Headline Act: Scotland's environment. Must add your support before 11 May.

Headline Act: Scotland's environment. Must add your support before 11 May.

Nature is ourpriority. That seems to be the dominant narrative. Making history in March, we hadmore than a million children striking from school to demand urgent, radical governmentaction for climate change. Within just a few weeks of further protests,including by Extinction Rebellion, the headlines of today announce the response– the UK government is the first national government to declare an environmentand climate emergency. Environment Secretary, Michael Gove called for urgentactions including a green industrial revolution and changes to transport andagriculture. First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon on 28 April said, “Scotlandwill live up to our responsibility to tackle [climate change]. We are already aworld leader and our new legislation commits us to being carbon neutral by2050. It contains some of the toughest targets in the world.” She added, “Scotlandwill lead by example.”

The Scottish Government are right now in the final twodays of public consultation on environmental principles and governance inScotland, and many people have already responded, calling for betterprotections. Thirty-five environmental charities from across Scotland, known collectivelyas Scottish Environment LINK, welcome this consultation opportunity and havecome together to ‘Fight forScotland’s Nature’. The aim is to gather support for a Scottish EnvironmentAct which would protect and enhance our globally important wildlife andenvironments for now and the future. Such an Act could set clear ambitions forenvironmental policy, including embedding vital existing EU environmentalprotections and help us grow towards a more sustainable future. The Fight forScotland’s Nature website notes, “it is pushing for clear environmental targetssupported by long-term actions and funding to mitigate climate change, createrobust ecosystems and ensure sustainable use of our natural resources that isgood for us and our land and seas”. It is hailed as a ‘huge opportunity to makea difference and better protect Scotland’s natural world’. Though a small countryby comparison, Scotland stores 25 times more carbon in its peatlands than inall the vegetation in the UK. Scotland’s peatlands are also some 5 % of theworld’s total. Further, the country is home to 29 % of Europe’s seals, biodiversecoral reefs believed to be around 4,000 years old, and globally iconic andimportant species, populations and habitats like Scottish wildcats, freshwaterpearl mussels and ancient native woodland.

Earlier this week, the earth-shakingpublic report from IPBES which represents the authoritative science, knowledgeand policy options to decision makers, reveals that species extinction ratesare increasing, the current global response is insufficient, and that ‘transformativechanges’ are needed to restore and protect nature. Joyce Msuya, Acting Head forUN Environment says there is a “critical need to integrate biodiversityconsiderations in global decision-making on any sector or challenge, whether it’swater or agriculture, infrastructure or business.” Globally, the new reporttells us that there are today one million species threatened with extinction.In Scotland, we know that this is true for 1 in 11 species, which are currentlyat this risk. Deborah Long, chief officer of Scottish Environment LINK, said, “We’refacing a profound ecological crisis, and we need to take action fast.” Shecontinued, “A strong Scottish Environment Act would allow Scotland to retainand build on the protections we have at present, and to take action tosafeguard the unique wildlife and landscapes for which the country is famous.” Joyce McMillan, Presidentof Scottish Environment LINK, added, “Every one of us musttherefore send a clear message to the Scottish Government and the FirstMinister that the need to protect our environment is not an option, but anabsolute necessity for a healthy and sustainable future for Scotland and itspeople. I urge everyone to sign our petition, and jointhe fight for Scotland’s nature.” You can tell the Scottish Government that weneed a Scottish Environment Act at https://www.fightforscotlandsnature.scot/e-action/and search #FightForScotlandsNature on social media. The consultation closes onSaturday 11 May.

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