By Stephen Boyle, Auditor General for Scotland
Tackling climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face – and public audit has a clear role to play.
Experts have warned that urgent and decisive action is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonise how we live and work. We also need to minimise the harm climate change is already causing by investing in adaptations like flood prevention and coastal defenses.
Scotland has one of the most ambitious and challenging emission targets – to become net zero by 2045. It wants to get three quarters of the way towards net zero within the next 8 years. That will mean big changes to everyone’s lives – the cars we drive, the food we eat, the ways we heat our homes and the holidays we take.
The Scottish Government has also made it clear it wants an economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic that is achieved in an environmentally sound and sustainable way, with benefits for all of society. This will not be easy.
Tough decisions face the public, private and third sectors. Leadership, joint working, and coordinated action will be essential. And care will be needed to ensure changes for a greener future don’t impact negatively on some communities more than others. We all have a role to play, including Audit Scotland. Our unique role as auditor of the public sector means we are in a privileged position to:
This is obviously a huge task, and not one we are going to crack overnight or on our own. But we are committed to developing our approach and integrating climate change into our audit work. Our work here is developing and we are keeping under review how and where we can best add value to the efforts that everyone must make.