Climate change is more crucial than ever and Swinney has to get it right

stonehaven floods
Flooding in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire in Scotland in 2020. -Credit:Martin Anderson/PA Wire

Five years since a climate ­emergency was declared in the ­Scottish Parliament, it feels a little like we're back to square one. Target after target was being missed – so the Scottish Government did away with its annual emissions targets.

Crucially, under Humza Yousaf, it also ditched the aim of cutting carbon by 75 per cent by the end of the decade.

Now free of the Scottish Greens, we have a new SNP minority government under John Swinney who, if rumours are true, is considering a wider cull of key green policies.

Flooding inside the St James Quarter shopping centre in Edinburgh. -Credit:EdinburghLive
Flooding inside the St James Quarter shopping centre in Edinburgh. -Credit:EdinburghLive

As we report today, eco groups and fuel poverty campaigners are concerned the controversial Heat in Buildings Bill may face the axe.

Policies in the flagship legislation include stringent new energy standards for all households by 2033 and an end to gas boilers by no later than 2045, replaced by technologies such as heat pumps.

There are difficult discussions to be had about how all this is paid for. But if the Swinney administration was to abandon or water down these plans now, when climate action is more crucial than ever, he would be little better than serial U-turner Rishi Sunak.

It's true the Scottish people want ­politicians to prioritise the things that matter – the economy, schools, the NHS. But poll after poll also shows they care about the planet and want urgent action there as well.

With an election looming, Swinney seems set to retreat to safety-first ­politics. Five years on from the announcement of a climate emergency, however, there can be no more kicking the can down the road.

As the climate crisis takes hold, leaders who fail to act now won’t be thanked in the long run.

John Swinney
John Swinney -Credit:PA

Work together

Four councils, including Glasgow and Edinburgh, have declared a housing emergency. It is time the Scottish Government followed their lead and acknowledged the extent of the crisis facing so many families struggling to find a place to live.

We criticised the SNP-Green ­administration for cutting the housing budget. It is a decision ministers should reverse as soon as possible.

Scottish Labour will tomorrow try to force the SNP government to follow the lead of the local four local authorities. John Swinney says he wants to work with others to help eradicate child poverty. If so, he should extend a hand

to his political opponents and work towards providing more affordable housing for Scottish families. One of the quickest ways to deal with a problem is to acknowledge it exists in the first place.

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