Scottish Ministers are currently refusing to produce the full climate impact assessment of the carbon emissions expected to be generated by their £26bn Infrastructure Investment Plan – crucial to their pledge to reach net zero by 2045. The Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland (ERCS) and Good Law Project have now warned the Scottish Government that court proceedings could be on the cards if these figures are not revealed to the public.
Following legal pressure from ERCS and Good Law Project, last month the Scottish Government belatedly accepted that its failure to publish an assessment of the climate impact of its Infrastructure Investment Plan is in breach of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009.
The Scottish Government has now pledged to undertake “urgent work” to remedy this. It says it will publish its current emissions reduction targets and an assessment of whether the implementation of the Infrastructure Investment Plan will make it more or less likely these targets will be met.
But Scottish Ministers are so far refusing to provide a transparent climate assessment to back up their claims. Without quantifying emissions or showing their calculations, it is impossible to verify whether or not the Infrastructure Investment Plan is fully compatible with emissions reduction targets.
In their latest letter to the Government, ERCS and Good Law Project argue that Ministers must publish this information to comply with their legal duties. The letter warns that without Ministers’ co-operation on this matter, the prospect of court proceedings could be on the table.
Dr Shivali Fifield, Chief Officer at ERCS, said:
“Decisions made about infrastructure today will shape Scotland for decades to come, and it is in the national interest to ensure full transparency so that we can scrutinise the impacts. With £26 billion of public funds at stake, it is essential that plans align with Net Zero commitments and meet the standards expected by the Scottish people.
“We are glad the Scottish Government has promised to fix the legal breach we have identified, but there is too much dithering and their actions still fall short of what is required. The government must clearly demonstrate their emissions calculations and how these will meet the targets set out in their Climate Change Plan.”
Good Law Project Legal Director, Emma Dearnaley, said:
“Scottish Ministers need to show us how their flagship plan will meet vital climate targets. They’ve said they are committed to reducing emissions but words are not enough – we need to know that their plans will actually deliver so that crucial targets to reach Net Zero can be met.
“It is heartening that they’ve accepted they’re in breach of their legal duties and promised to remedy the situation. Now they must make good their shortfall – and we’ll be standing by and ready to take legal action if needed.”
Please direct media enquiries to: Shivali Fifield at ERCS on email@example.com / 07395 652434 or Tim Picton at Good Law Project on firstname.lastname@example.org / 07907 296156
Notes to editors:
- To arrange an interview with Dr Shivali Fifield, please contact Sfifield@ercs.scot / 07395 652434. To arrange an interview with Emma Dearnaley, please contact email@example.com / 07907 296156.
- A chronology of the legal correspondence between ERCS/Good Law Project and the Scottish Government:
- Letter to Màiri McAllan MSP, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Net Zero and Just Transition – 5 September 2023
- Response from the Scottish Government Legal Directorate – 14 September 2023
- Letter from the Scottish Government Legal Directorate to Good Law Project and ERCS – 12 October 2023
- Response to Scottish Government Legal Directorate from Good Law Project and ERCS – 26 October 2023
- 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: 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 non-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 it announced its expansion into the country last year.