27 May 2010

S3M-6416 Climate Change (Annual Targets) (Scotland) Order 2010 (Draft) [Closing Speech]

Scottish Parliament

Thursday 27 May 2010

[The Presiding Officer opened the meeting at 09:15]
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Climate Change (Annual Targets) (Scotland) Order 2010 (Draft)

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Alasdair Morgan): The next item of business is a debate on motion S3M-6416, in the name of Bruce Crawford, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, on the Climate Change (Annual Targets) (Scotland) Order 2010. I invite members who wish to speak in the debate to press their request-to-speak buttons. I point out to members that we have a negative amount of spare time this afternoon, if they get my drift, so I will stop members as soon as they reach their allocated time limit.

Motion moved,

That the Parliament agrees that the Climate Change (Annual Targets) (Scotland) Order 2010 be approved.—[Bruce Crawford.]

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Stewart Stevenson:

I will briefly address some of the points that have arisen. It was suggested that the 42 per cent target did not come from the Committee on Climate Change, but it did. The committee produced two figures, 34 per cent and 42 per cent, and we incorporated both in our proposals at an early stage of the bill. When it was clear that there was support in the Parliament as a whole for the 42 per cent target, we reversed our decision and made the target 42 per cent—a figure that came from the Committee on Climate Change and was based on European targets going up to 30 per cent. Sarah Boyack now appears to want us to break the law that we have just passed. I am not clear on this, but she appears to be suggesting that we bring forward proposals and policies in advance of our setting the targets, although the act requires us to do that afterwards.

Let me talk about some of the interventions. Peatlands restoration is an excellent idea, which is why we brought it in. We expect that it will be included in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change inventory in CancĂșn, in December. However, we must be aware that, like many interventions, it makes things worse for two years, not better, because as peatlands that have dried out are rehydrogenated, the CO2 is released from the peat before we get the long-term benefit. It is for such reasons that many interventions will not necessarily deliver over the short term.

Cathy Peattie properly said that, whatever happens today, the Government can continue to bring forward its policy initiatives on the subject. Of course, we will bring forward a wide range of initiatives. However, if Parliament rejects the order today, there is a real danger not that the Government will stop bringing forward initiatives, but that wider society and businesses will take that as a signal that the issue no longer matters to Parliament. Tens of thousands of people lobbied Parliament on the subject—that is absolutely clear—and the advice that the committee received was that, yes, Parliament should set the minimum standards and challenge the Government to meet them. We have made offers to various parties that would help us to do that. Curiously enough, in the immediate aftermath of the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee's rejection of the order in its original form, we tested the new order with the Labour Party and said that we would lay it only if Labour members would support it. We twice asked them and they twice said that they would support it. They have resiled from that position and have placed—

Sarah Boyack: Will the minister take an intervention?

Stewart Stevenson: I am in my last 20 seconds—I cannot do that.

Sarah Boyack: That is not true.

Stewart Stevenson: Presiding Officer, am I being accused of something?

The Deputy Presiding Officer: Certainly, the time is coming to an end, Mr Stevenson, one way or another.

Stewart Stevenson: I commend the order to Parliament and I absolutely refute what is being suggested from the Labour benches.

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