Consider the weasel. It is Scotland’s smallest carnivore, the nemesis of mice and other small animals, and a sleek, elusive shadow when spotted in the wild.  

But like all animals who dwell in the country’s green places, it is under threat from climate change and the disruption to its habitat that may bring.  

Yet the weasel, presumably as noble an animal as any other, is in the news not because of its perilous position with regards to man-made global warming, but through a link to its more furtive qualities.  

The Scottish Government has been accused of trying to “weasel out” of its commitments to curbing climate change, after a report warned it is now “beyond credible” that Scotland’s target to reduce emissions by 75 per cent by 2030 will be met. 

It is reported that the Scottish Government has now ditched the 2030 goal, but remains committed to meeting its target of net zero emissions by 2045, it says.  

The move is a major climbdown for the administration at Holyrood – and a serious tarnishing of the SNP’s once-mighty green credentials.

Read More:

This all comes after a report from the Climate Change Committee (CCC) published in March said that, for Scotland to achieve the goal of cutting harmful emissions by 75% by then, the rate of emission reduction in most sectors would need to increase by a factor of nine in the years up to the end of the decade. 

As a result, it said: “The acceleration required in emissions reduction to meet the 2030 target is now beyond what is credible.” 

The issue of credibility was up front and centre at First Minister’s Questions, as Humza Yousaf defended the ministerial statement to come in the face of criticism from Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar by ditching the 2030 date, the Scottish Government is following similar moves from Rishi Sunak.  

“There is no intention...” shouted Mr Yousaf, before bringing out the weasel, “...of rolling back that 2045 date in order for us to reach Net Zero. 

The Herald: Weasel

“In order for us to reach Net Zero, of course, five years ahead of the UK Government. In order for us to have more ambitious climate change targets than Labour run Wales.

“This government will not move back a week, a day or even a month from that 2045 target to achieving Net Zero.” 

Confirmed by its omission, it appeared that the 2030 date has gone up in smoke. This allowed Anas Sarwar to get in a little zinger, pointing out that the Scottish Green Party – the SNP’s partners in government – are “the only Green party in the world that supports scrapping a climate change target”.  

A sore one for the Greens, but perhaps they should be used to it, having been in office as environmentally friendly policies such as the landmark Deposit Return Scheme and Highly Protected Marine Areas floundered into dust.  

But they are putting a brave face on it. Scottish Greens climate spokesman Mark Ruskell said: “We are absolutely determined to accelerate the urgent and substantial action needed to tackle the climate crisis as laid out by the CCC recently, and fully expect the Scottish Government to respond to that challenge.” 

Climate campaigners however said that ditching the 2030 target would be an “acute global embarrassment” for the Scottish Government, which has now missed its legally binding annual emissions reduction targets in eight out of the last 12 years.

So does scrapping another one matter?  

Scotland Net-Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan insists that it doesn’t – and that that taking action to tackle the twin crises of climate change and nature loss will be accelerated.  

Speaking before the statement, she said: “Whilst we are faced with a UK Government which is rowing back on climate action, and hostile to measures already adopted by nations across the world like the Deposit Return Scheme, the progress we have made since Scotland declared a global climate emergency in 2019 and since Glasgow hosted Cop26 in 2021 is now at risk. 

“This cannot continue. The future of our planet and the security of future generations is far too important. 

“Tackling climate change is an environmental imperative and our moral obligation. However, done correctly, it can also present perhaps the single greatest social and economic opportunity of many generations in Scotland.” 

And hopefully safeguard all those little weasels out there, as they face a warming planet along with the rest of us.

Subscribe to our Unspun political newsletter to get the latest analysis and insight direct to your inbox.