International development organisations challenge Scottish Government to ‘protect the world’s poorest people’ with a strong Climate Change Bill

An influential group of international development organisations has issued an urgent joint call for the Scottish Government to “protect the world’s poorest people” by ensuring climate justice plays a fundamental part in the forthcoming Climate Change Bill. 

The challenge, issued by organisations including Christian Aid Scotland, Oxfam Scotland, Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) and Tearfund Scotland, highlights the devastating impacts of extreme weather and famine which are currently wreaking havoc around the world.

In a joint submission to the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Bill consultation, which closes today, the agencies urge the First Minister to back up her pledge to tackle climate change with “significant policy and funding action”.

The submission calls on Ministers to protect Scotland’s position at the forefront of the global fight against climate change by cutting our emissions further and faster.

It says: “From Hurricanes Irma and Maria, to the deadly floods in South Asia, to the ongoing famine in East Africa, we’ve all seen the grim evidence that climate change is causing more extreme weather events and unpredictable seasons. And it’s hitting the world’s poorest people hardest.

“Climate change is an issue of justice with people in developing countries often most affected by climate change having done the least to cause it.

“Our agencies are supporting some of the world’s poorest women, men and children who find themselves on the front-line of climate change. Yet we know the impact is likely to get significantly worse unless rich countries like Scotland do much more to cut their emissions.

“Scotland can be proud of the efforts made to reduce our emissions so far but the truth is we’ve not done enough.

“We were therefore encouraged when the First Minister stated in her Programme for Government that Scotland has a ‘moral obligation to tackle climate change’. She is right, but these welcome words must now be backed up with significant policy and funding action to substantially reduce our emissions now and in the future.

“Scotland’s new Climate Change Bill is a chance to begin changing the future so it’s fairer for everyone.

“By putting in place a strong Bill, the Scottish Government can also send a powerful message to world leaders that Scotland rejects any back-sliding on global climate commitments. We must show the leadership needed to re-energise and re-focus global efforts to tackle climate change. Scottish Ministers must fully recognise the enormous human toll of climate change and grab this opportunity with both hands by ensuring their new Bill is both bold and ambitious, for the sake of us all.”

The agencies’ submission coincides with the end of the Scottish Government’s Climate Week.

The organisations highlight that climate change is making life harder for people like Dominga del Carmen Sotelo Vazquez, from Nicaragua. She told SCIAF: “Climate change is affecting us. Drought is a big issue; we have lost crops, and rivers have dried up. The water-table has dropped, meaning there is less water in the wells for us to use.

“I would like to ask the Scottish Government to support us. Humans aren’t thinking about what they are doing, they are wasting natural resources. Instead of destroying these resources we should be preserving them and investing in renewable energy.”

Currently, the Scottish Government is aiming for a 90% reduction in emissions by 2050 but the aid agencies are supporting Stop Climate Chaos Scotland’s call for a 77% reduction in the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest.

The organisations’ challenge echoes growing public concern about climate change among the Scottish public. Over 17,000 people have responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation, urging the Government to raise their ambition in tackling climate change. On Wednesday, on behalf of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, children from Sciennes Primary in Edinburgh presented over hundreds of messages from people across Scotland to the Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change Roseanna Cunningham.

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For more information please contact Rebecca Lozza, Media and Communications Officer, Oxfam Scotland, on 0141 285 8875 / 07880785159 or

Notes to Editors:

  • A full version of the organisations’ submission is available on request. The consultation response was submitted by Christian Aid Scotland, Oxfam Scotland, Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) and Tearfund Scotland (all members of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland) and 5 other members of Scotland’s International Development Alliance.
  • Photos of Sciennes Primary presenting the messages to Roseanna Cunningham are available for download here:
  • Earlier this summer, polling for WWF Scotland showed a growing number of people in Scotland supported stronger action to tackle climate change.