It is not clear what Scottish Government actions will be taken to limit the risk of climate change, Audit Scotland has said in a new report.
Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon declared a climate emergency in 2019, setting a target of achieving net zero by 2045.
But the Climate Change Committee said last year the government had missed seven out of 11 targets and there was “no clear plan of delivery” for reducing emissions by 75% by 2030.
A new report released on Thursday by Audit Scotland said improvements were necessary in the governance arrangements within government aiming to meet the climate change targets, particularly around how risks are managed.
According to the watchdog, climate change has been given a “high risk score” on a government risk register – a document which assesses the likelihood and impact of problems arising across government – meaning “it is very likely that net zero targets will not be achieved and that the impact of this would be severe”.
The report adds: “It is not, however, clearly specified what actions will be taken to reduce the overarching net zero risk or how the actions will impact on the risk score.
“Targets to reduce the risk score have been repeatedly missed and the level of risk remains high.”
The auditor also found that, until December, there was not a specific risk logged on the corporate risk register relating to the adaptation to the impacts of climate change.
“The lack of a specific adaptation risk, with actions to address it, means that this critical issue was much less likely to be considered at an executive level than net zero targets,” the report said.
However, the report also states an adaptation risk was recorded within the register of the government’s net zero department, first logged last March, but was given a much lower risk score than the overarching net zero risk. The report claimed this could “reduce the level of urgency at executive levels for taking action to ensure that Scotland is resilient to the impacts of climate change”.
Auditor general Stephen Boyle said: “The Scottish Government’s set up for responding to the climate crisis has constantly evolved since 2019. But the different parts of government could be better coordinated.
“The government’s risk management arrangements also need to improve, particularly the work needed to ensure Scotland adapts to the impact of climate change.
“Work is ongoing across the Scottish Government to tackle these organisational weaknesses, and it’s vital that happens quickly given the urgency of the climate situation.”
Scottish Conservative climate spokesman Liam Kerr described the report as “damning”.
He said: “The SNP-Green Government thinks talking a good game is sufficient in order to trick people and businesses into thinking they are doing a good job.
“But as this document confirms, SNP ministers have missed target after target, and amassed an incredible number of failings when it comes to protecting the planet.”
Scottish Labour climate spokeswoman Sarah Boyack accused the Scottish Government of a “woeful lack of action”.
“We are already feeling the effects of the climate emergency but the Government has not done the heavy lifting urgently required to put in place adaptations communities need.
“The SNP-Green Government must start treating this crisis with the urgency it deserves – we need more than warm words, missed targets and spin to deal with the catastrophic effects of climate change.
“The next Labour government will deliver transformative green investment to build a greener country and protect against climate change.”
Liam McArthur, who speaks for the Liberal Democrats on climate issues, accused the Scottish Government of “continued failure to get to grips with tackling the climate emergency”.
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