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Highland rewilding charity slams Scottish Government for ditching 2030 carbon emission target

By Scott Maclennan

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The river Affric running into Loch Beinn a Mheadhoin in Glen Affric, Affric Highlands.
The river Affric running into Loch Beinn a Mheadhoin in Glen Affric, Affric Highlands.

The Scottish Government decision to abandon its “world-leading” target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 75 per cent by 2030 has been called “hugely worrying and a move in the wrong direction” by a Highlands-based rewilding charity.

Head of nature restoration for Trees for Life, Alan McDonnell, put the blame on Scottish government ministers who he argues have failed to “seize the huge opportunities offered by large-scale nature restoration”.

Earlier today Màiri McAllan cabinet secretary for Net Zero had to first apologise to the Scottish Parliament after the news was leaked to the media on Wednesday evening before making her statement.

Amid widespread condemnation for the move Ms McAllan said she was “disappointed” to announce the decision but said Scotland would remain a “world leader” in climate change action

Last month, the Climate Change Committee said the measures that would be needed to achieve the target by the end of the decade were "beyond what is credible."

The committee accused Scottish Government ministers of "failing" on the ambitious goals after missing eight out of the last 12 legally-binding goals to reduce emissions, adding there was “a lack of progress all round."

First Minister Humza Yousaf said earlier on Thursday that the target of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2045 will remain.

Friends of the Earth Scotland said it was "the worst environmental decision in the history of the Scottish Parliament" and Oxfam Scotland said the climbdown was “an acute global embarrassment.”

Mr McDonnell echoed some of the Climate Change Committee’s words saying: "With the dual climate and nature emergencies posing a growing threat to us all, weakening Scotland's ambition to urgently reduce greenhouse gas emissions is hugely worrying and a move in the wrong direction.

“At the same time, ministers have yet to seize the huge opportunities offered by large-scale nature restoration as another major solution for tackling climate breakdown, with Scotland instead languishing as one of the most nature-depleted countries on Earth.

"But it's not too late to act, and solutions are there. Alongside reducing greenhouse gas emissions with urgency, Scotland has the opportunity and choice to declare itself the world's first Rewilding Nation, committing to 30 per cent nature recovery across land and sea.

“This would soak up carbon, and help hard-pressed communities cope with climate breakdown's droughts, floods and wildfires, while bolstering food security and creating a cascade of benefits for people from new jobs to better health to re-peopling of depopulated landscapes."

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