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Agenda: Time is running out to leave our children a better, greener future

Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions have risen and, for a third successive year, we have missed the emissions reduction targets set out in the Climate Change Act.

You might ask: "So what? Climate change isn't affecting me, right?" Wrong. The effects of climate change will increasingly cause problems, not only for people living in Scotland but for people all across the world, unless we take urgent action to reduce global emissions.

In response to our increasing emissions, the Scottish Government announced new policies to help put us back on track to meet future, more challenging, targets and to make the most of the huge economic and social benefits of a greener Scotland.

These include more funding for home energy efficiency and for green transport. Insulating properties will not only save carbon emissions but also provide people with warmer and more comfortable homes, leading to lower energy bills.

Making cycling and walking safer and more appealing gives people a real alternative to driving (or more often sitting for long periods) in congested traffic, day in day out.

This initiative could also help to improve Scotland's air quality, a real problem in Scotland's cities and a drain on the NHS as people are affected by poorer health as a result.

The package of new government policies includes greater investment in how we heat our buildings, creating a new generation of skilled workers in a fairly new industry in Scotland. Farmers and crofters will be required to play their part, too, by reducing the amounts of greenhouse gas intensive fertilisers used in their processes.

And a new cabinet committee, established at the highest level of the Scottish Government, should provide the direction and leadership to build upon green efforts across all sectors.

In 2009, the Scottish Climate Change Act was passed unanimously with cross-party support, so it was encouraging that, again, each party agreed this week that new policies are needed to make a cleaner, greener and healthier Scotland a reality. Scottish ministers must build on this and come forward with more of the same, with the support of the Holyrood Parliament, if we are to meet future targets.

But Scotland is not alone in taking action on climate change. Countries across the world, rich and poor, are making commitments to become greener, not just because of the practical and moral imperative to do so, but also because it will also improve the quality of life for their own people.

Last week, President Barack Obama announced America's boldest move yet to tackle climate change. Then China's lead climate envoy, Xie Zhenhua, confirmed China was considering how it might implement an overall limit on its emissions.

This was reported by Bloomberg as the clearest indication yet of the country's willingness to join a global agreement that would, for the first time, limit emissions in all nations. Also, Finland has passed ambitious climate change laws limiting its greenhouse gas emissions.

In Scotland, it's predicted we will have more flooding, more often. Those in south Scotland who were affected earlier this year, or those in Perthshire the year before last, will know just what a serious and worrying prospect that is.

For those who imagine that global warming will simply mean Scotland gets warmer summers, I'm afraid they'll be disappointed. Predictions are for slightly warmer but overall wetter summers with more risk of flooding during the winter months.

We all care about things that will be affected by climate change: a walk along our favourite beach that may be damaged or disappear due to increasing sea levels; fresh coffee and a chocolate bar affected by lower coffee and cocoa crop yields because of climatic changes; and, it might seem tired to repeat, but it's painfully true: our children and our grandchildren's quality of life.

So for the love of the things each of us care about, it's time to become serious about reducing our emissions and leave future generations a better, cleaner future.

Contextual targeting label: 
Environment

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