Scotland Lays Out Net-Zero Emissions Plan, Draws Fire for Continuing Embrace of Offshore Fossils
The Scottish government has outlined plans to make its 2045 zero emissions target a “centrepiece” of its program and “lay the foundations for a new Scottish Green Deal”. But at least one major environmental group is pointing to the “obvious contradiction” in the country’s continuing embrace of its offshore oil and gas industry, Global Citizen reports.
“Earlier this year I acknowledged that Scotland, alongside the rest of the world, faces a climate emergency,” said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Now, she’s released a Programme for Government that she described as “an important part of our response to the climate emergency, containing measures which will reduce emissions while supporting sustainable and inclusive growth.”
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The program “sets out actions which will make a difference for years to come,” Sturgeon added. “It details measures which can help make our country the best in the world to grow up, learn, work, and live. It meets the challenges of the future, while staying true to our enduring values.”
Key elements of the plan include:
• A plan to decarbonize all air travel within Scotland by 2040, beginning with zero-emission flight tests in 2021;
• £500 million to transform the country’s bus network into a more attractive travel option;
• Decarbonizing the Scottish rail network by 2035;Grid;
• £17 million to boost demand for electric vehicles, ahead of a UK-leading 2032 deadline to phase out new petrol and diesel cars;
• A 2024 deadline for new homes to use renewable sources of low-carbon heat;
• A £3-billion investment package to attract green finance to the country;
• A commitment that state-owned Scottish Water will produce three times more renewable energy than it consumes by 2030 and hit a net-zero target by 2040.
“If carried through, these commitments will slash emissions and deliver benefits to people and the Scottish environment now and for years to come,” said Gina Hanrahan, head of policy at WWF Scotland, adding that it’s “great to see climate take centre stage” in the government’s broader action program. “At a time when all eyes are likely to turn to Scotland ahead of UN Climate talks in Glasgow [in 2020], it’s vital we implement and build on these policies in the next budget and climate plan.”
But Friends of the Earth Scotland pointed to Scotland’s continuing commitment to its offshore oil and gas industry as the big gap in the plan.
“This package includes some very welcome commitments, but it not nearly enough to address the desperate climate emergency the world is facing,” said Director Richard Dixon. The “obvious contradiction at the heart of this program,” he added, “is its commitment to some new measures in transport, heating, and agriculture while continuing to back the offshore oil and gas industry to keep on drilling and destroying our climate.”
Sturgeon called the program announcement “significant”, while stressing that the basket of measures in the Programme for Government “should not be viewed as the sum total of our efforts,” with reports and plans on infrastructure, transport, and capital spending all due next year along with an updated national climate plan. “All of this work is vital in ensuring that Scotland becomes a net-zero emissions nation,” she added.