Headline Act: Scotland's environment. Must add your support before 11 May.
Nature is our priority. That seems to be the dominant narrative. Making history in March, we had more than a million children striking from school to demand urgent, radical government action for climate change. Within just a few weeks of further protests, including by Extinction Rebellion, the headlines of today announce the response – the UK government is the first national government to declare an environment and climate emergency. Environment Secretary, Michael Gove called for urgent actions including a green industrial revolution and changes to transport and agriculture. First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon on 28 April said, “Scotland will live up to our responsibility to tackle [climate change]. We are already a world leader and our new legislation commits us to being carbon neutral by 2050. It contains some of the toughest targets in the world.” She added, “Scotland will lead by example.”
The Scottish Government are right now in the final two days of public consultation on environmental principles and governance in Scotland, and many people have already responded, calling for better protections. Thirty-five environmental charities from across Scotland, known collectively as Scottish Environment LINK, welcome this consultation opportunity and have come together to ‘Fight for Scotland’s Nature’. The aim is to gather support for a Scottish Environment Act which would protect and enhance our globally important wildlife and environments for now and the future. Such an Act could set clear ambitions for environmental policy, including embedding vital existing EU environmental protections and help us grow towards a more sustainable future. The Fight for Scotland’s Nature website notes, “it is pushing for clear environmental targets supported by long-term actions and funding to mitigate climate change, create robust ecosystems and ensure sustainable use of our natural resources that is good for us and our land and seas”. It is hailed as a ‘huge opportunity to make a difference and better protect Scotland’s natural world’. Though a small country by comparison, Scotland stores 25 times more carbon in its peatlands than in all the vegetation in the UK. Scotland’s peatlands are also some 5 % of the world’s total. Further, the country is home to 29 % of Europe’s seals, biodiverse coral reefs believed to be around 4,000 years old, and globally iconic and important species, populations and habitats like Scottish wildcats, freshwater pearl mussels and ancient native woodland.
Earlier this week, the earth-shaking public report from IPBES which represents the authoritative science, knowledge and policy options to decision makers, reveals that species extinction rates are increasing, the current global response is insufficient, and that ‘transformative changes’ are needed to restore and protect nature. Joyce Msuya, Acting Head for UN Environment says there is a “critical need to integrate biodiversity considerations in global decision-making on any sector or challenge, whether it’s water or agriculture, infrastructure or business.” Globally, the new report tells us that there are today one million species threatened with extinction. In Scotland, we know that this is true for 1 in 11 species, which are currently at this risk. Deborah Long, chief officer of Scottish Environment LINK, said, “We’re facing a profound ecological crisis, and we need to take action fast.” She continued, “A strong Scottish Environment Act would allow Scotland to retain and build on the protections we have at present, and to take action to safeguard the unique wildlife and landscapes for which the country is famous.” Joyce McMillan, President of Scottish Environment LINK, added, “Every one of us must therefore send a clear message to the Scottish Government and the First Minister that the need to protect our environment is not an option, but an absolute necessity for a healthy and sustainable future for Scotland and its people. I urge everyone to sign our petition, and join the fight for Scotland’s nature.” You can tell the Scottish Government that we need a Scottish Environment Act at https://www.fightforscotlandsnature.scot/e-action/ and search #FightForScotlandsNature on social media. The consultation closes on Saturday 11 May.
Thanks, Scottish Environment LINK, IPBES and UK Government. Now I would like to…