Over the last five years we’ve had some significant successes.
We’ve seen time and time again that people power delivers change. So while we focus on what more there is to do, it’s important to look at the progress being made along the way.
In 2019, 25,000 people marching through Edinburgh to rally outside Parliament resulted in a big, last minute improvement of the targets in Scotland’s new Climate Act.
The Scottish Parliament announced a ban on fracking thanks to the 40 protest groups across Scotland who spent years pushing the government to strengthen its stance. The 60,000-person strong movement was key to making this happen, despite a legal challenge from plastics producing giant INEOS.
On air pollution, a Low Emission Zone is up and running in Glasgow and there is a commitment to at least three more. Pressure helped push the Government to commit to phase out sales of petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030. This was joined by an impressive and challenging commitment to reduce car kilometres driven by 20% by the same date.
A new Transport Act gave powers to councils to set up workplace parking schemes and run their own bus companies. Friends of the Earth Scotland had to walk out of an official steering group on air pollution because it was dragging its heels in taking any actions, and two years later we helped write the new air pollution strategy.
We have a very long way to go on the transition away from fossil fuels, but many political parties now talk the language of Just Transition – even if it is not yet backed with the action workers and communities need to see.
In local politics, we have been working alongside local campaigners for years to try to shift the £1.2bn of council pension money that is invested in fossil fuels. The biggest of Scotland’s 11 funds, Glasgow City Council, has backed a plan to do just that.
A Deposit Return Scheme for drinks bottles and cans is being created and the Government has realised the public are hugely behind banning single use plastics. They’ve started with plastic straws, microbeads and cotton bud sticks, with more to come. We’ve been pressing them to go further and faster every step of the way.
A new law to promote a Circular Economy where we use resources better was shelved due to COVID-19, but we will be working hard when it returns early on in this new parliament.
COVID further exposed how our current economic system is driving inequality as well as environmental breakdown. That’s why we helped create the Just and Green Recovery Alliance, which brings together groups from across civil society to press for a fairer, greener Scotland as we come out of the pandemic. We’ve seen its agenda reflected in the discussions in parliament and parties must ensure that we create good green jobs as we emerge from this period.
Trying to get big solutions to urgent problems from a parliamentary system can be slow and frustrating, and there’s so much more to do – but we must remember to celebrate the achievements along the way.
We can only make these positive changes happen because people like you care enough to take action. This could be by coming to events, talking to your local politicians or becoming a member and backing this work with a regular donation.
More campaign successes include:
- Government pledge to phase out sales of fossil-fuelled vehicles by 2030
- A commitment by the Government to set up a Just Transition Commission and a Scottish National Investment Bank
- A doubling of the walking and cycling budget to £80m a year
- A ban on underground coal gasification in Scotland
- A new Clean Air Strategy for Scotland and a commitment to Low Emission Zones
- Stopping a new supermarket being built on Edinburgh’s most polluted street
- Doubling the target for community renewable energy from 500MW to 1GW
- RBS stopping funding extreme Mountain-Top Removal coal extraction
- Forth Energy giving up on its plans for big biomass power stations in Leith and Dundee
- Stopping a new coal-fired power station in Ayrshire
- A change in Scots law on who has the right to have a case heard in court
- The 2009 Scottish Climate Act – the best piece of climate change legislation in the industrialised world
- Scottish Government backing for no nuclear power stations or GM crops in Scotland
- Stopping plans for a super-quarry on the Isle of Harris from going ahead
- Scotland’s first law for Freedom of Information
- Increased public participation in planning
- A zero waste policy in Scottish Government
- An organic food and farming action plan
- Increased recycling provision
- Tougher rules on opencast mining
- Better strategic environmental assessment
Want to know more?
Read our history.