Rural and Environment
Devolved powers under threat
UK Government fails to back Post-Brexit climate change legislation.
Powers to decarbonise 28% of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions are being put at risk by the UK Government’s refusal to commit to a post-Brexit plan agreed by all four UK administrations in the summer, Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has warned.
The Cabinet Secretary wrote to the Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth Kwasi Kwarteng and the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Kemi Badenoch last month calling for the UK Government to commit, by the end of November, to a UK Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) common framework, developed jointly by the four administrations over the last four years.
This would create a scheme to encourage industry and power sectors to reduce carbon emissions similar to the current European Union ETS. However the UK Government has failed to meet that commitment.
With less than four weeks until the end of the Transition period, the UK Government has yet to rule out implementing an alternative to the ETS – a reserved Carbon Emissions Tax (CET), over which devolved administrations and legislatures would have no say.
Ms Cunningham said:
“The UK Government is already threatening devolution with its damaging Internal Market Bill. Any move to unilaterally, and at the eleventh hour, impose a reserved Carbon Emissions Tax (CET) in place of the agreed framework would further undermine devolution and threaten climate progress.
“Our ability to use devolved powers to reduce over a quarter of Scotland’s emissions is at stake and, considering we have legal targets to decarbonise 75% by 2030, this is very significant. Indeed, I am aware that the Scottish Parliament has written to the UK Government to voice their concerns at the loss of direct scrutiny a CET would cause, and seek urgent clarity on their intentions.
“A UK Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is the most effective tool currently available to reach our common goals of decarbonising the industry and energy sectors and achieving our statutory net zero targets. It would also demonstrate our commitment to international climate action in the year when COP 26 will be held in Glasgow.
“It is lamentable that the UK Government continues to prevaricate between an option which is agreed between the four nations and one which undermines devolution and risks climate progress.
“The UK must urgently clarify its position and back a UK ETS to avoid further – and even more damaging – disruption to Scotland’s plans to end our contribution to climate change.”
The UK Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is designed to maintain a carbon pricing regime for energy intensive industry and the power sector to replace the European Union ETS. It has a long term emissions reduction trajectory that contributes to our statutory targets and provides clear signals to stakeholders – this may not be the case in a Carbon Emissions Tax (CET).