Malcolm indicating that the cumulative amount of carbon emissions is critical
Climate change: Edinburgh, Leith and Earth Hour 2009 Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab):
I congratulate Shirley-Anne Somerville on securing this important debate. She and I are co-conveners of the cross-party group on climate change. Like her, I warmly endorse this Saturday's important initiative.

As an Edinburgh MSP, I am pleased that so many buildings in this city will be shrouded in darkness at 8.30 on Saturday evening. I congratulate City of Edinburgh Council and the many businesses and schools in my constituency that have signed up for earth hour. I will not restate all the buildings that Shirley-Anne Somerville mentioned, but I will mention that three schools in my constituency - Broughton primary school, Leith primary school and Stockbridge primary school - are taking part in the initiative in a slightly different way by spending an hour for the earth this week in learning about climate change. The schools are also encouraging pupils to take part at home during the event itself.

In this crucial year for climate change, earth hour will be an important symbolic moment but it could also have a significant effect. We all know that the radical action that is required on climate change needs commitment both by Government and by individuals and local communities. Earth hour will not only indicate the commitment of thousands of people to action on climate change, but encourage others who are not so committed to think about the issue. The fact of the matter is that we still have a great deal to do to get the climate change message across. The Scottish Government, like the Government in London, is showing leadership on that, but we clearly need individuals to respond in their own lives as well. I hope and believe that this Saturday's initiative will help to galvanise people to take action this year and in the years that follow.

Clearly, this is a crucial year for climate change both in Scotland, given the Climate Change (Scotland) Bill that has been introduced, and internationally, given the Copenhagen meeting that will take place towards the end of the year. We need to ensure that this year is an important turning point for this country and for the world in recognising the scale of the action that is required.

This evening is not the time for a detailed discussion of the Climate Change (Scotland) Bill, which we all look forward to considering in the months ahead. Like other members, I have followed the bill's committee process, which has been very good and has involved a lot of evidence taking. In reading the oral evidence that the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change gave to the committee, I was encouraged to see that he is open-minded about strengthening the bill. I believe - I will make this one point - that it is particularly important that the bill is strengthened in terms that provide for more ambitious targets over the next 10 years.

We all know that the cumulative amount of emissions is what matters. If we do not begin to take radical action now, total emissions will obviously be far worse come 2020 and the following decades. We have all committed ourselves over the next few months to considering the bill, which is possibly the most important piece of legislation that we will deal with in the current parliamentary session.

I hope that this Saturday's initiative will not only help to galvanise us MSPs but encourage the population to take action to support the measures that the Government is taking and, indeed, to demand stronger action from the Scottish and UK Governments. I congratulate the organisers of earth hour, which I am sure will be of great international significance. I hope that we can all build on the event to make 2009 a critical and defining year in the battle against climate change.
March 26th 2009, (Column 16338-40)