The weather we are experiencing is not normal

Friday July 22nd 2022

Lorna-Slater-MSP


Lorna Slater, Scottish Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Lothian MSP and Scottish Greens co-leader writes her monthly column for Midlothian View.

The weather we are experiencing is not normal. We have seen record temperatures all over the UK, wildfires across Europe and heatwaves in Africa and Asia. Anyone who tells you that this is ok, or that it is just summer weather, is badly wrong. What we have seen this week is also a preview of things to come. It may be the hottest summer on record, but, without radical action, it could also be the coolest summer for the rest of our lives.

It is less than 12 months since world leaders met in Glasgow for COP 26. They all talked a good game, with Boris Johnson describing the situation as “one minute to midnight” and pledging far reaching climate action. They failed to deliver and as soon as the leaders left they resorted to business as usual. In the UK, Johnson and his colleagues talked about global climate leadership in one breath and then tried to justify drilling new oil and gas fields in the next.

It really isn’t good enough. Tinkering at the edges won’t solve things. We need bold and transformative action if we are to avert the kind of crisis that too many governments are sleepwalking into. If things carry on as they are then it won’t just mean warmer weather here in Scotland. For billions of people, it will mean broken supply lines, crop failures and a future with increased heat waves, wildfires, droughts, floods and severe storms

There are important and positive steps that we can all take in our communities; we all benefit from cleaner air and safer streets. We all have the ability to make a difference, but the heaviest lifting has to come from the companies who are producing so much waste and pollution and the governments who set the rules for them.

We are doing everything we can to be the greenest government in Scotland’s history. With Greens in government we have delivered record funding for recycling, renewables and active travel and £5 billion for maintaining, improving and decarbonising Scotland’s railways. We have also introduced free bus travel for young people and £1.8 billion for energy-efficient homes and buildings.

We are working to ensure that it is a fair and just transition where all of our communities can see and feel the benefits. That is why we have established a £500 million fund to help communities with oil and gas jobs.

In my role as Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, I am working with businesses from all over the country to reduce waste and help them to make real and fundamental changes to the way they operate.

This is what we are doing here in Scotland with the powers we have, and there is far more to come. It is the sort of ambition and delivery that we need to see from all governments across the UK and beyond.

Unfortunately, when watching the Tory leadership race unfolding, it’s been hard to see any of them doing any better a job than he did. All of them are committed to more drilling and some clearly want to roll back on the limited steps that have been taken and delay their commitments even further.

Rishi Sunak has already pledged to scrap Downing Street’s very limited plans to relax a ban on onshore wind farms while, as environment minister in 2014, Liz Truss cut subsidies for solar farms and called them a “blight on the landscape.”

Whoever wins will have their time in Downing Street defined by their response to the climate emergency. It is not just the biggest challenge for this generation of politicians, it will also be the biggest challenge for all future generations too.

Every degree matters. In fact, every fraction of a degree matters. The consequences of the actions we take today will be felt long beyond our lifetimes. By doing the right things now we can ensure a better and more liveable future for the generations that will come after us.

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