TODAY marks 10 years since Holyrood voted unanimously to pass pioneering climate change legislation. The bill, which enshrined targets to cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions in law, was the most ambitious climate law at the time. It established Scotland as an environmental leader.

But a lot can change in a decade. We’re no longer tackling climate change, we’re battling a climate crisis. Progress is happening, experts say, but not fast enough. Governments are declaring – or, at least, paying lip service to – a climate emergency and campaigners are chaining themselves to oil rigs in a bid to raise awareness that, unless significant changes are made, the world is going to hell in a globally-warmed handbasket.

What is the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009?

The climate change act came into being after pressure from the Greens. The party backed Alex Salmond’s first election as first minister in 2017 in exchange for early tabling of the bill.

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Announced in December 2008, the bill was immediately supported by thousands of environmental campaigners. Sparking some of the biggest demonstrations outside Holyrood at the time, they also put pressure on the Government to amend the bill and increase Scotland’s target for 2020 to a 42 per cent cut.

The act, which included an 80 per cent reduction of emissions by 2050, was passed unanimously on 24 June, 2009.

How are we doing?

Since 2009, Scotland met its 2020 emissions reductions target early. The country actually ranks slightly above average for overall renewable energy in the EU – doing badly for heating and very well for electricity – while also making strides by decarbonising our electricity industry.

But earlier this month it was revealed that the country missed its latest climate change target as consumers failed to kick their addiction to flying and driving. Figures for 2017 showed emissions actually rose from planes and cars.

What’s this about a climate emergency?

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared a “climate emergency” at the spring SNP conference, a month before the UK Government followed suit, and has since committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2045.

The Scottish Government argues this represents “the most stringent legislative targets anywhere in the world and Scotland’s contribution to climate change will end, definitively, within a generation”.

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But there are some who think there has been more talk than action. Campaigners Extinction Rebellion Scotland accused the Scottish Government of doing “nothing more than rearrange deckchairs on the Titanic”, demanding ministers commit to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

Will Scotland hit its emissions target?

The latest iteration of the climate change bill working its way through Holyrood will now be amended to include the 2045 date. If passed, it will be the world’s most ambitious legally-binding target.

However, a report stressed that Scotland becoming carbon neutral in 2045 would only be possible if the UK Government also accepted its recommendation of achieving the same result by 2050.

What will happen next?

Climate change is finally at the forefront of national conversation and activists are not about to let that slide.

The Greens, who helped pass the minority SNP administration’s Budget earlier this year, have insisted they will not do so again unless ministers prioritise tackling the climate emergency in all policy areas.

Scottish environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham has said the climate emergency “must be hardwired into our national psyche”, while chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change Chris Stark warned that government policy must match its new ambitions.

Mr Stark recently told MSPs there was not “that much more time” to achieve targets, saying: “We’re all going to have to get to net-zero or the game’s a bogey.”