Scottish and Welsh ministers call for ‘urgent’ four nations climate summit


THE Scottish and Welsh Governments have written to the UK Government calling for an ‘urgent’ four nations climate summit, after expressing their ‘disappointment’ at Westminster changing course on key net zero commitments.

Co-signed by Scotland’s net zero secretary, Mairi McAllan, and Wales minister for climate change, Julie James, the letter follows PM Rishi Sunak’s speech on climate change last week.

The ‘weakness’ of current arrangements for working with the devolved nations is highlighted in the letter, as well as a call for greater UK collaboration in agreeing the pathway towards the UK’s legally-binding net zero targets.

The two governments propose that the four nations summit be chaired by the independent Climate Change Committee, which acts as a statutory adviser to all four nations.

The full text of the letter to Michael Gove, the secretary of state for levelling up, housing, and communities and minister for intergovernmental relations is as follows:

Dear Michael,

This is a joint letter from myself and Julie James, minister for climate change, Welsh Government.

We write to highlight our disappointment in relation to the Prime Minister’s statement last week (20 September) announcing that the UK Government is significantly changing course on key net zero commitments.

Despite the far-reaching implications of the announcements made – with substantial changes in policy that will impact progress in delivering net zero and have profoundly negative implications for the environment and economy across the UK and further affect the UK’s international reputation – there was no prior engagement with the devolved governments. Given that delivery of the climate ambitions of the four nations of the UK are intrinsically linked, this is deeply unsatisfactory.

In addition, almost a week later, it is hugely frustrating that the UK Government has not provided the level of detail required by such significant announcements. We would urge you to provide this immediately to enable devolved governments to fully assess the implications.

Regarding Scotland, the Scottish Government will separately be writing to the UK Government shortly, in more detail, setting out areas in which progress urgently needs to be clarified. Regarding Wales, the Welsh Government has also separately written to the UK Government, seeking further clarity on the impacts of the recent policy changes on Wales.

Tackling the twin crises of climate change and nature loss is one of the most significant challenges facing people and planet this century and all nations of the UK must work in partnership to complete the net zero journey. Delivering progress on net zero requires urgent action and higher ambition from the UK Government on issues reserved to Westminster to complement the action taken under devolved powers. The Climate Change Committee has been clear that action by the UK Government is important for delivery of climate change targets around the UK, just as action in Scotland and Wales is crucial to UK targets.

Since last week’s process shows the weakness of current arrangements, we are now urging you to establish a new, mutually respectful partnership, with the aim of developing an agreed four nation approach to net zero in a collaborative manner. We therefore invite you to commit, in the first instance, to a high-level summit for a four nation approach and to agree with us that our statutory advisers, the independent Climate Change Committee, be invited to chair the summit.

We are also copying in Katrina Godfrey, permanent secretary at the Northern Ireland department of agriculture, environment, and rural affairs and the secretary of state at the department for energy security and net zero.

Yours sincerely,

Julie James, Mairi McAllan