A new report containing more than 80 recommendations on how Scotland should tackle climate change has been hailed as a “clarion call” for action.
Scotland’s Climate Assembly is demanding action to reduce emissions across a whole range of areas – with calls for a ban on single use plastics “unless there is no viable alternative”.
To encourage people out of their cars, it calls for public transport to be made “cheaper, or free”, with standardised smart ticketing introduced across the whole country in what it said could be an “Oyster card for Scotland”.
The assembly backs tax changes, including the introduction of a new carbon land tax which it said would penalise those whose land is currently responsible for more emissions than it captures.
The report – which has been laid in the Scottish Parliament and will be handed over to party leaders on Thursday – recommends schemes such as frequent flyer and air mile bonuses be scrapped, with a new tax brought in instead to discourage people from regular air travel.
It calls for a feasibility study to examine the environmental impact of introducing a universal basic income, and for a four-day working week to be brought in “as standard”.
Stressing the importance of acting now to tackle climate change, the report insists “decisive leadership and strong, impartial cross-party collaboration… is required urgently.”
Assembly members said: “The climate emergency is a real and urgent issue that cannot be ignored.
“It requires immediate action at all levels of society. If we fail to act now, we will fail our current and future generations, in Scotland and across the world.
“We will need to be ambitious, united and driven to succeed in fulfilling Scotland’s potential to reduce carbon emissions.”
The report was produced after more than 100 people from across Scotland were brought together to take part in the assembly.
They considered the issues over seven weekends between November last year and March, and also consulted with the Children’s Parliament to ensure their voices were heard.
As part of the recommendations, the assembly said grants should be available to all homeowners by 2025 to enable them to ensure their properties meet zero emissions standards by 2030.
It also suggests it be mandatory for public service vehicles – such as ambulances and police cars – to have zero tailpipe emissions, adding this should be extended to delivery vans and public transport “where possible”.
To reduce food waste, it said supermarkets and other stores should be encouraged to change the way they sell fruit and vegetables, and other perishable products, so people can buy only the amount they need.
The creation of a new National Nature Service is recommended so people who are not in education, training or work can “contribute to rewilding, land restoration and adaptation projects”.
Councils should be supported to set up a network of “resource libraries” across Scotland, where people can borrow tools and other equipment instead of having to buy items they may only use occasionally.
Speaking about the report, Professor Dave Reay of Edinburgh University’s Climate Change Institute said: “This is a clarion call for climate action right across Scotland.
“For anyone who was still wondering what needs done on climate change, it’s writ large here: much more, and much faster.
“These recommendations span every part of our lives, from heating our homes and the daily commute, through to what we buy and what we eat.
“In these times of Covid, the call for more climate education, green skills and job opportunities is an especially powerful one.
“As a nation, if we can get anywhere near the same levels of climate understanding, passion and commitment to action shown by the assembly members, then Scotland really can punch well above our weight in the global fight against climate change.”
Assembly co-convener Ruth Harvey said the report’s “focused recommendations” are a “call to action not only to our political leaders, but to all citizens of Scotland”.
She added: “The report calls on each one of us to be ambitious, united and driven as we change and adapt to ensure our planet not only survives, but thrives.
“Change is often challenging. The small daily actions that we each must alter are part of the bigger culture change that the assembly is calling for. We each have a part to play.”
Cathy McCulloch, co-director of the Children’s Parliament, said: “With Cop26 and globe legislators summit coming to Scotland later this year, this is a critical moment for Scotland to show itself to be an international leader in the response to tackling the climate emergency.
“Children are set to benefit most from the actions we take today to protect our planet and its climate.”
Net Zero Secretary Michael Matheson said: “The Scottish Government is wholly committed to ensuring that Scotland ends its contribution to climate change by 2045 at the latest.
“The responsibility for delivering this transformation, and delivering it in a way that is fair and just for everyone, falls to all of us – it must be a shared, national endeavour, with people at its heart.”
He thanked Climate Assembly members for their work, praising the “commitment and dedication they have shown in producing this important report”.
Mr Matheson added: “It is clear that Assembly members have taken great care to develop ambitious proposals and recommendations to provide support for the societal transformation we know will be needed for Scotland to become a net zero nation.
“We will take the necessary time to reflect fully on the Assembly’s recommendations before providing a comprehensive and cross-Government response in-line with the requirements of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act.”