Good evening! This week's edition of the In Common newsletter comes from Craig Dalzell, Common Weal's head of policy and research.​

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THE Climate Change Committee has declared that it no longer finds the Scottish Government’s Net Zero plan to be credible.

It also stated that the Government will breach its statutory duty to reduce carbon emissions by 2030 by 75% (with no catch-up plan in place to reach net zero by 2045) and that instead of there being a comprehensive strategy to reach net zero, the best we have is a series of ad hoc, disconnected announcements.

READ MORE: Here's how to cut Scotland’s material consumption levels

This comes off the back of the Scottish Government being found to be acting unlawfully by not publishing the expected carbon impact of its policies, in line with those statutory targets. Not to mention that “net zero” is itself insufficient as it merely promises that Scotland will continue to pollute until 2045 before stopping but makes no promise to fix the damage we’ve already caused (particularly on the Global South both in the present and during our colonialist exploitation of those nations).

The National: Summer weather Aug 10th 2022

It’s looking increasingly likely that the world, including Scotland, will break its promise to limit global warming to +1.5C and we’re getting close to breaking the +2.0C absolute limit that will maintain the planet in a state even remotely resembling the one I was born into. In short, governments’ targets were too low. Their promised policies fell short of meeting those targets (if their effect was predicted at all). And the actions to enact those policies have not been good enough.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is clear that every fraction of a degree of warming averted matters but that every fraction of a degree that we fail to avert will result in even more costs in terms of mitigation – with Scotland being the pioneer of state-led loss and damage compensation to those affected by climate change, that the costs will happen “not here” isn’t an excuse.

Nor is it even true. The damage is here, now. The costs are mounting. We’re all paying the price for inaction and delay that, by now, is little different from outright climate change denial. Bill McGuire’s article in The Guardian this week outlines the price of our failure directly on us.

The National:

Scotland is a little further north and a little cooler than the south of England but we’re still vulnerable. How much will need to be spent protecting our coastal cities from sea-level rise? Falkirk has just agreed a £500 million plan to protect part of itself – mostly Grangemouth – and I know of a local authority environmental officer who warned their council that they’d soon have to pick and choose which settlements to abandon because otherwise flood defences would exceed 100% of total council spending.

Flooding isn’t just a coastal issue and Scotland’s delays to land reform mean that our grazed-bare hillsides will become even more vulnerable to water runoff, landslips and loss of vital soil (and the carbon locked within it). The second-best time to plant a tree is always now, how much could have been saved if the Rest and Be Thankful had been surrounded by mature forest decades ago?

The National: The Common Weal report says action such as insulation and heat pumps should be part of a major

What will be the cost to the NHS as Scotland’s climate becomes more chaotic? When the lack of insulation in our houses leads to deaths during summer heatwaves and more deaths during winter polar vortexes? Or when the failure to reform transport continues to cause long-term health problems due to pollution? Or when the lack of resilience in our food supplies cannot cope when food we import never makes it to harvest? (For a preview of the last two in particular, see Covid, Brexit, the energy crisis and growing global unrest.)

When the Scottish Government started boasting about its climate targets being “world leading”, it built up the evidently false expectation that we’d see world-leading actions to meet those targets. My own hope for that was dashed mere months after that initial announcement when we wrote up and published our Common Home Plan – the world’s first fully comprehensive, fully budgeted Green New Deal – in late 2019 and saw just how much work we were facing but how little the Scottish Government told us at the time they were willing to actually take on (they’ve since adopted a bit more ... but not enough, not quickly enough and not strategically enough – we don’t need the Climate Change Committee (CCC) to be able to say that).

READ MORE: Meet the Scottish women fighting the climate crisis

Climate policies are often portrayed as being a sacrifice – money spent to prevent us doing things – but it’s really not. Done right, it will lead to better, healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives. In that sense, we should be doing it even if the primary goal wasn’t saving the planet too.

What is clear from the CCC’s report though is that settling for anything less than something as ambitious as the Common Home Plan will be even more expensive, will lead to lower living conditions and won’t even meet our legally binding goal to protect the climate. An option even worse than that is to do what we’re currently doing: pretending to take enough action and failing to do even that.