This week, we went to the First Minister’s front door to urge him to take responsibility for his government’s colossal failure to take the adequate action needed to keep its climate promise. 

Climate groups from across the movement came together outside his official residence of Bute House in Edinburgh to protest the decision to scrap Scotland’s vital 2030 climate targets.  

Scrapping these targets would mean a weakening of climate action and reduced scrutiny on ministers, and represents a betrayal of everyone who is impacted by climate breakdown. 

Climate protest outside Bute House, Credit: Friends of the Earth Scotland / Iain McLean.

Between that protest and writing this post, Humza Yousaf has ended the coalition Government between the SNP and the Greens.  It is not yet clear what the full impact of that will be, but when the dust settles, the fact will remain that the Scottish Government must get back on track to meet its climate commitments.  

Climate failures are missed opportunities to improve lives

The Scottish Government’s repeated failure over the past 14 years to ramp up action has meant not only have they missed climate targets, but they have missed tangible opportunities to improve people’s lives. Delivering on these goals could have been achieved through providing good public transport, decent home insulation and creating pathways to good green jobs. 

Speakers at the rally highlighted the impact extreme weather is already having on Scottish food production, as well endangering lives in countries that are most affected by climate breakdown. 

Farmers and crofters need support

Landworkers’ Alliance Scotland Policy and Campaigns Coordinator Tara Wight, who spoke at the rally about the effects of climate change saying: “It’s having a devastating impact on farming in Scotland, with productive fields under water, record lamb deaths this Spring and storm Babet last year causing the most drastic loss of crop value ever recorded.”  

“This has a big impact on our food system, increasing the need for carbon-heavy imports and driving up the cost of food at a time when people are already struggling to make ends meet.” 

Tara Wight from Landworkers Alliance speaking outside Bute House

She called for greater support for farmers and crofters who need support to transition their practices to improve both climate resilience and mitigation, yet the Scottish Government’s policies for climate-friendly agriculture are the least ambitious in the UK, and fall far behind the EU. 

Leadership claims ‘have no credibility’

Liz Murray, Head of Scottish Campaigns at Global Justice Now said their supporters were at the rally to urge the First Minister and the Scottish Government not to backtrack on its climate commitments.  

She highlighted how the First Minister has in the past spoken out about the “catastrophic negligence” of rich countries’ failure to act on climate change, so he should be “totally ashamed” of his own government’s failure to take the action needed to meet its own targets. 

She said: “Climate change knows no borders. People who have had little or nothing to do with causing the climate emergency, from communities in the global south to marginalised communities in Scotland, are suffering its serious effects. In a climate emergency, letting itself off the hook is the wrong thing for the Scottish Government to do, and any claims it had to global leadership on climate change now have no credibility.” 

Government plans fall far short of what is needed

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) Coalition Manager Becky Kenton-Lake reminded people that “Scotland’s target to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030 was based on our fair contribution to retaining a liveable planet.” She was critical of the package of measures the Government announced alongside its plan to weaken targets saying: “the range of largely re-heated measures announced by the Scottish Government are wholly inadequate and fall very significantly short of the transformational acceleration in action needed.” 

The protest showed people are rightly angry that Humza Yousaf’s government’s plans to break its promise and slow down climate action in this crucial decade. We cannot allow that to happen. 

Young Friends of the Earth Scotland called out the Government decision and demanded climate justice.

Keep the pressure on the politicians

With the political changes we’ve seen this week, it is even more important that we keep up the pressure on our MSPs to save our climate targets.  

You can take our quick online action urging them not to scrap these targets.