RSPB Scotland Senior Policy Officer Isobel Mercer reflects on the devastating report from the UN published earlier this week, and points us toward our opportunities to Fight For Scotland’s Nature.

Investing in nature-based solutions through a Scottish Environment Act

It has been a busy few weeks for the environment. Climate breakdown has moved swiftly up the political agenda and public consciousness due to the climate protests, school strikes and publication of two important and high-profile scientific reports on addressing this global emergency.

The First Minister’s welcome acknowledgement of the climate emergency was quickly followed by the Scottish Government setting a more ambitious target of achieving net zero emissions by 2045, cancelling plans to reduce air departure tax by 50% and introducing a bottle deposit return scheme. These actions should be applauded and watching nations should take note and follow suit. Well done for standing up for the environment!

This week then saw publication of a shocking new UN report that laid bare the true scale of global declines in nature. The report calls for transformative change across all human interactions with nature. It found that 1 MILLION species across the world are at risk of extinction within decades. 75% of the earth’s land surface and 66% of its oceans have been significantly altered, with our ever increasing demands for more food and energy the main driver. We were therefore absolutely thrilled to hear our politicians debating biodiversity loss in the Scottish Parliament yesterday. The First Minister rightly acknowledged that the global nature crisis is as significant as the climate emergency and said she wants Scotland to lead the charge on this vital issue. These statements are significant and hugely welcome.

The twin climate and ecological crises are intrinsically linked and we need to tackle them through joined-up nature-based solutions. The opportunities in Scotland are huge and place us in a strong position to take the lead in the global change needed. Pioneering partnership initiatives like Cairngorms Connect, which sets a 200-year vision for restoring nature at a massive scale, should be replicated. Restoration of Scotland’s peatlands must be a priority, with the potential to deliver massive benefits for nature as well as storing huge amounts of carbon and moving us closer to net zero emissions. 

Brexit has the potential to derail us all from this mission-critical global challenge, but also to undermine the progress we’ve already made in securing strong protections for our wildlife. The Scottish Government’s Environmental Principles and Governance consultation, which closes this Saturday 11th May, is a chance for the Scottish Government to put into practice its vision for ‘one planet prosperity’ to live within our boundaries, as well as delivering its commitment to maintain or exceed existing EU protections.

RSPB Scotland has welcomed this consultation and today we formally submitted our response. We have called for EU environmental principles to be incorporated in law, and for a hard look at who is responsible for overseeing environmental protections in Scotland. We believe that the Scottish Government should introduce a new Environment Watchdog and an Environmental Court to make sure that environmental laws are effectively scrutinised and enforced, and that Scotland’s people will continue to have a voice, to defend their right to a healthy environment.

Fight for Scotland’s Nature is calling for a Scottish Environment Act that will safeguard and build on EU protections. Thirty-five environmental charities across Scotland have joined forces for the campaign. Today is your last chance to take part in our e-action. By adding your voice you’ll be sending a clear message to the Government that they need to take real action now to safeguard Scotland’s environment and create a better future for nature and for people.

  • Thanks for publicising this important consultation and e-action again. Since the start of the consultation in February, many voices have added to the clamour for urgent and effective action. Scotland, unlike the rest of the UK, is taking this seriously, but we still need to ensure that it is delivered in the correct manner.