Environment and climate protection built into written constitution
16 June 2014
Reacting to publication of the draft Scottish Independence Bill, Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:
“This Bill proposes a written constitution which rules out nuclear weapons, and gives the highest possible legal status to protecting and enhancing the environment and acting on climate change. This goes beyond existing duties to protect nature and deliver on climate change targets. The proposal to enshrine the right to a clean environment in the constitution is a huge step forward. Any future government which proposed to trash the environment or ignore our climate obligations would find itself in court in short order.
“In the case of a yes vote, we will be one of many organisations taking part in the full consultative process to produce a final written constitution for Scotland but the interim proposals in this draft Bill are a great start on the environment. They will help keep Scotland on the straight and narrow during the process of becoming independent.
“A written constitution enshrining the importance of the environment is probably the single most powerful arguments in favour of a yes vote. Those opposed to the independence need to show us how they would deliver something as powerful if Scotland stays in the UK.”
On the environment the draft Bill proposes:
Every person is entitled to live in a healthy environment.
Accordingly, and in recognition of the importance of the environment to the people of Scotland, the Scottish Government and public authorities must, in carrying out their functions, seek to protect and enhance the quality of the environment.
In particular, they must seek to promote—
(a) the conservation of biodiversity,
(b) measures to tackle climate change.
On Natural resources the draft Bill says:
Scotland’s natural resources are to be used in a manner which is—
(a) best calculated to be sustainable, and
(b) of economic, social, environmental or other benefit to the people of Scotland.
On nuclear weapons the draft Bill says:
The Scottish Government must pursue negotiations with a view to securing—
(a) nuclear disarmament in accordance with international law, and
(b) the safe and expeditious removal from the territory of Scotland of nuclear weapons based there.
2. Friends of the Earth Scotland is neutral in the issue of independence and challenges both sides of the debate to show how they would deliver on climate targets, move Scotland to be a low-carbon economy and protect the environment.
3. Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland's leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 77 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups. www.foe-scotland.org.uk