The SNP’s environmental credentials are in tatters. 

Mairi McAllan, Holyrood’s Net Zero secretary, has confirmed that the Scottish government is scrapping its flagship 2030 climate change target. Its ambitious pledge of a 75 per cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by the turn of the decade is “out of reach”, McAllan conceded today. 

The Net Zero secretary attempted to play down this latest SNP U-turn as a “minor legislative change”. Nobody was fooled. Unfortunately for her, the public still remembers Nicola Sturgeon confidently boasting that this would be a “legally binding” agreement, meaning there could be no backsliding from one of “the most stretching climate targets in the world”. 

If only the former First Minister had spent a little less time posing for selfies with Greta Thunberg and climate activist Vanessa Nakate and dedicated a few more hours to thinking through the realities of this pledge. 

Speaking to Holyrood MPs today, McAllan insisted: “With Scotland’s emissions already cut in half, we are well positioned to continue leading on climate action that’s fair and ambitious and capable of rising to the emergency before us”.

McAllan hopes to ensure that Scotland goes “further and faster in delivering the rapid and fundamental change that is so vital”. Painfully reminiscent of 2019, when Nicola Sturgeon pledged to go “further, faster” with her green ambitions. 

The now-discarded target will be replaced by annual reporting on progress, and five yearly carbon budgets. 

Back in 2022, the Climate Change Committee warned that Scotland had “lost its lead” in tackling the issue of the climate crisis. So today’s announcement is hardly a major shock. 

Scotland’s 2030 target was staggeringly unrealistic. With England and France having a target of net zero by 2050, and Germany and Sweden by 2045, Scotland was never going to achieve a 75 per cent cut by 2030. 

Sturgeon’s 2030 vision was conveniently timed with the peak of the school climate strikes, when Greta Thunberg’s calls for action saw thousands take to the streets. When asked three years ago at the COP26 event in Glasgow if she had potentially “overcooked” her ambitions, Sturgeon rejected the suggestion outright.  

So who is to blame for the SNP’s U-turn on an unrealistic pledge made under their former leader? Westminster, of course. Who else? 

McAllan said that her party had been forced to temper their ambitions due to “the UK Government’s unprecedented economic mismanagement.” 

One time SNP leader, Alex Salmond, is not wrong in labelling the whole ordeal “hugely embarrassing” for his former party. 

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