Dr Aileen McLeod, SNP Member of the European Parliament Environment Committee and former Scottish Government Climate Change Minister, has praised the new Finnish Presidency of the EU for placing Climate Change at the heart of Europe.
In Aileen’s maiden speech to the European Parliament, available to view here, she emphasised that Finland has Scotland’s support in pushing for more ambitious climate measures and targets. Finland is taking over the six month presidency of the EU from Romania. In their Presidency programme they have promised to integrate “climate policy in all sectors” to ensure that the EU leads the world in tackling climate change.
“It was a pleasure to give my first speech to the Parliament on such an important issue. Climate Change is the key challenge we face and the Scottish Government was right to declare a climate emergency.
“It is good to see the EU driving forward a continent-wide response. Both Ursala von der Leyen the new Commission President, and Finland who hold the presidency of the EU have committed to place this challenge at the heart of everything we do.
“I confess this is tinged with sadness and I have great sympathy for the Finns who have emphasised that Brexit cannot overshadow their Presidency. For Scotland, the threat of a Brexit that the Scottish people have repeatedly rejected jeopardises our ability to work with our European friends. Only by stopping Brexit can we move forward and get on with what needs to be done.”
The full text of Aileen's speech is as follows:
"As a newly elected MEP for Scotland I want to congratulate Prime Minister Rinne for putting climate change at the core of Finland’s Presidency programme.
"Given the scale of the climate emergency we face, I hope Finland will push for more ambitious EU climate change measures and targets.
"You have Scotland’s support in doing so.
"Despite Brexit, Scotland will continue to play its part in safeguarding our planet for future generations. Scotland is a world leader in tackling climate change, and we are presently legislating for zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the latest, and for our economy to be carbon neutral by 2040.
"As Scotland’s former Climate Change Minister who also represented Scotland at the Paris talks, I know we are stronger and more effective by working together for a more sustainable Europe.
"Mr President, Prime Minister, colleagues: Scotland is committed to remaining inside the European Union, working with you in tackling the pressing challenges we face.
"With that, I wish Finland all the best for a very successful Presidency."
The programme for the Finnish Presidency can be found here: