Cli­mate change: time to get rad­i­cal or die try­ing

Sunday Herald - - EDITORIAL & LETTERS -

ONE of the big­gest ironies of cli­mate change in Scot­land can be found on a beau­ti­ful stretch of Aberdeen­shire coast­line, by the mo­bile sand dunes of Me­nie where Don­ald Trump’s con­tro­ver­sial golf course lies.

Ac­cord­ing to the Gov­ern­ment con­ser­va­tion agency Scot­tish Nat­u­ral Her­itage, it is one of the many coastal golf links now at risk from coastal ero­sion and flood­ing caused by cli­mate pol­lu­tion – a re­al­ity that the US Pres­i­dent doesn’t just ig­nore but ac­tively de­nies.

Un­for­tu­nately, though, global warm­ing threat­ens much more than golf and Trump’s van­ity. As we re­port to­day, the risk of po­ten­tially dev­as­tat­ing dam­age to homes, busi­nesses and much of Scot­land’s vi­tal in­fra­struc­ture is huge.

Thou­sands of peo­ple are in dan­ger, as well as whole pop­u­la­tions of wildlife. As the cli­mate is in­creas­ingly dis­rupted by car­bon pol­lu­tion, we will get more heat­waves and more droughts, as well as more storms, floods and other weather-re­lated dis­as­ters.There are many signs that this is al­ready hap­pen­ing. One of the most elo­quent was the re­cent ob­ser­va­tion that snow has dis­ap­peared this year from the slopes of Scot­land’s high­est moun­tain, Ben Ne­vis.

The ques­tion is, of course, what should Scot­land do about it? A few missed tar­gets aside, the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment should be com­mended for its ef­forts thus far –but is it be­ing am­bi­tious enough for the fu­ture? Its new Cli­mate Change Bill, out for pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion un­til Septem­ber 22, prom­ises to cut car­bon emis­sions 90 per cent by 2050. But cam­paign­ers say this is not enough.

The Stop Cli­mate Chaos coali­tion says the aim should in­stead be to re­duce emis­sions 100 per cent to zero by 2050. Some cam­paign groups and the Scot­tish Green Party say the tar­get should be tougher – zero emis­sions by 2040.

More than 8,000 peo­ple have writ­ten to Scot­tish min­is­ters urg­ing them to re­think their plans. They want Scot­tish min­is­ters to help lead the planet in com­bat­ing one of its most se­ri­ous threats.

Meet­ing any of the pro­posed tar­gets will not be easy. Se­ri­ous vested in­ter­ests will have to be chal­lenged, fossil-fuel in­dus­tries wound down, and our de­struc­tive love af­fair with the petrol en­gine will have to fin­ish.

Such change is not nec­es­sar­ily bad news. It could mean less pol­lu­tion, less ill­ness and bet­ter life­styles. Or, as one ad­vo­cate put it, “a health­ier, wealth­ier, greener coun­try”.

This looks like a good op­tion to us. Scot­tish min­is­ters should have the courage of their con­vic­tions, and boost their tar­get to cut cli­mate pol­lu­tion to zero, ei­ther by 2040 or 2050.

Such am­bi­tion would also demon­strate our re­spon­si­bil­ity to fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. They will not thank us if we leave them a rav­aged planet.

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