Scotland has arguably the strongest climate change legislation in the world in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act. The legislation commits Scotland to reducing emissions by 42% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 - targets which are among the most ambitious in the world.
Targets are important but delivery is what matters. To that end we lobbied successfully for a statutory duty on public bodies to take account of climate change in the exercise of their functions.
The Scottish Government is now developing guidance on how public bodies should deliver on this duty. Yesterday was the first meeting of the Advisory Board tasked with preparing that guidance. It includes representatives of all the main groups of public bodies and myself representing the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland coalition.
The first meeting was an opportunity to explore different approaches to the construction of the guidance. There will be a number of informal stakeholder workshops in March followed by a formal consultation later in the year. The guidance will come into effect on 1 January 2011.
Today the UK Committee on Climate Change reported that the Scottish target was "feasible but difficult" without a wider international agreement. Professor Jim Skea from the committee said: "A step change will be needed to unlock potential emissions reductions in Scotland, but we believe this to be achievable with new policies." He went on to say: "Given a new policy framework the opportunities are there for Scottish people and businesses to drive down emissions and build a low-carbon economy."
That is certainly right and as usual it will require the public sector to lead by example.