The UK and Scottish Governments are not good enough at collaborating on tackling climate change, a committee of MSPs has heard.
Chris Stark, the chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), said there should be a mechanism allowing Westminster and Holyrood to discuss policies that will affect the ability of each to hit net-zero targets.
The committee is an independent body set up as a result of the 2008 Climate Change Act to advise the Governments of the UK on the best way to fight global warming.
Due to the separation of powers in the devolution settlement, each Government is reliant on the other to enact policies that will help bring greenhouse gases down to net-zero – by 2045 in Scotland and 2050 in the rest of the UK.
Asked by the convener of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee Gillian Martin about the crossover between two administrations, Mr Stark was frank.
He said: “Both Governments are crap at this. I think this is something that we have to be better at all round.
“It should not be the case that only the CCC takes an integrated view of the challenges across the UK, and yet it is.
“There is no basis for the Scottish Government to raise legitimate concerns with the UK Government on what’s happening at Westminster level and some of the matters that will help to achieve the Scottish targets, and vice versa.”
He added: “We’re hosting the world’s climate summit this year and I can tell you know that the climate doesn’t give a monkey’s about these constitutional and institutional boundaries.
“We have to be better at discussing this and we have to have a place to do that – whether its a clearing house or a discussion point where there is a real discussion about the strategy overall. That doesn’t happen.”
While he accepted there were some mechanisms for conversation between the two Governments, Mr Stark said these were not the places for the discussion of long-term climate targets.
He added: “There aren’t the strong links between departments in Whitehall and the Scottish Government that used to be there ten years ago.
“That needs to be reconstituted.”
The former director of Energy and Climate Change in the Scottish Government said when he took up his current post he enjoyed a much better relationship with Whitehall than he had previously, something he insists “shouldn’t be like that”.
He added: “That needs fundamental attention and we have to get past it because it’s going to become a real barrier.
“We need to very, very rapidly have a proper place where we can set aside these political disagreements, which are all valid of course, and get into the nitty-gritty about how you’re going to deliver a strategy over the next three decades which gets the UK as a whole to net zero and gets Scotland there by 2045.
“Time is running out for that.”