Roseanna Cunningham is the Scottish Government's new Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform. In an exclusive piece for Christian Aid Scotland, she shares her vision for Scotland's approach to climate change over the coming years.
The historic Paris Agreement of 2015 aims to provide certainty about the low carbon future for the global economy.
The Paris Agreement is a big step forward for all of us who support strong action on climate change - campaigners like Christian Aid who are working hard to avoid the impacts of climate change falling on the poor and vulnerable across the world.
Scotland has been determined to play a leading part in global action. As the new Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change, I was delighted to announce that Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions had fallen by 45% between 1990 and 2014, exceeding the level of our 2020 target six years early.
‘We may be a small nation in size but we're a leading player on the global stage when it comes to climate change.'
However, we know that more needs to be done and global ambition needs to be stepped up. So the First Minister, who represented Scotland at the Paris conference, has further committed to set a new, more testing target for 2020: to reduce actual Scottish emissions by at least 50%.
We may be a small nation in size but we're a leading player on the global stage when it comes to climate change.
As well as dealing with emissions at home, it is imperative for developed countries to work in partnership with developing countries and help them tackle poverty and grow their economies sustainably.
The First Minister has committed to adopt the UN's Sustainable Development Goals – one of the first countries to do so.
Scotland is also continuing to lead the way in championing climate justice with a simple and powerful message: that the poor and vulnerable at home and overseas are the first to be affected by climate change, and will suffer most, yet have done little or nothing to cause the problem.
The negative impacts of climate change are particularly noticeable amongst those who are already vulnerable because of gender, age, disability, poverty and geography.
Our initial £6 million investment through our innovative Climate Justice Fund (which, we believe, is the only fund in the world operating on climate justice principles) supported 11 water adaptation projects, including Christian Aid Scotland's work on food and water security in Malawi, plus other projects in Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda and Zambia.
We have pledged a further £15 million spread over the next 5 years with £2 million Hydro Nation funding already awarded to Malawi.
Photo credit: Christian Aid/Nicky Milne
To date the Climate Justice Fund has made a difference to the day-to-day lives of many people in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Malawi alone, investment in projects between 2012 and 2015 has resulted in:
- 33,227 people having access to clean, safe water
- 6,309 people having improved water resource management skills
- 4,255 people using new irrigation techniques and conservation agriculture practices
- 26,953 people trained in climate change adaptation or mitigation, or have increased awareness of climate change issues
- 266,000 trees planted to support water catchments
- 1,700 people using fuel efficient stoves
These are significant achievements, which would not have been possible without the dedication of NGOs like Christian Aid Scotland, whose Climate Justice Fund project in the Nsanje district of Malawi will increase water supply and food security for 1,500 households through the innovative use of solar irrigation systems.
Together we can and will continue to make a difference.
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