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SLE responds to Scotland’s Climate Assembly report on climate emergency

Press Release

Commenting on the report from Scotland’s Climate Assembly which sets out 81 recommendations to help tackle the climate emergency, Stephen Young, Head of Policy at Scottish Land & Estates (SLE), the rural business organisation, said:

“Congratulations to the citizens from Scotland’s Climate Assembly for putting together such a thought-provoking and complex report covering all areas of the economy. SLE was delighted to feed our views to the group last year as they were researching topics.

“It is encouraging to see forestry, native woodlands and peatland restoration feature prominently in the report as these are a crucial part of the work land managers are doing to help tackle the climate emergency. We are also pleased that rural areas have been given some consideration in the ‘20 minute communities’, allowing mobile and digital solutions to be found. Additionally, the proposed support for retrofitting homes is promising, and the acknowledgement that it is better to use the home we have due to the carbon locked within them rather than build new. But we need to understand and bear in mind, the limitations traditional buildings (which used very little carbon to build) have in their ability to meet new energy efficient standards. One recommendation we are concerned about is the taxation proposal. This is a complex area, and it is hard to judge the impact without more detail on that. If the other incentives for land management are targeted and clear leadership is given, there should be no need for taxation, which is often a blunt tool. We also urge caution on the dietary change debate. This is a complex area and it can be hard to make direct comparisons between production methods and measuring metrics from different countries. Scotland produces some of the finest food and drink in the world to high production standards, and there is a real danger of offshoring emissions and buying in produce with higher costs, which are hard to measure on economic and emissions metrics. All of this means labelling of food could be complex and difficult for the consumer to understand and make informed choices. In terms of plant-based food, it is about balance and understanding the production system of where the food comes from. Training and education on environmental issues will help the public make the right choices.

“Our members who are landowners and farmers are already making great strides in the way they are managing land to help combat climate change. We are pleased the report suggests help for land managers to transition along with a changed rural support policy within five years. This is all possible but it will need robust and clear guidance from the Scottish Government as well as a secure budget to allow long-term decisions to be taken. We look forward to working with our members, government and others to ensure some of the visions from the report can become a reality for Scotland to enable communities to thrive.”

Scotland’s Climate Assembly is made up of over 100 citizens from all walks of life tasked with examining expert evidence and agreeing recommendations for tackling the climate emergency in a fair and effective way. Their report was laid before the Scottish Parliament on 23 June 2021 and can be read on the Climate Assembly website.

Full Report | Climate Assembly