Scottish green pledge failure should not be condemned

Scotland's fragile environment
Scotland’s fragile environment

As widely reported, the Scottish Government has acknowledged that its environmental target of a 75% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 is now unattainable, and has been widely condemned for it. It’s certainly easy to feel angry about this admission.  But to criticise it misses three important points.

Firstly, if we condemn our politicians for admissions of failure, we simply encourage them to conceal any such failings. It’s a common trick to release bad news on a day when another story will dominate the headlines or to ‘announce’ something on page 287 of a 1000-page report. Far better that we encourage open and honest admissions about a lack of progress so that the public can at least hold their politicians to account.

Secondly, we risk encouraging politicians of all stripes to abandon or reject making green pledges in the first place. Which is better, to have tried and missed, or never to have tried in the first place?  If we keep demanding perfection, we shouldn’t be surprised if the politicians we excoriate then commit only to the unambitious or irrelevant.

Thirdly we need to recognise that making progress on environmental issues requires widespread public support. It’s easy to pontificate. But if I was a single parent on a low income, would saving the planet be my highest priority in a cost-of-living crisis? Of course not. It is better that we make slow progress than create such a pressure that there is a public backlash and green policies become a vote-losing proposition to the electorate.

Of course, I want to encourage stronger efforts. I want to encourage risk-taking.  I want us to get to a sustainable way of life. But we do that by constructive criticism. So while I’m not happy, I don’t condemn the Scottish Government’s failure.

1 comments On Scottish green pledge failure should not be condemned

  • I agree Steve. The climate crisis can only be tackled with transparency from politicians and the support of the public.

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