Scottish government unveils swathe of green initiatives
The Scottish government has pledged to ensure that, by 2024, all new homes must use renewable or low-carbon heat.
The commitment is included in an outline of the ruling SNP’s legislative programme for the year, entitled Protecting Scotland’s future.
The manifesto is wide-ranging but has a strong focus on efforts to tackle climate change, putting the transition to net-zero emissions at the heart of the Scottish National Investment Bank’s work.
There will also be a £17m fund to support the demand for ultra-low emission vehicles and an expansion of the Low Carbon Transport Loan Scheme to include electric vehicles.
The Scottish government said it would seek to unlock additional resources for emissions-reducing investment through a Green Growth Accelerator combining public and private investment to transform cities and regions and would bring forward a £3 billion portfolio of projects, including renewables, waste and construction, ready for green finance investment.
First minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “In April this year, I acknowledged that we faced a climate emergency.
"Over this summer, the evidence of that has been clear – we have seen the kind of extreme weather events across Europe that will become more and more common if we fail to rise to this global challenge. The consequences of global climate change will be severe. While in some parts of the world its effects are existential, we will also feel the impact here at home. We must act.
“This Programme for Government sets out some of the next steps on Scotland’s journey to net-zero emissions and raises our ambition in light of the emergency we face. We are leading the world in setting challenging targets, but we must also redouble our efforts to meet them.
“Tackling climate change also creates opportunities. We can lead the way in showing how our society and economy can transition to net zero in a way that creates economic opportunity and provides the assurance of rewarding work for all.”
The legislative programme also includes pledges to:
- Achieve zero emissions from Highland and Islands Airports Limited’s operations, with trials set to begin on low or zero-emission flights in 2021.
- Reduce emissions from Scotland’s railways to zero by 2035 through the continued electrification of the network, the procurement of battery-powered trains and exploration of the potential of hydrogen-powered trains in Scotland.
- support Scotland’s people to gain the skills they need to carry out this work through a Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan.
The commitment to ensuring all new homes use renewable or low-carbon heat will be achieved through a “fundamental overhaul” in building regulations that will increase energy efficiency and the efficiency of construction from 2021, and will be accompanied by a £30 million investment in renewable heat projects.
Lord Deben, the chair of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), said: “We strongly welcome the bold package of measures set out today.
"Transport is the most polluting sector of the Scottish economy, so it’s good to see plans to clean up Scotland’s rail network by 2035 and investment in buses and an ultra-low emission public fleet, as well as last week’s announcement of further funding to improve charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. Scotland’s buildings are some of the least energy efficient in Europe: we commend plans to consult on new building standards, steps to heat buildings using low-carbon sources of energy, and a commitment to make new public buildings carbon-neutral.
“There’s more to do. Scotland needs to build on the record rate of tree planting seen in 2018 and deliver a credible plan to tackle emissions from agriculture, amongst other things. That said, this Programme for Government shows Scotland is serious about its commitment to tackling climate change and aware of the associated benefits for the planet, the Scottish people, and the economy.”
Morag Watson, director of policy at Scottish Renewables, also welcomed the announcement, adding: “The next year is likely to be a politically and economically challenging one for Scotland’s renewable energy sector. The Scottish Government’s commitment to tackling the climate emergency and delivering a Green New Deal for Scotland comes as a welcome boost to the 17,700 people who work in Scotland’s renewable energy industry, and the many more who could if Scotland fulfilled its renewables potential.
“The measures outlined in the Programme for Government aimed at supporting Scotland’s renewable electricity sector are welcome, but Scotland’s renewable energy industry will only be able to rise to the challenge if government regulation and support is consistent with the needs of the climate emergency.”
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