successors a world that is better than the one that we inherited. Let us join together on that ambitious mission.


Stewart Stevenson
does not gather, use or
retain any cookie data.

However Google who publish for us, may do.
fios ZS is a name registered in Scotland for Stewart Stevenson

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP