Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee - 26 January 2021

Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee - 26 January 2021

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The Convener (Gillian Martin): Good morning and welcome to the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee’s third meeting of 2021. We have apologies from Mark Ruskell and we welcome Patrick Harvie in his place. Our first item of business is to take evidence from three panels on the Scottish Government’s updated climate change plan. I welcome the first panel: Dr Rachel Howell, lecturer in

sociology and sustainable development at the University of Edinburgh; Dr Richard Carmichael, a research associate from the centre for environmental policy in the faculty of natural sciences at Imperial College London and Professor Elisa Morgera, professor of global environmental law at the University of Strathclyde. I have a two-part, general question about your views on the updated climate change plan. First, is the draft update adequately bold in dealing with the climate and ecological crisis and getting us to net zero in accordance with Scotland’s climate change targets? Secondly, does the plan facilitate systemic change and set out an achievable pathway to net zero, particularly from where we are now? There is a lot of technology to come in the future, but what can we do now? Dr Rachel Howell (University of Edinburgh): You asked whether the draft update is bold enough. There are things in the plan that I am glad to see and that do seem bold. I

welcome the commitment to reduce car kilometres driven by 20 per cent by 2030, compared to the 2019 figure. It is good to see that the target date for phasing out new petrol and diesel cars and vans has been brought forward. There are some good proposals regarding heat and energy efficiency in the section on building. In other ways, the plan is not bold enough. I am particularly concerned about the reliance

on negative emissions technologies to bridge the gap between the plans that will reduce carbon emissions—[Inaudible.] That is extremely problematic. The justification for that in the executive summary is that we know that that is important because of detailed modelling. That is not evidence that

it will be possible to meet the targets for negative emissions technologies by the date that has been set. It looks to me as if scenarios have been examined and that there has been concern about the fact that the plans and policies for reducing emissions through other technologies and through behaviour change do not meet the necessary targets, so people have decided that we will need NETs. The committee must press the Scottish Government on the evidence that it will be possible to roll out NETs at scale. For example, on page 200, we see that

“CCS is an essential part of any NETs project”, but there are no operational CCS plants and no capacity for that in the United Kingdom at the moment. CCS is also being treated as if it were a carbon-neutral technology, but capture rates are 90 per cent at most and are often less to begin with: it is not carbon-neutral. The recent Tyndall report on CCS concludes that it is very unlikely to be significantly deployed until at least 2030. I am therefore worried that the plan suggests that NETs will account for -0.5 megatonnes of CO2e in 2029 and -3.8 megatonnes of CO2e in 2030, in order to meet the targets. That is wishful thinking and it is not bold enough.

I suggest that we need a plan that goes for the targets using both proven technologies and behaviour change. If the Scottish Government wanted to include views on which policies would not be necessary if negative emissions technologies came on stream, that would be fair enough. At the very least, the updated plan must include a plan B for what happens if NETs do not prove able to do what the Government wants them to do. The Government recognises in the plan that that may be the case, stating in paragraph 3.8.42 on page 209: “If new evidence indicates that NETs are not developing at an appropriate rate ... we

will reassess the scale and role of NETs in the next Climate Change Plan”. That will be too late. The Government really must include in this update a plan B for what happens if NETs do not deliver enough. Regarding the boldness of the plan, I am concerned about why the reductions planned in the waste and transport sectors stop at 2026. On your question about the immediate future—you

talked about not looking too far forwards—I wonder what is supposed to drive the immediate-term reductions in transport emissions. The emissions reduction pathway is that there are to be reductions very soon, but levelling off from 2026. However, many policies and plans are not coming on stream now, or will not be fully operationalised for a few years. It is unclear to me which policies will drive emissions reductions in the transport sector in the very near future, and I am concerned that the graph could turn out to be the opposite of what is shown, and that it could involve high-level emissions over the next few years and then reductions when the policies come on stream. I have examined the waste and transport sectors most closely, as they particularly involve behaviour change. I am concerned that the waste road map to 2032 runs out of road in 2025. There are no new plans or policies from 2025 onwards—there is nothing at all planned—but

I think that there needs to be. My final point on whether the plan is bold enough is that there is a missing section on diet. There are some references to food and drink, but diet will need to be addressed. There is reference to a healthy diet, which the Scottish Government supports and promotes. A healthy diet is basically the same as a sustainable diet—that is one of the best congruences that we have. There are lots of co-benefits to promoting a healthy and sustainable diet, but there is no ambition whatsoever to introduce policies and proposals to promote that healthy, sustainable diet, and I think that there needs to be.

On the question of systemic change, the updated plan does facilitate that in some ways. I am glad that the updated plan does more, compared with previous versions, to recognise the need for push factors to get people out of cars, as well as the need to encourage active travel. In the past there was a sort of assumption that people would get involved in active travel if you made it more attractive. There seems now to be a greater recognition of the need also to make it less attractive for people to be in cars, and that is good. There also seems to be systemic change through some of the proposals for electricity generation and buildings. There needs to be longer-term thinking in some sectors, however. Systemic change must

be planned for in the long term. Returning to the point about waste and running out of road, we need to know, or at least to have some idea, what will happen after 2025 in order for change to continue. For instance, it is good to see a food waste reduction target of 33 per cent, I think it is, by 2025, but we then need to have a further reduction target after that—perhaps 50 per cent by 2030. The Convener: Thank you—that was helpful. We move to Dr Richard Carmichael for his views on the questions that I posed. Dr Richard Carmichael (Imperial College London): On the question of boldness, I like the tone of the plan—in general, it sounds pretty bold. I agree that it would have been nice

to see more on behaviour change with regard to diet and aviation. I like the acknowledgement of an iterative approach and learning by doing, in the sense that you can get started without feeling that you have to know everything and plan everything down to the fine detail. That is important, given that there is an urgency here. In light of that urgency, the need to accelerate the pace of change could be brought out more. That is linked to a system-wide, co-ordinated approach with cross-sectoral content. It is good to see some thinking about cross-sector connections—especially whole-energy systems—but I would suggest another aspect to a co-ordinated approach. As well as considering a cross-sector

perspective and whole-energy systems, it would be potentially valuable to think about a co-ordinated approach, not just in the sense of how energy and the different sectors interact, but in a static “This is how things work” way. How does change happen, and how do we make change grow quicker? For example, there has been quite a bit of interest in social tipping points with respect to behaviour change and system-wide change. I have been thinking about that area over the past 12 months or so; I can share a visual with the clerks at some point, if it would be of interest to the committee. There is real potential for thinking about opportunities within the broad socio-economic systems that we are talking about to maximise the potential for positive feedback effects. You are aiming for behaviour change, and you get some of that, and it can then lead to more behavioural change through social influence effects such as social contagion and shifting norms.

That would be an extremely worthwhile opportunity to seize, but I do not see it coming through in the plan. There is some optimism there, in the sense that, if we can support those feedback loops, we can be optimistic about how much change we can feasibly expect to see in a certain timeframe. As I said, the urgency involved means that we need to look for opportunities to reinforce all the positive feedback effects that we can see in the broad system, not only among citizens/consumers for behaviour change, but then how that links with industry, and how the market feeds back off the behaviour change that has been seen. That could be better supported in certain areas. A positive feedback loop could be going on that could be supported better and with other actors. With regard to cross-sectoral issues and the system-wide co-ordinated approach, there is another systems model that would involve thinking less about engineering and more about socio-economic factors and how the actors can support other actors or stakeholders to increase the pace of change. That would include spotting opportunities for where policy interventions, or other interventions,

could play a role in oiling the wheels of change or supporting a valuable feedback loop that could build momentum for the pace of change. Those are my main thoughts on the system-wide coherent approach. On a related point, that approach could be expanded beyond energy systems. A good point is that transport, heat and power are merging, and will do so more in the future, but you could also think about the data landscape more explicitly.

That is clearly on the agenda for energy, but it should be considered in more detail with respect to food, for example. There is a real opportunity to collect and use better data regarding the impact of food. In some recent reports, agricultural stakeholders have been happy to recommend more of a carbon-footprint approach. I will leave it there for now, but there is a lot more to be said on behaviour change in that respect. The Convener: My colleagues will probably dig deeper into that.

I come to Professor Morgera for her initial thoughts, and then I will bring in my colleague Liz Smith. Professor Elisa Morgera (University of Strathclyde): I agree that some elements of the plan are bold and very promising. One example is the emphasis on the twin challenges of climate change and biodiversity, and the need for holistic approaches to both. There is a strong body of evidence from around the world that climate change responses have led to biodiversity loss as well as human rights violations. We need to be clear about the opportunities and the importance of addressing climate change through an ecosystem-based approach. That area is promising and it can deliver a lot in terms of policy coherence.

However, the plan could be bolder in thinking more holistically about environmental challenges. For instance, toxic and chemical substances are responsible for 30 per cent of biodiversity loss globally. It is critical to think across all the environmental issues and consider how they can contribute to the transition to net zero, and Scotland is well placed to do that. Taking a more integrated approach to all the environmental elements in the various sectors will be crucial. The proposals in the plan for agriculture, for instance, are quite piecemeal

and do not seem to bring the transformative approach that is needed. There are certain elements relating to reforestation and the restoration of peatlands, but there is not an overall view of the transformation that we want in the agricultural sector in order to bring about benefits in terms of biodiversity or the right to food and a healthy diet, as well as addressing climate change. It is interesting to note that the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food has repeatedly pushed for a transition to agroecology, which is a concept that has been discussed in Scotland previously. That leads me to my second point. On the one hand, the plan is very promising and quite bold in emphasising that climate change is a human rights issue, but on the other hand, it could be much bolder in making human rights the driving force for transformational change from now on. Looking at Scotland’s current work on human rights leadership and the incorporation

of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, for instance, it is clear that there are other important forces that can work in parallel with, and feed into, the transition to net zero, not only in seeking a fair transition that is focused on jobs but as a force for a coherent approach with core benefits across all the sustainable development goals in Scotland. I have some specific ideas about how human rights can be used in a practical way in the context of the plan. The emphasis that the plan places on the engagement plan that will follow is crucial, but the approach to engagement should be imbued with human rights concepts and standards. Engagement involves getting genuine participation from all relevant human

rights holders—children, women, rural communities and persons with disabilities—and giving them a voice to contribute to the process of devising nuanced, fair and effective approaches to the transition to net zero. The plan makes the fundamental, and very bold, point about the need to ensure that the benefits of that transition are shared fairly with all people in Scotland. That must become a reality, and everyone must be able to contribute to identifying the benefits that can be derived from the transition and how we can work together and play a role, as individuals and as groups, to enable Government to deliver on the plan. My last point, from my experience and engagement as part of the national task force on human rights leadership, is on the very promising emphasis on derelict land. I have been in conversation with environmental non-governmental organisations and public bodies in Scotland, which have all seen really good practices in that area already. When the opportunities are place based and community based and have the joined-up thinking on co-benefits, that has led to excellent practices from an environmental perspective in terms of climate change and biodiversity, and also across the board for economic, social and cultural rights. It would

be really great to mainstream those good practices in the approach to the transition to net zero. The Convener: Thank you. I notice that Dr Howell wants to come back in. However, we will hear Liz Smith’s question first and perhaps Dr Howell can comment on what she wanted to add in answering that Liz Smith (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con): I thank everyone who has just given what is extremely helpful evidence. I am not sure whether you saw the committee session last week when we took evidence from Scottish Government officials. It is fair to say that they recognised

the differences between sectors—as Professor Morgera just implied, there is diversity in agriculture, for example. They also recognised the challenges that we are facing. However, we were less successful in eliciting the reasons why there has been such varied progress in the different sectors and how we can ensure that we get better coherence. Why do you think that the challenges are so persistent when it comes to coherence and do you feel that the different sectors are provided with enough detail to let them know exactly what they should do to adhere to the plan? Dr Howell: Part of the answer is that it is more possible to make technological advances in some sectors. There is more ability to address emissions through technology in electricity generation, for example. Demand is also important, but

if we could supply the demand for energy through renewables, that problem would be solved, whereas for other sectors or other types of behaviour, the solution is—[Inaudible.]—reliant on behavioural and systemic societal changes, some of which are not yet, or are less well, understood by the public and some of which might be strongly resisted. For example, I wanted to come back in on the previous question, because I realised that there is one very important thing that the updated plan is not bold enough about. It is one of the areas in which the challenges are really persistent, which is aviation. In the transport section, the updated plan is not bold enough about all non-road transport and aviation in particular.

On page 127, the plan recognises the Climate Change Committee’s recommendation about managing demand in aviation, but the Scottish Government’s response is to say that it intends to reduce “the environmental effects of aviation growth” and it speaks elsewhere of encouraging “sustainable growth”. Personally, I think that that is an oxymoron. The Scottish Government has heard the recommendation from the CCC, but it has responded by saying that it will not manage demand. Why not? I urge the committee to press the Government on that. In my view, that challenge is persistent because travel is one of the things that people really feel they have a right to. In surveys, it seems that members of the general public do not recognise the differential impact of certain types of activity on their carbon footprint. Many people, if we do their carbon footprint with them, are surprised by how

large a proportion of their carbon footprint is—[Inaudible.] I suspect that in many cases the issue is awareness; in others, it might be motivated reasoning, when people have a reason not to take note of how big an impact their behaviour has, because they do not want to have to accept that. Despite the rise in budget airlines and the perception that that means that everyone can fly, the vast majority of flights are still taken by people in higher socioeconomic groups. The problem of aviation is very much one of a significant proportion of emissions being generated by very well-off frequent flyers, who perhaps have more clout when it comes to their potential to resist policy.

That is one area in which we have been handed a tremendous opportunity by the pandemic, terrible though it has been. Encouraging behavioural change in relation to aviation will be one of the most difficult things, but demand has been managed downwards for the Government by the pandemic. I urge the Government to seize that opportunity to rethink that part of the plan and rethink a green recovery, which does not depend on trying to build up the aviation sector to what it was—and indeed beyond that, with further growth—so that we move towards a just transition and away from relying on aviation.

We have seen during the pandemic that it is possible for at least some business to be carried out online. I have done some research with a consultancy, for the Scottish Government and via ClimateXChange, on employers’ experiences and views, and we found that many employers said that it is possible for at least part of their core business to be done online. Therefore, the challenges might not be as persistent as we think that they are. However, if the Government does not seize the opportunity at a time when we are able to recognise that they can be overcome, those challenges will re-emerge.

Is enough detail provided for sectors? I would say no. However, the plan references a lot of other documents. For example, in the chapter on the transport sector, I cannot see the policies and proposals that will enable us to achieve reductions soon, but I know that there is a national transport strategy, which I confess I have not had the time to read in preparation for this meeting, so perhaps there is more detail there.

On the detail, I want to make the point that, in the table at the end of the document and in the graphs on the emissions pathway in each section, we have figures for the sector as a whole but no figures for what each policy and plan will contribute. That is what we need to see. The Government obviously needs those figures, so that it can see whether its policies and plans are working, and it would be useful for the public to have those figures, so that we can do that analysis, too. Dr Carmichael: As I was looking at the plan, I reflected on whether there is enough detail on the sectors. I wanted to see more concrete examples, which

could go quite a long way towards bringing the plan to life and demonstrating feasibility. That is perhaps tricky in a document that is setting out a broad ambition. However, I like to think about and work on the concrete interventions that will deliver the ambition. We need more detail on the how. On why coherence is so tricky, sometimes the market is not set up to provide the innovation that is required and there are not sufficient incentives for stakeholders to step up and fix what is missing in the system. For example, as the committee is probably aware, smart

energy tariffs are not currently on price comparison websites, which is what a lot of people use to switch tariffs. That issue was not being fixed by the market, so it is good that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has stepped in with a project to allow smart tariffs to be incorporated in digital comparison tools such as price comparison websites. Not spotting such instances in which no one is doing what needs to be done to ease a bottleneck or move things forward is one reason why there is not as much coherence as there could be. Another example in the same area, which I have worked on, relates to smart metering, smart tariffs, electric vehicles and heat pumps. To a large degree, work on those issues

is done in silos. There are targets for the number of smart meters and for the number of time-of-use tariffs that are adopted. However, if we put those parts together, there is an opportunity that they all become more attractive. The data side of things should be layered on top of that. On price comparison sites, for example, those things would not necessarily come together naturally. Guidance needs to be given through policy and regulation by

Government to bring those elements together and present them as a much more interesting and holistic proposition. When the benefits of smart tariffs, renewables and saving money are better communicated, that gives people a reason to get a smart meter that they might not have appreciated fully. If someone wants to get an electric vehicle, it should be communicated that there are savings to be made through smart tariffs but that a smart meter is needed, so the three things are connected. As I said, that needs to be combined with the data landscape and consumer engagement, which is— The Convener: I am going to stop you there, because you are straying into reserved issues relating to the UK Government. We are keen to look at what Scotland can do.

I am very conscious that time is ticking away from us. I allowed the witnesses to give full answers at the start of the session, so I wonder whether they could now be more succinct, in the interests of time. I will bring in Professor Morgera.

Professor Morgera: I will try to do that. I have two points of reflection. The problem with sectors is that they are sectors—they operate and think about themselves in isolation. They look at issues in self-referential terms as opposed to looking at their role in the broader system and at how changes in a sector can bring systemic co-benefits. Changes in agriculture that contribute to biodiversity and reduce toxics have huge quantifiable benefits for everybody’s human right to health. That

is an area in which there are clear public savings and benefits. The Government should discuss with the sectors the system-wide co-benefits, because that is one change that could lead to a different pace in progress. How can that be done? It is, in part, about sectors and public authorities working together and thinking about monitoring as a learning process, which I think is mentioned in the plan. We should share good practice and data. For example, the implications of medical data on children’s health are very different from those on adult health.

My second point goes back to what I said about human rights and participation. Different systems and sectors are more or less accountable to the broader public. The public tend to respond to certain sectors of society, but they might not see themselves, or be seen, as responsible for the changes to broader society. Engagement with children, persons

with disabilities and other human rights holders such as women and people in rural communities can bring two potentially transformative elements to the discussion within sectors. First, it brings in different systems of knowledge, and that contributes to a systemic understanding of what the options and implications are as well as resulting in more nuanced and thought-through approaches that can help us to avoid unforeseen negative impacts. Secondly, some rights holders are widely recognised as agents for change. I understand that public bodies that have already engaged with children as part of the process of incorporating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child have found themselves energised and full of ideas about how to step up their efforts in their sectors. The Convener: Stewart Stevenson has questions about leadership, climate literacy and individual behaviour change. Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): As a mathematician, I note that we have used 60 per cent of the time to answer 14 per cent of the questions. I will therefore direct each of my questions at a single panel member—I

have three, so you will each get one. I am looking for an answer of no more than 180 words or, in other words, 90 seconds, because that is the only way this will work. Right—that is the whip cracked. I will direct my first question to Rachel Howell and in particular to the sociology part of her academic expertise. How will we make the asks that are inevitably articulated

by politicians and experts—and, in the current Covid environment, by clinicians—relate to what people see as something that they can actually do? An awful lot of people are talking about “they” and not very many people are talking about “I”. How do we bridge that gap in sociological terms? I ask for a crisp, sharp and focused answer, please. Dr Howell: We need to relate the asks to what people care about. There will definitely be something that somebody cares about that will be impacted by climate change, and we just need to make those connections.

We also need to think about social norms, which were mentioned earlier. A lot of our behaviour is driven by norms, but that is underrecognised. People think that they are not impacted by norms but, actually, norms have a strong influence on our behaviour. Therefore, if we can change norms and, in particular, simply let people know about changing norms, that helps a lot. It makes people think that something is normal and usual and that they want to do it. For example, in relation to diet, the number of people who are vegetarian and vegan is tiny, but that does not matter. Survey research shows that, back in 2017, for example, about

39 per cent of evening meals did not include meat. If you let people know about that, they start seeing it as not weird, as something that they could try and as more normal. We need to find out what people care about and then show them how that will be affected by climate change. We see that through the fact that so many people are now getting involved because of concern about the future for their children and grandchildren.

Stewart Stevenson: Thank you very much—well done. I will direct my second question to Richard Carmichael. It is about the implementation of policies and public administration as well as individual members of the public. To pick

up the point that Rachel Howell made about what people care about, we know that, if people use their cars less, they will have more money in their wallets, but how many people twig that? Of course, people grossly underestimate how much it costs them to run a car. I am well aware of that because I now spend about £1,500 a year less on car travel—in an adjusted amount of money—than I did 20 years ago. I also spend an awful lot less on aviation. How do we get people to identify and implement changes in their personal lives that will make a difference? How do we change behaviours and give people a benefit in doing so? Dr Carmichael: I agree with everything that Dr Howell said. On how we show people the benefits, I have already mentioned the smarter tariffs—smarter comparisons project. That confronts the issue head-on, in that it shows people the co-benefit of how much money they will save if they switch tariffs and links that with buying an EV, which is a step forward from previous tariff switching—[Inaudible.] That is a good example of how something that is fiendishly complicated can be dealt with; we would not be able to work things out for a flat-rate tariff never mind a smart-rate tariff. It can also show

the financial savings that could be made by having an EV and an EV tariff put together. That is the sort of co-benefit that is very motivating and which requires heavy number crunching by such digital tools. I am very interested in using smart meter data to give personalised financial savings and using the same sort of approach to show people what changing diets would mean for their carbon footprint benefits and potentially their nutrition benefits. There is a good opportunity for diet change to be nutritious and for that and the carbon information to reinforce each other. That heads towards better labelling and collecting better data. Personalised—[Inaudible.]—for

that is possible, as well. That would require support for reporting the necessary data as well as collecting it. We are talking about how to explain the benefits to people. As we know, there is already willingness. If there is willingness, we should go with it and, once behaviour change has been achieved, we should leverage that. As Rachel Howell said, we should show that people are changing. That is an example of supporting a feedback mechanism. If people can see other people doing something and that becomes more normal, the snowball will pick up pace and gather momentum. People are already motivated. They want to save carbon and money, and they want

to get healthier. There is already something to work with as well as thinking about how people can be persuaded. People are already persuaded. If we lower the barriers and make things easier, we can leverage what has been done. Stewart Stevenson: My question for Professor Elisa Morgera picks up on the infrastructure point that we have heard a bit about. It seems that, if members of the public see money being spent on particular infrastructure, they will take that as an endorsement of their right to use it. To use a simple example, if a new road is built,

people will think that they are being encouraged to use it. How well will the plan lead people to new behaviours through the expenditure that they will see in their communities and at the national level? Will it lead them back to old and unhelpful behaviours? Professor Morgera: That is a really interesting question that leads back to what colleagues have already said. Being explicit about the motivations for investment, detailing the expected benefits, asking people what benefits they need and expect, and showing, in the justification for investment, responsiveness and understanding of the benefits that different groups have identified for themselves will clarify individual responsibilities and expectations. It is really about both.

More evidence about benefits that people might not be aware of can be shared—the relation to human health, for instance, is essential—and people, including the holders of different human rights, can be asked what benefits they want without expecting them just to passively receive our understanding of the benefits. We should be responsive to their needs. How the Government has been able to balance those self-identified needs with the ones that are systemic can then be shown, which is highly motivating. In participating in the process of elaborating the justification for investments, people will have a stake in that process and will see their contribution recognised. That very much feeds into the willingness that already exists. From all my conversations on human rights leadership, I can confirm that although persons or children with disabilities are willing to contribute to climate change measures in Scotland, they do not feel that they have enough voice to suggest solutions and benefits that Government work might not yet have captured—or, indeed, a clear structure in which to do so.

Finlay Carson (Galloway and West Dumfries) (Con): I want to consider the question of promoting and embedding positive action. Does the updated climate change plan go far enough in reflecting on opportunities that the lockdown has created for positive behaviours? I am thinking of working from home, less travel and so on. How can we mitigate the potential for us to bounce back to where we were, and not to make improvements? I will put my questions together to speed things up. Part of the solution might be in the reduction of demand for travel—not just for air travel, about which we have already heard, but for other types of travel too. Politically sensitive issues also exist: we are divided on the contentious issue of red meat consumption, for example. How can we adapt behaviour around those issues and find

a way through the conundrum of locking in behaviour in areas of political sensitivity? Dr Carmichael: On bouncing back, you mentioned the obvious candidate, which is working from home. Aviation is another, and I agree with Dr Howell’s earlier comments on the matter. There are understandable reasons why people are reluctant to bash aviation right now, but we have one of the clearest opportunities to think about not wanting things to bounce back to business-as-usual in the aviation space. Despite the state of the industry—[Inaudible.]—think about tackling aviation, because, among other things, it is a high-emitting activity. As Dr Howell mentioned, the amount of flying

that goes on is extremely unevenly distributed. With regards to political sensitivity, a targeted policy that considered the provision of strong price signals against frequent flying, for example, would not necessarily upset a lot of the public. Research has shown that that approach is actually popular, because most people would not be affected by such a policy—more than 50 per cent of people do not fly in a given year. When you consider frequent flying and the fact that 15 per cent of the population take about 70 per cent of the flights, you can see that the issue is not as tricky or politically sensitive as you might sometimes think. I do not know much about working from home, but there is a good opportunity there, and there are good tools that allow people to do so. The localism that comes through in the draft is a good sign that people will be able to get the social interactions that they want locally. However, something could probably be done about management culture

and whether people feel that they have permission to work from home. On the meat question, there is again a good opportunity for the issue to be less tricky for Scottish producers. I go back to the idea of collecting producer-specific data on the carbon footprint of the produce that comes out. Consumers want better labelling on nutrition and carbon footprinting. If we collect that data and go down the labelling route—Scotland could perhaps look into that independently—there should be an upside for local producers of meat in Scotland, with regard to their competitiveness with imported meat on the carbon footprints vectors. The issue will not necessarily be divisive among stakeholders: labelling is

the route to go to take heat out of the topic and provide a potential upside for everyone. Finlay Carson: Thank you. I would like to hear from Elisa Morgera now.

Professor Morgera: It was a great question, but I think that we should turn it around. Studies on leadership show that people react well to why they are being asked to do something as opposed to what they are being asked to do. There are two crucial whys that everybody has learned from the experience of the pandemic. The first is the fact that everybody’s mental and physical health is dependent on contact with nature. We have all experienced that in different ways, and some people have experienced high degrees of discrimination and negative impacts in that respect. What we have learned about

that has never been as clear for humanity. The second thing that we have learned is that the causes of the pandemic that have brought all of us to experience such hardship are environmental. Biodiversity loss, wildlife trade and climate change have all contributed to the exacerbation of diseases and their transmission. At the outset, the key motivations for us are to understand what we have learned

and why we should not do the things that we are doing, which have led to the current situation. That is crucial in enabling people to understand that what might seem like sacrifices are actually huge investments in our wellbeing. Dr Howell: I will focus on just one area—transport—so that I can give a short answer.

I welcome the mention of plans to work with local authorities to make the reallocation of road space for active travel permanent, where appropriate, and further measures regarding, for example, bus prioritisation and parking restrictions. However, I do not think that the plan goes far enough in building on the pandemic situation. I have already mentioned aviation, so I will not—[Inaudible.] The independent review

of the cleaner air for Scotland strategy recommended that trunk road expansion should end. That has been ignored, although it would have tremendous benefits in reducing air pollution. Building trunk roads is an example of the kind of policy that Stewart Stevenson alluded to. If roads are built, that gives a signal to people to use roads, so if new roads are built, we see more traffic on the roads. During lockdown, people really appreciated the fact that there was less air pollution, the air seemed clearer, the roads were safer and so on. There was a very obvious change. That is one area where it would be possible to adopt what might seem a bold policy, but which is a very necessary policy—to end trunk road expansion. I think that that might

be more popular than people would expect, as long as alternatives are made easier and more normal. The Deputy Convener (Finlay Carson): Unfortunately, our convener has dropped out because of connection problems, so I will take over her role for the time being. We will move straight on to Claudia Beamish, who has some questions on the just transition and a green recovery. Claudia Beamish (South Scotland) (Lab): My questions follow on seamlessly—I hope—from the questions about behaviour change. The witnesses will all be aware that the just

transition commission has given advice on a green recovery. Among the issues that it has highlighted are the need for a sense of direction and for conditions to be attached to funding. It also said that skills development needs to be aligned with the transition to net zero, which the committee thinks is important.

Please comment if you want to, but do not feel that you must, if you think that it would not be useful. We have discussed frequent flyers and consumers of flights, but we have not talked about the implications for workers in the aviation industry. Communities will be affected, too. I invite the witnesses to explore the transition, starting with Elisa Morgera. Professor Morgera: One opportunity for transformation that has not yet been used is the requirement for impact assessments, which already exists in the Scottish legal system. Those are usually treated as box-ticking exercises, but they can be genuinely

transformative chances to understand what the impacts and the opportunities are for different groups. The point about communities is crucial; there might be opportunities to work more coherently and on better-integrated assessments in order to understand the effects and potential benefits of different solutions. If we use the existing impact assessment tools for island communities, for equalities, for children and for the environment, that will create opportunities for dialogue. We could talk about the options and benefits and about any other ideas that communities and workers—who might be facing great sacrifices—might have. That would be one way to go about things. It must be done in context and systematically, and it must give people a real chance to participate in co-development of solutions. That is how a transition can be just and inclusive. Dr Howell: The setting up of the just transition commission is a good step forward. In the “Just Transition Commission Interim Report” and “Just Transition

Commission: advice on a green recovery”, the commission made several detailed and specific recommendations, including on the creation of a large-scale fossil-fuel decommissioning programme. It is not clear in the draft climate change plan whether the Scottish Government intends to act on those recommendations. There is a lot of good talk in the plan about a just transition; it is good that the plan recognises that that is necessary. However, from the reference—[Inaudible.] —but the Government gives no detailed analysis in the plan of the impact of those policies. The commission called for that and it is necessary. When I suggest that the Government should seize the moment to act on aviation, I am, however, also concerned about the jobs of the people involved. I am not cavalier about

the fact that there will be job losses. We need analysis of how many jobs will go, what sorts of jobs they will be and what retraining might be required. There might be a need for retraining in some cases, but not in others; there are jobs in the aviation industry—such as admin and hospitality jobs—that are similar to jobs elsewhere. There must be an analysis of the polices that we have suggested should be added and of those that are already detailed in the plan—analysis of the impact that the policies will have on jobs and of what training or new jobs can sensibly be suggested for the people who will lose their jobs. This is not about taking people’s jobs away from them; the jobs will eventually be lost anyway, in many cases. We have seen that in the oil and gas industry, where there is currently an unplanned transition and people are losing their jobs because of the fall in prices.

It is important, therefore, to ensure a planned and fair transition. Dr Carmichael: On the just transition and jobs, any opportunity for co-development or to develop an inclusive plan for communities that are affected by the transition will be a good thing. It is important that people believe that green jobs will come to replace the ones that we will move away from. That matters nationally and

at community level. It would be interesting to collect evidence of the green jobs that are created as we progress. We could set up a tracker that monitors all kinds of co-benefits, including the jobs that are created. That could be a good set of data to share with people as a way of demonstrating that jobs have been created—rather than their just being lost—and that communities have transitioned in a planned way. I am not sure whether that will be completely captured in the monitoring framework. The Convener: Claudia, have you finished your questions? Claudia Beamish: Yes. That was very helpful.

The Convener: I apologise for the technical glitch; my connection dropped for a bit. I thank Finlay Carson for holding the fort. We come to questions from Angus MacDonald. Angus MacDonald (Falkirk East) (SNP): Thank you, convener. Professor Morgera has covered the human rights-based approach well throughout the evidence session. Witnesses will be aware that, in its report on the green recovery, the committee recommended that “the Scottish Government further embed a human rights based approach to recovery, underpinned by the key principles of participation, accountability, non-discrimination, empowerment and law.”

In evidence to our inquiry, the Scottish Human Rights Commission considered that exclusively recognising human rights and Scotland’s human rights obligations, especially the right to a healthy environment, are relevant to a green recovery. The right to a healthy environment is clearly linked to other rights, including the rights to adequate standards of living, housing and health, and to democratic participation. As I said, Professor Morgera covered the issue well in her opening remarks, but I am keen to hear from the witnesses on that, because although the draft climate change plan update recognises that climate change is a human rights issue, it does not explicitly explain what that looks like in practice. How can an approach that is based on human rights be practically implemented? Does the draft CCP update set out the key elements for its implementation? Professor Morgera: The draft plan refers to climate change as a human rights issue, but it misses a big opportunity to make human rights, in the context of the plan, a key driver of transformation, by recognising that human rights, and engaging with human rights holders, can be a key practical way to engage, to leverage willingness and to co-build practical solutions and create alliances of willing contributors in society beyond Government.

I also agree that it will be helpful to pinpoint in the plan where human rights come into play. For example, where we are looking at a human rights issue, such as human health—human health is mentioned several times, but there is no mention of the human right to health and its benefits—the human right to food, the rights of children, persons with disabilities or—[Inaudible.]—communities, being explicit about where the plan supports human rights will bring more alliances and give the clear sense that human rights can and will be used by the Scottish Government as a transformative and practical tool. The second aspect, which is very practical, is what a human rights approach would mean, with regard both to the process and to thinking about genuine participation of all human rights holders. That means providing relevant information to them and listening to the information and the knowledge that they bring, and thinking about, for example, child-friendly and formalised opportunities for children, persons with disabilities and others to exercise their political lives in the process. That is one way in which non-discrimination can be achieved. We need to be practical about what will be put in place in order for the engagement plan to be a real dialogue for change and for building partnerships. Human rights provide very practical tools and examples

for that. The other aspect is the substance—how the plan will deliver on that. As a minimum, it must be about what we will do to avoid foreseeable negative impacts on human rights that might arise from the transition. Ideally, however, it should also be proactive by identifying

all the co-benefits for all the human rights that depend on a healthy environment. The more explicit we are, the more joined-up thinking can happen and the more everyday accountability across sectors will be in the spotlight. There is also work to do on engaging the private sector on its responsibility to respect human rights and to see its role as having very specific impacts on everyone’s human rights. The Convener: Does Doctor Howell have anything to add? Dr Howell: No, thank you. I am happy with that.

The Convener: I will give Dr Carmichael a chance to add anything, if he wishes to, although this is really Professor Morgera’s patch. If you have comments, it would be best to make them now. Dr Carmichael: I will add a quick comment, although this is not my area. Professor Morgera mentioned co-benefits. It would be interesting to think a bit more about the data that could demonstrate, for example, the health benefits or the costs of air quality and how those will impact on people in the future. If we had a stronger data set, and the data were better disseminated, we could use it not only to talk about co-benefits in general but to illustrate the narratives on intergenerational justice issues. It is always best if there is data to demonstrate consequences—especially for younger generations.

Angus MacDonald: I am conscious of the time, so I will ask only a brief supplementary question. What more does Professor Morgera think could be done to realise economic, social and cultural rights? For example, should there be resourced and time-bound specific policies with measurable outcomes? Professor Morgera: Those are always tricky balancing exercises. A commitment to considering and clearly identifying the considerations that should be in different parts of the plan would be a strong signal, but I hesitate to say whether we should have more quantified or clearer targets. For example, we should make a clear commitment to respect the human right to housing, including accessible housing, as a consideration that should be clearly discussed in participatory processes and in co-development of systemic changes in that sector. Consideration of all the human rights that depend on, say, ocean use change, as opposed to looking at isolated examples of offshore renewables development, would be another clear signal that we support such joined-up thinking, and would open up the subject to debate and co-developmental solutions. It is crucial that, at every step of the way, we point out

the considerations that relate to human rights. Other examples are planning considerations on use of plastics and on travel restrictions, which should take into account the impacts on people with disabilities. We need to highlight such notions so that public debate and co-developmental solutions can happen. However, it is hard to set those as priorities without engaging with rights

holders and learning from them what really matters to them and what solutions they can bring to the table. Angus MacDonald: Does Dr Howell have a view on that? Dr Howell: I have nothing to add. The Convener: We have come to the end of our first evidence session. I thank our witnesses for their helpful evidence, which has given the committee an awful lot to think about and to dig into, as we speak to other witnesses over the next few weeks.

I suspend the meeting for a minute or so to allow for a change of witnesses, after which we will be back to hear from our second panel. The Convener: On our second panel, we have Eilidh Mactaggart, chief executive officer of the Scottish National Investment Bank; Andy Kerr, director for UK and Ireland of Climate-KIC; Clare Reid, policy and public affairs director with the Scottish Council for Development and Industry; and Tom Shields, member of the just transition commission. I am not sure whether you heard the evidence that we had from the first panel, but I started that session off by asking the same questions that I will ask you. Is the climate change plan update as bold as it should be? Are there clearly indicated pathways to get to our net zero goals and, within those, our interim targets? I am asking not just about things that might happen in future, but things that can happen from this point in time using available technologies and the pathways and policy decisions that have been outlined. I will go round everyone

to get their views. I will then come on to my colleagues to dig into the detail of that. Tom Shields (Just Transition Commission): Good morning. Can everyone hear me? The Convener: Yes, we can hear you perfectly. Tom Shields: I think that it is a bold plan. There are challenging targets in it, and it recognises a number of very significant challenges in areas such as transport. The need for cultural change

is brought through strongly, as is the need for investment. I am particularly interested that the need for private investment as well as money from the public purse has been well recognised. It is a challenging plan. On just transition, the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019 requires three elements of future climate change plans. The first is that the principles of just transition should be embedded throughout the plans. I think that the current update to the plan

takes that a step forward, and I am pleased that many of the recommendations of the just transition commission have been embedded in the plan—that is good. The second requirement in the act is to “explain how the proposals and policies set out in the plan are expected to affect different sectors of the Scottish economy and different regions in Scotland, including how they are expected to affect employment in those sectors and regions”. The third requirement is that plans should “set out ... proposals and policies for supporting the workforce, employers and communities”. I do not think that the plan really meets the last two of those three requirements, which are the requirement to analyse and provide a clear assessment of the impacts on people and employment, and the requirement to give an explanation of the policies that the Government will enact to manage those impacts so that there is a just transition.

Therefore, there is more work to be done, but the update is a good step forward. The Deputy Convener: Thank you. You might have noticed that, unfortunately, we have again lost our convener. I ask Andy Kerr to answer the same question.

Andy Kerr (Climate-KIC): I agree with Tom Shields. I welcome the strong ambition and some of the high-level statements in the plan. I think that it is adequately bold. In terms of whether the plan facilitates system change and sets a pathway, I think that there has been a material change in the language and the approach in the plan in comparison with previous plans. It explicitly talks about being iterative—it is about learning by

doing. It is about being collaborative—about working with local authorities and business groups. It also talks about the need to lever in private investment, which is incredibly important, because we need to get away from the notion that, if the Government throws a few pots of money at the problem and pulls a few policy levers, we will magically get a transformation. The update contains a strong recognition of the scale of the transformation

that we need and how we might go about achieving it. When we dig into the detail, we see that there are bits missing, as Tom Shields said. It is a work in progress, and a number of policy documents are coming out now that start to fill in those details. However, as a headline statement on green recovery topics, on multiyear funding commitments, on investment frameworks and on some of the high-level policy asks or aims, particularly around homes and transport, the plan is very good. There are challenges, but we will pick those up in later—[Inaudible.]. The Deputy Convener: Thank you. We move on to Claire Reid.

Clare Reid (Scottish Council for Development and Industry): Good morning, and thank you for inviting us to the meeting. I echo comments that have been made by other participants. We very much welcome the plan. It reflects many of the asks that SCDI made last year in our report on a green recovery. As others have highlighted, there might be areas where the plan could be strengthened. It could have a greater emphasis on reversing biodiversity loss. Our natural capital is one of our greatest assets, and our “Manifesto for Clean Growth” called on the Scottish Government to set nature targets that would align with our climate targets. That is one

area where we would like to see more commitment. As others have highlighted, the ambition is there and the update sets clear targets, but delivery and implementation will be key. There are some areas that we would highlight. In terms of planning, national planning framework 4 will need to be fully aligned with climate and biodiversity targets. Ways to accelerate delivery of some of the ambitions—around net zero developments, for example—will also need to be set out. Zoning and transport have been touched on. We welcome the proposals to bring forward

a ban on new petrol and diesel cars and to reduce the number of car journeys, for example, but we would like to see more about how those are to be achieved. With regard to the work that was done in the spaces for people programme, we would like to see efforts to make those changes more permanent. Also, as touched on by the earlier panel, we should ensure that we invest in the alternative modes of transport that will allow households to more easily choose not to use cars for journeys. Those are two areas that I would mention initially, but we very much welcome the overall ambition of the plan.

The Deputy Convener: Thank you. Finally on question 1, we move to Eilidh Mactaggart. [Interruption.] We cannot hear Eilidh. While her sound gets sorted out, we will move to Liz Smith for questions on sectoral envelopes. Liz Smith: My questions are related to some of the evidence that the committee heard last week and build on responses that we received from the first panel this morning. Is it the witnesses’ impression that the different sectors that are involved in the climate change plan recognise exactly what they have to do in order to meet the ambitious targets that have been set? I am not sure who would like to answer that.

The Deputy Convener: We will start with Andy Kerr. Andy Kerr: Thank you. When we dig into the plan, there is a sense that the extent to which different sectors have taken on board whole-system thinking is pretty variable. In the buildings space, people have really had a go at making those links, but the picture is much less strong in agriculture. It is always difficult. Many

of us having been pushing the Scottish Government to look at the issue in a whole-system way, but it is difficult then to turn around and port in individual sectors. For example, if we think about what agriculture needs to do over the next few years, we cannot get away from issues around market access, post-Brexit issues and where the opportunities are in the bio-economy. However, that also plays into the circular economy, which is barely noted. The plan barely makes reference to the opportunities around things such as wood for construction.

There are real challenges within individual sectors but, to be fair, it is difficult to make something that is whole system and then look at the individual sectors and ask why they are not making links across the piece—and they all have those links. Much can be done to improve the plan over the next wee while by pushing those questions about the linkages between land use and negative emissions technologies, or between the circular economy, land use and the bio-economy and so on. In place making, which is the work that I am heavily involved in, we are asking how we can create and shape spaces in cities, towns and villages so that they end up supporting thriving businesses and great local communities. Those connections are touched on, in better or worse forms, in different parts of the document, but the approach is not consistent across the piece.

Tom Shields: I agree with much of what Andy Kerr said. When we get into the detail of the plan we see quite a difference between the sectors, and agriculture is perhaps the sector where the plan is lightest in terms of giving a clear picture of the pathway to follow to meet the ambition. There is also quite a difference in the challenge for different sectors. In transport, for example, the challenge is very high because of the need for cultural change.

The Deputy Convener: Thank you. I hope that we now have Eilidh Mactaggart. Eilidh Mactaggart (Scottish National Investment Bank): Hi there. Can you hear me? The Deputy Convener: That is better. Eilidh Mactaggart: Excellent. I had to drop the connection and

come back in, so could the question be repeated? Liz Smith: In last week’s evidence session with Scottish Government officials and in the session with our first panel this morning, we heard some concern that sectors are moving at very different pace. I asked whether those who are implementing the climate change plan in different sectors feel that they have enough detail and information on exactly how they will achieve its ambition. Eilidh Mactaggart: We have sufficient detail to get started. We know the direction of travel—that is very clear—and the plan’s ambition on where we want to get to and when. The plan aligns very closely with missions that have been set up for the bank. The climate initiative is our primary mission; it is somewhat omnipresent across our other missions as well. I cannot see that we would get involved in investing

in place making without taking the climate change elements into consideration. For example, when my team hears of a development opportunity with a 20-minute or active travel commute, as opposed to longer commutes by car, our ears prick up with interest at the multi-aligned opportunities to invest. I believe that we have enough to get started. Such things will always unfold and cannot be predicted, but we will seek to invest to support the delivery of the plan and crowd in private capital. Earlier, when the committee could not hear me, I was trying to say that the private capital that the plan needs is keen to invest. I hope that the bank can help to cornerstone and bring in that investment to help deliver the plan.

Liz Smith: Thank you. The Deputy Convener: Does Clare Reid want to comment? Clare Reid: We would agree that the plan is definitely the highest item on the agenda for all our members, and certainly for those who engaged in our research. What is needed probably varies from sector to sector. Some of that is in industry’s sights and people are getting on with it, but there are sectors that perhaps require further support and signals from the Government through the plan. For example, the electricity sector probably has quite a credible pathway to get to net zero carbon, but perhaps more clarity is required about how it can also achieve the jobs and local content that are the plan’s ambition.

We strongly support carbon capture and storage as one of the actions that will be required to achieve net zero carbon emissions from industry. We have also highlighted that there is support in relation to travel, but that more investment is possibly required, particularly to support active travel. I concur with the earlier point about agriculture and land use. There is a willingness to change,

but agriculture may not have been as engaged as other sectors. We called for two things in our “Manifesto for Clean Growth”. The first is a new system of farm payments that protects biodiversity and supports innovative food production. The second is a national scrappage scheme to help farmers and crofters fund purchases of new low-carbon equipment and machinery.

We certainly think that there are lot of credible paths but that different sectors have different needs when it comes to helping them get to where they need to be. The Deputy Convener: We move to questions from Claudia Beamish. Claudia Beamish: Some of this has been covered already, but I have a question for you all on the sectoral envelopes and the balance of ambition and ef

2021-02-01 13:47

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