Scotland and California agree joint climate change deal

Scotland has signed a joint agreement to tackle climate change with the US State of California, in the same week that new figures have highlighted a record month for Scottish wind power generation.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon reached a deal with Governor of California Edmund G Brown in Sacramento yesterday (3 April) to share best-practice in developing offshore wind.

The pair also met to discuss how the two administrations can work together to achieve the goals set by the Under2 Coalition, a commitment by sub-national governments to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions toward net-zero by 2050. 

“Scotland is making huge progress in delivering our climate change ambitions, but we are not complacent and there is still much to achieve,” Sturgeon said. “Today’s meeting strengthened our relationship with the Government of California and I’m confident we can work together to achieve the targets set out by the Under2 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

“We have also offered to help the Under2 Coalition, representing over one billion people, to prepare for a major summit in 2018 which will bring together the public and private sectors, alongside NGOs, to build support and action aimed at persuading national governments to increase their efforts to tackle climate change, in what will be an important year for taking stock against progress of the Paris Agreement.”

Unstoppable transition

The agreement will be seen as the Scottish and Californian administrations taking a symbolic stand against Donald Trump’s anti-climate policies, which include last week’s executive order aimed at eliminating former President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. Trump has been embroiled in a long-running legal battle surrounding the construction of a wind farm near his golf resort in Aberdeen.

Commenting on the Scotland-California deal, WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “The global transition to low-carbon future is already underway and it’s unstoppable. The real issue is how quickly we will get there, not whether we will get there. That’s why it’s fantastic to see the First Minister in the US seeking to work with others prepared to stand up for people and nature threatened by global climate change.

“Scotland has a very positive story to share globally about how it has successfully created thousands of jobs and reduced carbon emissions from its power sector through the use of renewables.”

The news comes as fresh data reveals that Scottish wind turbines set a new March record for the total amount of power sent to the National Grid since records began. Wind power provided 1,240,095MWh of electricity to the Grid, enough to supply, on average, the electrical needs of 136% of Scottish households. This represents an increase of 81% compared to that of March 2016.

Wind power will play a crucial role in reaching the goals set in Scotland’s recently published draft Energy Strategy, which included a new target to deliver 50% of Scotland’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2030.

“As well as helping to power our homes and businesses, wind power supports thousands of jobs and continues to play an important role in Scotland’s efforts to address global climate change by avoiding millions of tonnes of carbon emissions every year,” Banks said.

BT windfarm deal

In related news, BT has signed a new Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) worth £185m, over 15 years, with a Scottish wind farm to further support the provision of new renewable energy in the UK.

Thirteen wind turbines at Stroupster, in the far North of Scotland, now provides the company with 100GWh per year.

The deal was welcomed by Scottish Renewables director of policy, Jenny Hogan, who said: “The fact that we’re seeing more and more large companies like BT contracting most or all of their power from sources like wind, solar, hydro and biomass shows that renewable energy makes good business sense.

“Renewables are already Scotland’s biggest source of power – ahead of nuclear, gas and coal – and have the potential to provide half of all Scotland’s energy – electricity, heat and transport – by 2030. It’s great to see firms like BT grasp this opportunity to cut carbon and stabilise their energy costs.”

George Ogleby

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