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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 January, 2005, 14:38 GMT
MSPs search for climate answers
Winter storms
Severe weather has hit Scotland over the winter
The Scottish Parliament's environment committee has begun an inquiry into the impact of climate change.

Business and environmental experts are discussing with MSPs ways in which Scotland can cut its greenhouse gas emissions.

Ideas include renewable energy, cutting traffic, expanding nuclear capacity and capturing carbon dioxide before it leaves the power stations.

The move comes in the wake of serious storms and flooding in Scotland.

'Historic opportunity'

Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell, vice-convener of the committee, said the inquiry was a "historic opportunity to initiate serious and crucial action to help protect Scotland's economy, and communities, from the impacts of climate change".

"Greens have pushed for this inquiry into executive policy since the beginning of this parliamentary session and today's meeting was a positive start to what I hope will be an extremely rigorous investigation," he said.

"It is fitting that we have representatives from across society - business leaders, NGOs, public organisations, scientists - as this issue will impact on every aspect of our society, economy and environment."

Emission targets

Environmental organisations like Friends of the Earth Scotland and WWF Scotland are calling for an end to road building projects and for separate Scottish targets on greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr Richard Dixon, head of policy for WWF Scotland, highlighted the plight of areas which had been hit by flooding in Elgin over the years.

He said: "There are businesses operating in Elgin today which have no insurance because they have already been flooded and either cannot afford to or cannot get insurance."

Professor Brian Hoskins
We're turning up the radiator and we don't know what the effect will be
Professor Brian Hoskins

"So there are people whose livelihoods today will disappear the next time there's a flood in Elgin."

The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP), an independent advisory body to the UK Government, has suggested a target of a 60% cut by 2050.

The organisation's Professor Brian Hoskins told MSPs: "It's as warm as it's ever been in the last million years and we're turning up the radiator and we don't know what the effect will be."

The energy firm, Scottish Power, says it cut its emissions by 2% last year.

Scottish Enterprise is promoting new business opportunities in renewable energy, carbon trading, carbon fixing and afforestation.

MSPs will have to decide how many of the proposals put before them are realistic, both technically and politically.

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