Working Towards a Greener, Cleaner Future

A call from local MP Patricia Gibson for the UK government to work more closely with Holyrood to achieve the aims set out in the Climate Change Bill, which was recently voted on by the Scottish Parliament.

There is an increasing need for global action to tackle climate change and more and more people now consider their carbon footprint when buying goods. Scotland is leading the way in taking climate change seriously.

We are well on track to meet our challenging target of a 42% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, having already exceeded our target of producing half of Scotland’s electricity from renewables. Scotland was the fourth largest green energy consumer in the entire European Union in 2016, while renewable energy generation in Scotland reached record levels last year, providing the equivalent of 75% of gross electricity consumption.

The number of community-owned renewable energy projects in Scotland has surged by an encouraging 62% since 2011, with hundreds of local communities now benefitting from green power initiatives, helping them to develop their own low carbon energy from wind, solar, hydro, heat pump and biomass projects.

The SNP Government has a strong track record of supporting community empowerment and helping communities take steps to develop new renewable energy projects, despite huge subsidy cuts to renewables from the UK Tory Government.

Renewable energy is the future, so the rapid increase in community-owned green energy projects not only reduces carbon, it saves money.

As the planet continues to warm and the devastating impact of climate change becomes more obvious, we need to support new technology to help it develop and succeed for the good of the environment, public health and the economy.

Amendments to the Climate Change Bill currently making its way through the Scottish Parliament will set a legally binding target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the latest, with Scotland becoming carbon neutral by 2040. The existing Bill was already world-leading, but in response to calls from young people, scientists and businesses Scottish Ministers have gone further, accepting independent, expert advice that higher targets are now technically possible. Given the urgency, more ambitious targets have now been set. We have already halved greenhouse gas emissions while growing the economy, so these new targets can be delivered while continuing to build an inclusive and fair society

Nevertheless, we cannot do this alone. The Committee on Climate Change say that Scotland’s ability to meet these world-leading targets is contingent on the UK Government also accepting their advice and using the relevant policy levers under their control. They must also play their part, so it was hugely disappointing to see Michael Gove MP, UK Environment Secretary and one of myriad contenders to replace outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May, refuse to commit to following the Committee’s advice earlier this month.

It is a source of deep concern that the UK Government’s own projections show the UK to be off track from its current targets, which are only aimed at an 80% reduction by 2050. The next Prime Minister – whoever that may be – must recognise that the climate emergency requires action. It’s time for the UK to follow Scotland’s lead. We can’t let them hold us back.

Climate change plan