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Case update 11 January 2024

Legal pressure forces Scottish Government to come clean on climate impacts

Islandstock / Alamy Stock Photo

Scottish Ministers were keeping details of the climate impact of their £26bn infrastructure plan under wraps. Now Good Law Project and the Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland have won a promise to publish them.

Faced with the prospect of legal action from the Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland (ERCS) and Good Law Project, the Scottish Government has confirmed it will publish a full assessment of its flagship infrastructure plan’s climate impact “as soon as possible”.

We wrote to Scottish Ministers in September 2023, arguing that their failure to publish an assessment of their £26bn Infrastructure Investment Plan was in breach of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. They quickly accepted they had fallen short and promised “urgent work” to fix the problem.

But when it emerged they were withholding details of the carbon emissions their plan is expected to produce, we wrote back to point out that this work wouldn’t be enough.

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Now Ministers have committed to comply with their duties “fully”, releasing a detailed assessment of whether their plan will live up to their pledge to reach net zero by 2045.

This assessment is now expected to be published in the week beginning the 15th January.

According to the Good Law Project Legal Director, Emma Dearnaley, it’s “encouraging” the Government has committed to publishing a proper climate impact assessment.

“We’re facing a climate emergency,” Dearnaley said, “so it’s crucial we can see whether or not the Scottish Government’s plan will impact our ability to reach net zero.

“If only the UK Government was prepared to follow Scotland’s lead and come to the table in the same way.”   

Winning this promise from Scottish Ministers is a significant development and should set an important precedent for transparency as Scotland tackles the climate emergency.

But we’re not going to stop here. We’ll be taking a close look at the assessment as soon as it’s published, to ensure it is up to scratch and fully complies with the Scottish Government’s legal duties. 

  • Good Law Project is tackling the sewage scandal, defending the rights of climate protestors and taking the Government to court over its inadequate net zero strategy. But we can only do this wider work to protect our environment and hold power to account with your help. Anything you can give to support our work will help us make positive change.