Scotland commits £1.6bn for national green recovery
The Scottish Government has outlined a new £1.6bn spending framework that will form part of an enhanced New Deal for the country that will improve biodiversity, slash emissions from heating and buildings and support 5,000 low-carbon jobs.
The package will see Scotland invest in natural and technological solutions to help combat the climate crisis. It will see £1.6bn spent directly support up to 5,000 jobs and tackle fuel poverty as part of an enhanced Green New Deal.
Scotland is set to update its Climate Change Plan by the end of the year. The new spending will see an additional £500m spent on nature-based solutions in the country, including £150m to increase woodland creation by 50% by 2024 and another £150m on flood risk management.
Environment and Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “The coronavirus pandemic has been an unprecedented global crisis which has fundamentally changed every aspect of our lives. How we work, how we travel, how we use our land and other natural assets will all need to be re-imagined in order to build Scotland’s recovery and shape our future.
“This year’s Programme for Government makes clear that our commitment to tackling the twin challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss is unwavering. Indeed, they are central to our recovery. We will ensure our recovery is one that creates good quality, green jobs and ensures a fair and just transition to net-zero, leaving no-one behind.”
The funding will help reduce carbon emissions across heat and energy use in buildings, accountable for around 25% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Last September, Scottish MSPs voted 113 to 0 to back the introduction of a new Climate Bill, committing the nation to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2045 – five years ahead of the UK net-zero target.
The 2045 target was set following the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) recommendations for ensuring that the UK plays its part in ensuring that the global average temperature increase is limited to 1.5C.
However, the CCC (CCC) has urged Scottish Ministers to "begin work immediately" on implementing short-term net-zero legislation. Scotland has set an interim target of a 56% reduction in emissions – again, against 1990 levels – by 2020. But with national emissions having fallen just 3% in 2017, compared with 10% in 2016, the CCC is warning that the nation risks missing that shorter-term goal.
Commenting on the financing commitment, WWF Scotland’s Head of Policy, Fabrice Leveque, said: “It’s good to see the Scottish Government is prioritising a green economic recovery, with investment to cut emissions from heating and transport, move forward on tree planting and provide help for low-carbon businesses and skills. As well as new green jobs, these investments will help protect Scotland’s unique environment and give the people of Scotland warmer homes, cleaner air and encourage healthier lifestyles.
“Significant extra cash to make our homes greener is welcome, as is the First Minister’s commitment to eradicate climate emissions from our homes by 2040. This huge infrastructure challenge is a fantastic economic opportunity for Scotland, and the commitment to lay out the industrial strategy for this is a crucial first step to securing maximum economic benefit.”