Climate campaigners today called on Ministers to use their powers to strengthen Scotland's world leading climate legislation.
Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) welcomed a consultation on draft guidance to public bodies on their new climate change duties, which come into force in January.
The duties say that public bodies must consider climate change in all they do and act in the ways best calculated to help deliver the tough targets on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Public bodies must also adapt to future changes in the climate in a sustainable way. But the reporting regime is only voluntary, meaning it may have gaps and so may not provide sufficient information to help monitor what action is being taken across Scotland by the public sector.
SCCS said that Ministers should use their statutory powers under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 to set up an effective mandatory annual reporting system. This would underpin the success of the new duties and should include proper scrutiny of the reports.
Tom Ballantine, Chair of SCCS, said: "Early action on cutting emissions is vital to preventing runaway climate change. If we don't get the reporting system right from the start, we could lose valuable time and Scotland would be at risk of a dangerous early delay in meeting its world leading targets.
"This would damage confidence at a time when the public sector and the Scottish Government should be leading by example and driving forward the policies to deliver the targets."
Dave Watson, UNISON Scottish Organiser, said: "We have ample evidence from other reporting regimes that not only do voluntary measures not deliver the information you need, but the organisations themselves would also welcome a reporting template which they can incorporate into their existing annual reporting mechanisms. The guidance should provide this."
SCCS will be submitting a response to the consultation that also argues for more emphasis in the guidance on involving the workforce and the general public in what their local councils, health boards and other public bodies are doing to protect the planet.
Dave added: "We won't achieve these targets without bringing on board everyone in Scotland and the public sector has a crucial role. The guidance must make that clear and encourage a bottom up approach, not a top down one.
"The most important thing that is needed is a step change where all public bodies incorporate climate change into their business planning so that it is routinely taken into account in decision-making.
"If that is happening, it will be straightforward to report on what the organisation is doing to comply with the duty. With mandatory annual reporting and proper monitoring we will be able to effectively assess the overall picture to see if we are on course to meet the targets."
The Public Bodies Climate Change Duties Consultation can be viewed online on the consultation web pages of the Scottish Government website at www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2010/09/16112110/0
- Return to SCC Scotland archive news 2010