22 December 2011

(S4O-00525) Climate Change Delivery Plan

Marco Biagi (Edinburgh Central) (SNP): 7. To ask the Scottish Government whether it plans to update or publish a progress report on its climate change delivery plan. (S4O-00525)

The Minister for Environment and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson):

The “Climate Change Delivery Plan: Meeting Scotland’s Statutory Climate Change Targets” was published in June 2009 and it described four transformational outcomes that are necessary in order to achieve Scotland’s long-term emissions reduction targets. The delivery plan was followed in March 2011 by “Low Carbon Scotland: Meeting the Emissions Reduction Targets 2010-2022”, which is the Scottish Government’s first statutory report on proposals and policies setting out specific measures for reducing greenhouse gases. The measures draw on the transformational outcomes described in the delivery plan. A second RPP will be published next year, describing how emissions targets to 2027 can be met.

Marco Biagi: I very much welcome that answer from the minister. A number of respected environmental groups have expressed concerns that the current RPP, although it is a fine document, does not necessarily set out which groups are responsible for which actions and how each of them will be funded. Can the minister give some insight into whether that will be addressed in the next RPP or in other statutory reports that are required by the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009?

Stewart Stevenson: Discussions on the next RPP are at an early stage. It is certainly true that the Government is not the sole source, or even the major source, of funding for many of the policies and proposals in RPP 1. I expect that in the next report on policies and proposals, that will be the case as well. It is important to realise that there is a break between policies that are committed to by the Government and funded appropriately, and proposals that will, of course, be dealt with at a later stage, which in the case of the next RPP will perhaps be after 2020. The absolute certainty that the member seeks might not be present in RPP 2, but we have listened and we will respond.

(S4O-00524) Greylag Geese (Orkney)

Liam McArthur (Orkney Islands) (LD): 6. To ask the Scottish Executive what assessment it has made of the impact of greylag geese in Orkney and the effectiveness of the measures to limit the damage to agricultural land that the birds cause. (S4O-00524)

The Minister for Environment and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson):

The impact of greylag geese in Orkney was examined in the report on the “Orkney Greylag Goose Feasibility Project”, which was commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage, and in the Scottish Government’s “2010 Review of Goose Management Policy in Scotland”, which was published in February 2011. The Orkney study concluded that, due to a number of factors, including the dispersed nature of wintering flocks, it would be premature to consider a standardised scheme across Orkney.

Following the 2010 review, Scottish Government and SNH officials are working with local farmers on goose-management issues to improve scaring techniques and to streamline the licensing procedure for the control of geese in the close season.

Liam McArthur: I thank the minister for his reply and for his letter of 11 December, which gave some helpful pointers. I would be grateful for clarification—if not now, then subsequently—on a couple of issues that he has not mentioned. He made no mention of extending the open season, which suggestion has been raised in the past. In a letter in July there was reference to consideration of sustainable harvesting of species. It would be helpful to know whether there will be sale of goose meat. The minister said in the letter of 11 December that the national goose management review group is considering a range of options for managing goose populations. More detail on that would be helpful for my constituents.

Stewart Stevenson: I am glad that Liam McArthur has had that letter, which is an extensive one.

On extending the open season, we would prefer in the first instance to rely on licenses to allow farmers to scare geese off by shooting some of them during the close season. That approach is available now and it is relatively straightforward. I acknowledge that there are particular and special problems in Orkney that do not exist on the same scale elsewhere because of the dispersed nature of the goose population and the fact that some 10,000 geese are now resident there all the year round. However, we certainly want to continue to work with local farmers and others to ensure that we have adequate numbers of licenses and trained people to continue shooting during what is currently the close season.

Jamie McGrigor (Highlands and Islands) (Con): Scaring techniques in an offshore archipelago like Orkney tend to result only in moving geese from one island to another. The island of Islay has a very good scheme to manage geese. Would the minister commit to further studies on the impact of the greylag geese in Orkney with a view to introducing an appropriate management scheme in the future?

Stewart Stevenson: Jamie McGrigor makes a perfectly reasonable point about the nature of the Orkney islands. In that respect, the techniques that are applied in Islay will not necessarily transfer readily to Orkney. The key will be the simplification measures that we are undertaking to ensure that it is easier to shoot geese, as appropriate. The programme of shooting could be co-ordinated so that movement of geese such as the member referred to is not simply a consequence with no real benefit.

(S4O-00522) Cities (Environmental Issues)

Humza Yousaf (Glasgow) (SNP): 4. To ask the Scottish Government how it raises awareness of environmental issues in cities. (S4O-00522)

The Minister for Environment and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson):

On 28 November 2011, the Scottish Government and a range of partner organisations launched Scotland’s environment web, which brings together information on Scotland’s environment in one place and in an easily accessible format. The site provides straightforward descriptions of the state of the environment and key messages that highlight our progress in protecting it in a way that is relevant to all areas of Scotland.

Humza Yousaf: On the back of Gil Paterson’s question, I wonder about Scotland’s largest local authority, Glasgow City Council, which is among the poorest performers when it comes to recycling household waste. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency released figures at the tail end of last month that show that only 26.8 per cent of the more than 66,000 tonnes of household waste that were produced in the second quarter of this year was recycled. How can the Scottish Government work with Glasgow City Council to ensure that recycling is given higher priority in our biggest city, and that much more of our household waste is recycled?

Stewart Stevenson: Zero waste Scotland is working closely with Glasgow City Council to give it every possible assistance. I am sure that the council will value that and that zero waste Scotland’s assistance will help it to deliver on the ambitious targets that have been set for waste reduction across Scotland.

Drew Smith (Glasgow) (Lab): Raising awareness is an important part of promoting environmental sustainability in our cities and elsewhere, but funding is also an issue in relation to recycling rates. Does it remain the case that local authorities are funded on the volume of recycling that is currently taking place rather than according to the support that is required, in particular for the tenemental housing in Glasgow, which creates a logistical problem?

Stewart Stevenson: It is clearly important that councils throughout Scotland and everyone in industry and business step up their efforts on recycling. There is a financial benefit to everyone involved when they reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill. I am sure that Glasgow City Council, to which the member referred, and other councils, have the necessary incentives to ensure that they raise their game.

(S4O-00520) United Nations Climate Change Conference

Gordon MacDonald (Edinburgh Pentlands) (SNP): 2. To ask the Scottish Government what impact the outcomes of the recent United Nations climate change conference will have on Scotland. (S4O-00520)

The Minister for Environment and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson):
The outcome at Durban represents a significant success for the European Union in that, for the first time, the major emitter nations have been brought together behind a timetable for a global climate treaty to be agreed by 2015 and in force by 2020. There is an opportunity now to build on that success, which has boosted certainty about the global low-carbon future, in which Scotland, as the green energy capital of Europe, can have a competitive advantage. However, there will be many challenges for the global community in the years ahead in delivering on the commitments that were made at Durban.

Gordon MacDonald: With Scotland being a world leader in the climate change agenda, what lessons and experience was the minister able to share with conference delegates?

Stewart Stevenson: One of the key elements of my message in my meetings with other leaders was that despite being a developed modern nation we can set ambitious climate change targets. Our target of a 42 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020 is—with that which is now set in the United Kingdom—the highest legally enforced target in the world. Our agenda of creating new industry from the opportunity that is presented by renewable energy has attracted widespread interest, and we will continue to engage with as many people internationally as we reasonably can.

Claire Baker (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab): How, specifically, will the outcomes of the Durban conference impact on the Scottish Government’s target of reducing CO2 emissions by 42 per cent?

Stewart Stevenson: Under the land use, land-use change and forestry agenda, some progress was made in taking forward the inclusion of wetlands—or, in our case, peatlands—in the calculation for sucking in carbon dioxide and reduction in methane emissions. Early in the new year, we will host in Edinburgh a meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s panel on wetlands. We have the specific prospect of improvement in that situation and reward for the work that we are already undertaking to restore peatlands.

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