A diverse range of community groups, trade unions, churches, charities and businesses representing over a million members are calling on the Scottish Government to introduce a world-leading tax on greenhouse gas emissions on landholdings over one thousand hectares.
The STUC, the Scottish Community Alliance, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, the Wellbeing Economy Alliance, and the Quakers are among the groups calling for the Scottish Government to agree the principle of a new Carbon Emissions Land Tax.
Initiated by the John Muir Trust, which owns and manages some of Scotland’s most famous mountain landscapes, the tax proposal is designed as a lever to drive urgent changes in land use to support climate targets. To comply with devolved powers, the proposed new tax would be collected by local authorities, generating tens of millions of pounds of additional funding for local services in rural areas.
Mike Daniels, Head of Policy for the John Muir Trust, said: “Scotland has an abundance of low productivity land that is failing to pull its weight in the drive to Net Zero. Millions of hectares consist of degraded peatlands and bare, overgrazed uplands that are emitting greenhouse gases when they should be sequestering CO2 on a colossal scale.”
“The Carbon Emissions Land Tax we are proposing is based on the polluters pay principle. Incentives are available to landowners for woodland creation and peatland restoration, but the slow pace of change shows that we need sticks as well as carrots.”
“The John Muir Trust has conducted serious research – including discussions with scientists, economists,
tax and experts – to show how this could work in practice. We are flexible, however, about the detail, and are seeking support at this stage around the general principle.”
Roz Foyer, the General Secretary of the STUC said: “Scotland has the most concentrated pattern of land ownership in the developed world. The STUC has a long history of campaigning for land reform, and in recent years has campaigned for a Just Transition that tackles climate change while creating jobs and reducing inequality.”
“If we are to have a genuinely Just Transition for Scotland’s land tax and regulation will be crucial. The John Muir Trust’s Carbon Emissions Land Tax proposal could help raise much needed revenue for local Councils while simultaneously reducing emissions from Scotland’s land.”
Mike Robinson, Chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland said: “Scotland has missed eight emission reduction targets out of the last twelve, and agriculture and land use is now the second highest emitting sector. If we are to have a chance of meeting our crucial 2030 climate targets it’s vital that we use our tax and spending powers to make the biggest polluters pay, driving behaviour change and raising much needed additional funds to reduce emissions.”
“Stop Climate Chaos Scotland urges the Scottish Government to rapidly explore all available levers, including a carbon emission land tax, and deliver a Just Transition to a low carbon, fairer society as quickly as possible.”
The John Muir Trust has now launched a 100-day campaign, including a public petition in support of the tax. You can add your signature here.
Borders Forest Trust
Bumblebee Conservation Trust
Colonsay Community Development Company
Environmental Rights Centre Scotland
Global Justice Now
Highlands Rewilding Limited
Humanist Society Scotland
North East Mountain Trust
Propagate Scotland CIC
Quakers in Scotland
Raptor Persecution UK
Scotland’s Regeneration Forum
Scottish Community Alliance
Scottish Community Development Centre
Scottish Land Revenue Group
Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC)
Scottish Ecological Design Association (SEDA)
Stop Climate Chaos Scotland
The Vegan Society
Wellbeing Economy Alliance