What is the climate deal?
Scotland’s government has signed a deal with the European Union, meaning it will be responsible for cutting its greenhouse gas emissions to 35% of 1990 levels by 2030.
The deal, which follows on from an agreement earlier this month with France, does not apply to Scotland’s central government but its 114 local authorities can act independently if they wish.
Permission for the deal was granted by the Scottish parliament in the face of fierce opposition from all political parties. A number of nationalist groups pointed out that the agreement would only be extended if another EU country joined the pact, or if there was a breakdown in the rest of the EU.
Before the vote Scotland’s environment minister, Roseanna Cunningham, said the pact was “in Scotland’s interest because it is in the common good”, because it would lead to cleaner air and water, and because it would create new jobs in a green sector.
The pact comes at a sensitive time for Scotland, which has sought to position itself as a more independent and self-governing country. Scottish nationalists say the EU deal shows that it is in line with Europe, despite the vote to leave the bloc that secured the election of Theresa May’s Conservative government.
What does it mean for Canada?
Canada’s government has said it will respect the directive, but that other countries need to make their own commitments if they want to be fully in line with the terms of the new EU deal.
Opinion polls show the Canadian government has enough support to get the climate change bill to a vote, but an opposition party, the New Democratic party, has refused to support it. The bill will need to clear all 105 seats in the House of Commons, where the ruling party has majority support.
How will the agreement affect Canada?
It could be more difficult for Canada to make its own cuts to emissions under its own federal system, where each province has the freedom to set its own energy and climate policies.
Many of Canada’s provinces and territories, which were still being merged when Canada won independence from Britain in 1960, are far more conservative on these issues than Ottawa.
The province of Alberta, which has vast reserves of oil and gas, has been the country’s biggest single polluter for decades, with emissions rising since oil and gas prices collapsed a decade ago.
The municipal health authority in Edmonton says emissions in the Alberta capital rose 60% between 1990 and 2016. The Greater Vancouver Area produces the same emissions as France.
While Alberta’s government has made some small improvements, a report last year by the Pembina Institute found that overall its contribution to global emissions was only moving in the right direction. The provincial government has vowed to set its own 2030 target.
What does the agreement mean for other countries?
The EU needs to unite fully behind the deal in order to work on other international climate change agreements, including a treaty intended to cut emissions by up to 45% by 2030. It’s not clear if a whole new bloc of countries would need to sign up, because the plans would only apply to the 28 EU states.
Leaders of developing countries have made clear they don’t want the EU agreeing only to the EU, and they will want all countries to sign up. The US, in particular, has expressed support for the directive.
What does the EU do next?
The EU has until mid-April to take a decision on whether to fully adopt the terms of the deal. If that happens, Scotland will be granted a package of political support from EU member states, which will also apply to all the other countries that are signatories. But it will not get any new money to help it meet the targets, nor would it be permitted to award itself funding for climate change initiatives.