The Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland (ERCS) and Good Law Project will take legal action against the Scottish Government unless it acts urgently to uphold its commitments over the climate crisis.
The Scottish Government has pledged to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2045, declaring that Scotland’s contribution to global heating will “end, definitively, within one generation”.
But it’s more than two years since the Government announced its £26bn Infrastructure Investment Plan, and it still hasn’t published an assessment of the plan’s climate impact. This flies in the face of the statutory duties laid out in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, which requires the Government to show how investments are in line with emissions targets.
The investment plan for the 2021-2026 term outlines £26bn of investments in projects and programmes around Scotland, such as health and transport infrastructure. It emphasises the Government’s commitment to net zero and highlights investments in the natural environment. But no assessment of the emissions the plans will produce has been published.
We believe the Government is breaching its own climate commitments, and have written to the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Net Zero and Just Transition, Màiri McAllan MSP, saying we will launch a legal challenge if this breach of the Government’s climate duty is not urgently addressed.
Dr Shivali Fifield, Chief Officer at the Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland (ERCS), said:
“By failing to publish a climate impact assessment for its Infrastructure Investment Plan, the Scottish Government is leaving citizens in the dark, with no way to keep check on whether public money will be spent on projects that drive up carbon emissions.
To the government we say: show us your homework. Too many times, you have over-promised and under-delivered, and in a climate emergency, the stakes are too high for wishful thinking.
The Scottish Government has committed to incorporating the right to a healthy environment as part of its new Human Rights Bill and this includes the right to a safe climate. These spending decisions will shape Scotland for decades to come. Only with effective public scrutiny can we ensure reality matches rhetoric to advance the right to a healthy environment for everyone.”
Emma Dearnaley, Legal Director at Good Law Project, said:
“The Scottish Government says it is committed to reaching net zero. But it’s breaching its own climate legislation that sets the emissions targets needed to get there.
It’s one thing to make climate commitments – it’s another to deliver on them. So it’s vital we can all see if the Government’s investment plans clash with its plans to tackle the climate crisis.
There’s no time to lose in the fight against irreversible damage from global heating. That’s why we won’t hesitate to bring a legal challenge if the Scottish Government doesn’t publish these crucial climate assessments.”
Notes to editors:
- To arrange an interview with Dr Shivali Fifield, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org / 07395 652434. To arrange an interview with Emma Dearnaley, please contact email@example.com / 07907 296156.
- Our letter to Màiri McAllan MSP, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Net Zero and Just Transition.
- The Infrastructure Investment Plan for Scotland 2021-22 to 2025-26 (PDF)
- Infrastructure Plan Progress Report – 2021-2022
- The relevant legislation is the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 as amended by the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019.
- About the Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland: The Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland (ERCS) was established in 2020. We assist the public and civil society to understand and exercise their rights in environmental law and to protect the environment. We carry out advocacy in policy and law reform to improve environmental rights, and ensure full compliance with the Aarhus Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making, and access to justice on environmental matters.
- About Good Law Project: Good Law Project is a not-for-profit that uses the law for a better world. We hold the Government and public bodies to account and protect the interests of the public. We had a primary role in overturning the prorogation of Parliament in 2019 and, more recently, have been shining a spotlight on the Government’s award of PPE contracts to their friends and associates.
- This is Good Law Project’s first legal campaign in Scotland since they announced their expansion into the country last year.