In an unprecedented move, six Scottish Government Ministers  have been called to Parliament to explain their plans to reduce Scotland’s emissions - plans which the diverse Stop Climate Chaos coalition has branded ‘not credible’.
Throughout history, writers have been spokespeople for social change, and with global warming a real threat to our planet, now is no different. With specially commissioned stories, many of the UK’s foremost writers address our most pertinent problem.
From Joanne Harris’ techno-dystopia, where parks and bees are no more, to the soldiers paroling the ravaged Welsh landscapes of Jem Poster’s ‘Visitation’, we’re shown our world, altered. Toby Litt uses the analogy of a knickerbocker glory to explain what we’re all about, and Nick Hayes tells the tale of a mysterious woodland hart through striking illustrations in his graphic story.
This is a stunning collection of writing that will shock, amaze and entertain in equal measure. All royalties go to Stop Climate Chaos.
Opinion piece in the Scotsman
Today the Scottish Government will publish its second climate change action plan.
The Scottish Government has shown an ‘extremely worrying’ lack of ambition in its new plans to reduce emissions, a leading coalition said today. 
- Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest
Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) played a key role in the development of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, which remains the strongest climate change legislation in the world. Watch our short video to find out more about how SCCS, as the largest civil society coalition in Scotland, influenced Scotland's climate laws.
SCCS is now working to ensure that the commitments set out in the Scottish Climate Change Act become a reality and that Scotland meets its targets to reduce emissions by 42% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.
On 29th January 2013, the Government's draft plan for meeting Scotland's climate change targets were published. Stop Climate Chaos has analysed this and does not believe this is a credible plan for reducing Scotland's emissions according to the Scottish Climate Change Act. We need Government to 'Get its Act together!' on climate change. During February, people across Scotland met with and wrote to their MSPs highlighting their concerns about this plan. Thanks to everyone who go involved in that action.
The Scottish Parliament has now considered the Scottish Government's draft plans to reduce Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions and has made recommendations on how these plans can be improved. The Scottish Government will then publish the final version of its plans to reduce emissions between now and 2027. Stop Climate Chaos has joined with others to highlight the need for more action to reduce emissions from the transport sector in particular. You can read more about this in our Parliamentary briefing on this topic.
Climate change science
Is climate change happening?
Yes. The scientific evidence that the world is getting warmer is overwhelming. Tree rings, glaciers and other natural sources, as well as human records, show that climate has changed considerably over the past few centuries, but the ten warmest years on record have occurred since 1998 .
These measurements are borne out by retreating snow cover and glaciers, rising sea levels (due to water expanding as it warms and loss of land-based ice), and increasing extremes of dry and wet weather, leading to ever more frequent droughts, heat waves and flooding across the world .
Is climate change definitely caused by human activity, not by natural phenomena?
Scientists have mapped everything from sun spot activity, planetary orbits, polar shift and volcanic activity to see if something else explains the change. They have also considered the effect of natural climate variations, such as El Niño and La Niña (which cause warming and cooling of the Pacific Ocean surface). Scientists conclude that only the increasing trend of atmospheric CO2 concentrations is big enough to match (almost perfectly) the global temperature trend.
CO2 and other gases such as methane in the earth’s atmosphere capture heat that would otherwise escape to space: the ‘greenhouse effect’. The dramatic growth of CO2 in the atmosphere has been caused by human activities such as deforestation and industrial burning of fossil fuels . All of this is clear from the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the scientific body, made up of thousands of climate scientists across the world, that was set up to provide a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge of climate change and its potential environmental, social and economic impacts .
If the planet’s warming, why have we had more snow during recent winters?
The particularly cold winters of 2009–10 and 2010–11 have been interpreted by some as evidence against global warming. However, local weather in one part of the world is not an indicator of global climatic trends. Scientists record the increase in global climate by averaging measurements from all over the world. So the global climate is not the same as weather in individual places.
What global temperature is safe?
Scientists predict that, if global temperatures rise more than 2°C over pre-industrial levels, extreme droughts, floods and heat waves will become more frequent and 20-30% of species face a high risk of extinction . Loss of water resources, disruption to agriculture, forest fires, flooding by rising sea levels, and wider damage to ecosystems could reach catastrophic levels.
Currently, global temperatures have risen by 0.75°C since the start of the twentieth century . And as these are global averages, temperatures in some regions, particularly the Arctic, have increased considerably more. The problem is that the hotter it gets, the more likely we are to experience ‘feedbacks’ (see below) in natural systems, in which huge stores of CO2 or methane are released because of warming temperatures, resulting in even greater temperature change. So what sound like small global average temperature changes could have huge impacts.
What are these feedbacks?
There are many potential feedbacks which can cause accelerated global warming. For instance:
- Polar ice and snow reflects sunlight, whereas sea water, which increases as polar ice and snow melts, absorbs sunlight;
- Forests and soils dry out and burn, releasing CO2 and absorbing less;
- Permafrost heats up, releasing methane;
- Seas warm up and become more acidic, releasing stored CO2.
What was the ‘Climategate’ email hacking in 2009 all about?
In November 2009, 1,000 private emails and documents were stolen or leaked from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit. Select contents were used by some to suggest that scientists had been manipulating or hiding data. As a result of the various official investigations that took place, the scientists were absolved of fiddling their results and trying to silence their critics, but they were criticised for not working in a more open, accessible manner.
However, all the unit’s scientific findings which supported the view that global warming is human-induced were found to be correct and reliable .
How credible are the challenges to the science from climate ‘sceptics’ or ‘deniers’?
Every academy of science in the world agrees that human activities are the primary cause of global warming .
Challenges from climate deniers look even less credible when they refuse to reveal how their activities are funded. For instance the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a particularly prominent climate change sceptic think tank headed by Lord Lawson, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, has refused several Freedom of Information requests for more openness about its operations, including the identity of its financial backers .
More information on this topic is available at www.skepticalscience.com.
Aren’t we in Scotland only 0.2% of global CO2?
The UK Government claims that Scotland is responsible for 0.2% of global CO2, but this doesn’t take our global impact into full account. Whilst Scotland’s overall contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is small, as a developed nation we have a disproportionately high carbon footprint per head of population. Our footprint also goes well beyond our national borders, both in terms of the goods we import from elsewhere, and Scottish business operations based abroad.
As a developed nation which has benefited from the industrial revolution, we have a responsibility to reduce our carbon emissions. We have a world-leading climate change law and expertise in, for example, renewable energy technologies to export, and natural resources to utilise, that enable us to deliver our world-leading ambitions on climate change.
Where are most emissions coming from?
Scottish emissions increased in 2010 (latest figures available as at March 2013) compared to the previous year, but overall are 24% lower now than in 1990 (the baseline year for calculating reductions) . The transport and home energy and power sectors are the only areas where emissions are higher now than they were in 1990.
In terms of worldwide emissions, highest emissions levels per capita are small, rich, energy-intensive countries like Qatar, which in 2009 emitted nearly 80 tonnes of CO2 per person, compared to the UK’s 8 tonnes, Australia’s 20 tonnes, Canada’s 19 and the United States’ 18 tonnes per person .
 Met Office (2011). 2010: A near-record year; www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2011/2010-global-temperature
 For a more detailed overview, see Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC), Climate Factsheets (PIRC, 2010), pp. 10-13, 16-19.
 The Royal Society, Climate Change: A Summary of the Science (The Royal Society, 2010), royalsociety.org/uploadedFiles/Royal_Society_Content/policy/publications/2010/4294972962.pdf
 IPCC, 2007: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-spm.pdf
 IPCC, 2007: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg2/ar4-wg2-spm.pdf
 For a good introduction, see The Guardian, 7.7.10, www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jul/07/climate-emails-question-answer
 Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand, Haydn Washington and John Cook
 The Guardian, 21.2.12, www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/feb/21/climate-change-sceptic-not-influential-funder
 UK Committee on Climate Change, March 2013, Second Scottish Progress Report, P13, www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/1674_CCC_Scots-Report_bookmarked_2.pdf
 The Guardian, World carbon dioxide emissions data by country, January 2011, www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/jan/31/world-carbon-dioxide-emissions-country-data-co2
Civil society priorities for the Procurement Reform Bill
- This is a key opportunity for Scotland to deliver on climate change targets and signal a clear shift towards a low carbon economy.
- This Bill must clearly set a strategic intention and purpose of government to procure all its products, materials and services sustainably.
- The Bill must provide a legal framework to facilitate and achieve the transition towards sustainable procurement, with clarity on how environmental benefits will be safeguarded.
- The Bill must give proper importance to environmental benefits alongside social and economic benefits.
- Sustainable procurement requires an integrated approach from the start of the procurement process.