Ben Macpherson: Climate change

Posted by in November's Magazine

MSP for Edinburgh North and Leith

While Westminster is in a Brexit storm and static jam, Holyrood is striding forward to tackle climate change and ban pavement parking. 

At a time when Westminster has been mired in Brexit paralysis, the Scottish Parliament has been getting on with making a positive difference. Over recent months we’ve been working efficiently and effectively, passing pioneering legislation in a number of key areas.



For example, the Transport (Scotland) Bill that was passed through the Parliament on 9th October 2019 has implications both large and small. I was very pleased to pass the Bill because I could immediately see the positive benefits it will bring to our everyday environment here in Leith – and the streets that you and I walk down every day. 

Spot the photo bomber…

It will help transform this area into a cleaner and healthier place to travel through and enjoy, as this new law enables Local Authorities, like the City of Edinburgh Council, to introduce low-emission zones that will improve air quality and public health; to manage roadworks more effectively; to implement measures to reduce car use and support public transport; and, importantly in Leith, to enforce a strong ban on pavement parking. 

I know that improving our air quality is recognised by many constituents as something that will positively impact on everyday life. That’s because, though air pollution in Scotland has reduced over recent years, air quality remains an issue in a number of streets in Leith, such as Salamander Street. Low Emission Zones (LEZs) will help to protect our health and help us meet our legal limits on air quality. The Bill enables the creation of, and civil enforcement of, LEZs and sets certain national standards. 

Traffic jams caused by road works add to pollution. That’s why the Bill will help to create a regulatory environment that encourages an approach to getting roadwork reinstatements right first time. This means that we should get better information about roadworks, and will help ensure a consistent approach to safety at roadwork sites regardless of who is carrying them out. 

From conversations with constituents about climate change, most Leithers agree that we have a moral duty to future generations to tackle climate change now

While road works are necessary to keep roads, and the utilities that run under them, safe and in good repair, it is important they are managed and carried out well. The new measures in the Transport Bill will help to increase the efficiency of roadworks, which I know will be very welcome in Leith!

The Bill will also introduce a national ban on pavement and double-parking, to make it easier for Edinburgh Council to ensure that our pavements and roads are safer and more accessible to all. In Leith we are all aware of how inconsiderate, obstructive and dangerous pavement parking can be. That’s why I was so glad to vote for the parking prohibitions in the Bill. 

They are aimed at promoting, supporting and advancing the rights of pedestrians to ensure that our pavements and roads are accessible for all. How often have you seen a parent pushing a buggy, or someone who has trouble walking, put themselves in possible danger on the road because the pavement is blocked by a parked car? Now Edinburgh Council will have robust powers to enforce new restrictions and keep pavements free for people.

The Transport Bill as a whole creates many new measures to help Scotland transition to having a greener transport system, improving our air quality and reducing our climate emissions. This commitment to a more responsible attitude to our climate was also highlighted by another significant piece of legislation, which I recently helped pass. 

I was very pleased to vote in favour of the world-leading Climate Change Bill, meaning that Scotland will now have the most ambitious statutory targets in the world. I am proud to say that Scotland’s contribution to climate change will end, definitively, within a generation. 

The landmark legislation commits Scotland to becoming a net-zero society by 2045 – five years before the rest of the UK and in line with the advice from the expert-led UK Committee on Climate Change. 

The Scottish Government has also adopted an ambitious new interim target to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030 – the toughest statutory target of any country in the world. This means that Scotland is rightly recognised as a world-leader in tackling climate change. 

Scotland was one of the first countries to declare a climate emergency, and the SNP is now leading by example by committing to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. 

From the many conversations I’ve had with constituents in recent years about climate change, I know most Leithers agree that we have a moral duty to future generations to tackle climate change now. That’s why the Scottish Government has acted and acted boldly.

At a time when British politics feels broken and inward-looking, here in Scotland we are firmly connected to what politics should be about – improving people’s lives, taking care of our environment and striving to build a better future for all. ν

Twitter: @BenMacpherson

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