FM defends Scotland’s emission targets following ‘overcooked’ comment

Chief executive of the committee of climate change previously said Scotland's targets were 'overcooked'.

FM defends Scotland’s emission targets following ‘overcooked’ comment Getty Images

The First Minister has defended the Scotland’s ambitious targets to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030 at an event during COP26.

Chief executive of the committee of climate change Chris Stark said the Scottish Government may have “overcooked its emission reduction targets, particularly the 75% number” in an interview with BBC Scotland last week.

During an interview at the New York Times (NYT) climate hub at COP26 in Glasgow on Wednesday, Sturgeon was asked if Mr Stark’s comments were a “fair criticism”.

In response Sturgeon agreed the targets were “ambitious” and “among the toughest in the world”.

She added: “In a context of too much under-ambition, if I am going to be criticised on the climate challenge, I’d rather be criticised on being over ambitious than under ambitious, because, even if our determination is to meet that 75% target by 2030, but say we only get to 70 or 72 or 73, that’s probably further than we would have got had we only set a target of a 60 per cent reduction let’s say.

“I think the whole world needs to challenge itself to get to where we need to be much quicker and to go much further.

“The science is telling us we are running out of time and the planet is in serious trouble, and if we don’t limit global warming to 1.5 the impact is catastrophic.

“We have an obligation to raise our ambition as much as we possibly can.”

In an interview with the NYT’s London bureau chief Mark Landler, Sturgeon said developed countries had done much more to contribute towards climate change than less-developed countries, and should therefore “work harder” to reach their targets.

“I will defend our ambition and I will do my damnedest over the next few years to make sure we hit those targets,” Sturgeon added.

The First Minister has refused multiple times to voice opposition to the Cambo oil field development proposed near Shetland which has proven controversial with politicians and environmental campaigners alike.

Last month she said Scotland must “be careful” not to leave communities behind as it transitions away from oil and gas.

At the NYT event, which took place at SWG3 in Glasgow, Mr Landler asked the First Minster to “climb off the fence” with regards to to her view on Cambo.

Sturgeon said: “I don’t think I am on the fence.

“I don’t think Cambo should just get the green light.

“Cambo got a licence about 20 years ago that, unlike new licences, doesn’t have to go through any climate assessment, and it absolutely should as a minimum, it can’t just be given the green light.”

She added: “Our current reality is that we are dependent on oil and gas for our energy needs.

“We need to make sure when we move away from oil and gas, that we look at renewable alternatives and that we are not just simply replacing domestic production with imported production – that would be counterproductive in the point of view of the environment.

“We also need to make sure that we are able to create new job opportunities for the 100,000 people, in Scotland, whose jobs depend on oil and gas.”

The event closed with Mr Landler asking the First Minister if she believes Scotland could bear the financial strain of meeting climate change targets if it was to go independent.

She replied: “We are managing this transition largely anyway because of the devolved responsibility my government already has,” adding, “we have so much going for us as a country.”

At a Scottish Government event on Tuesday, Sturgeon said Scotland and London have more to gain from being partners than competitors.

Speaking in Glasgow alongside London Mayor Sadiq Khan, the First Minister said the skills in the capital and north of the border are “complementary”.

The event – a green investment showcase hosted by Scottish Enterprise chief executive Adrian Gillespie – was held as COP26 delegates discussed how private finance can contribute to reaching net zero on the summit’s “finance day”.

“There is often a perception that Scotland and London are rivals and competitors, and of course every now and again, like any two cities, that may well be the case, but in general and in particular on (climate change) we are far more likely to be partners,” the First Minister said.

“We stand to gain much more by working together as partners than by focusing on being competitors.

“That’s because our strengths are, in many ways, complementary and we have both set very ambitious targets for reaching net zero.”

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