Climate activists tell Yousaf to take responsibility over dropped targets

Campaigners are expected to gather at Bute House on Tuesday evening after the Scottish Government confirmed it would drop its 2030 emissions target.

Climate activists tell Yousaf to take responsibility over dropped targets Getty Images

First Minister Humza Yousaf has been told to take responsibility for the Scottish Government’s “colossal failure” on climate change as environmentalists protest outside his official residence.

Friends of the Earth (FOE) Scotland are among the climate campaigners demanding action outside Bute House in Edinburgh on Tuesday after it was confirmed last week the Scottish Government would abandon its 2030 target to reduce emissions by 75%.

The protest comes on the same day that Chris Stark, chief executive of the Climate Change Committee (CCC), expressed doubt on whether the target to reduce the number of kilometres travelled by car by 20% by 2030 would be met.

Mr Yousaf has told journalists he hears and listens to the concerns of climate activists but said the Scottish Government ambition for net zero by 2045 remains essential.

However, campaigners will urge the First Minister and his Government “not to backtrack on its climate commitments”.

FOE Scotland campaigner Caroline Rance said: “People are rightly angry that Humza Yousaf’s government plans to break its climate promise and slow down action in this crucial debate. Climate science is clear that we cannot allow that to happen.

“The Scottish Government’s repeated failure to act has meant not only have they missed climate targets, but they have missed tangible opportunities to improve people’s lives through providing good public transport, decent home insulation and creating good green jobs.

“The First Minister must take responsibility for this colossal climate failure because the desperately weak climate policy package announced last week offers no reassurance that his ministers are serious about getting us back on track.”

Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan announced a new package of climate action measures last week, including trebling the number of electric vehicle charging points.

Liz Murray, head of Scottish campaigns at Global Justice Now, said: “We are at the rally today to urge the First Minister and the Scottish Government not to backtrack on its climate commitments.”

She said the Scottish Government was “shameful” for moving the “goalposts” instead of meeting the targets.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Mr Yousaf said he welcomed the protesters “making their voices heard”.

He added: “We do hear them … and we do listen to them.

“That 2030 target, moving away from it, has been exceptionally difficult, there’s no two ways about it.

“It was always a stretch target. It was beyond the advice that was given to us by the independent Climate Change Committee.

“But what hasn’t changed is our ambition. We’re not moving a single day away from the 2045 target, let alone of course moving away from the action that we have to take.”

He added his Government had “accelerated” action to tackle climate targets.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government’s proposed new Climate Change Bill will retain our legal commitment to achieve net zero by 2045 alongside annual reporting on progress, while introducing a target approach based on five-yearly carbon budgets – an approach utilised by both the UK and Welsh governments, and which aligns with the nuanced and practical approaches to reducing emissions advocated by the Climate Change Committee.

“Our legal commitment to reach net zero by 2045 steadfastly remains, and with emissions in Scotland already nearly cut in half, we are well positioned to continue leading on climate action that is fair, ambitious, and capable of rising to the emergency before us.

“That is why, last week, this Government also announced a raft of new climate action across transport, agriculture, taxation, land use, aviation and industry. It is delivery against our restated ambition that will make the difference and continue our progress to 2045.”

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