Scotland's new Programme to tackle climate change published - with a net-zero emissions target
Published: 04 Sep 2019

On 3 September 2019, the Scottish Government published a new Programme which demonstrates its commitment to tackling climate change.

The new document includes a number of important policies which aim to reduce, and eventually lead to net-zero carbon emissions in Scotland by 2045 - five years before the rest of the UK.

Scottish Green New Deal

This is one of the most important elements to the 2019/2020 programme introduced by the Scottish Government, and among a net-zero target, includes policies for the environment, energy, agriculture, transport, construction as well as town and country planning:

  • mobilisation of £11 billion of annual public procurement to support Scotland's climate emergency response, including consulting on legislation to require public bodies to set out how they will meet climate change and circular economy obligations;
  • investment of over £500 million in improved bus priority infrastructure to tackle the impacts of congestion on bus services and improve bus usage;
  • work towards decarbonising flights within Scotland by 2040;
  • put the highlands and Islands on a path to becoming the world's first net-zero aviation region by 2040, including a commitment to zero emissions from Highland and Islands Airports Limited's operations, where trials aim to begin in 2021;
  • reduce railway emissions in Scotland to zero by 2035 through the continued electrification of the network, use of battery-powered trains and exploration of the potential of hydrogen-powered trains across Scotland;
  • provide an additional £17 million to support the demand for ultra-low emission vehicles through a Low Carbon Transport Loan scheme, while expanding the scheme to include used electric vehicles;
  • targeting a minimum of £30 million of support for renewable heat projects;
  • ensure that from 2024 all new homes must use a renewable or low-carbon heat, which will be achieved through changes to Building Regulations;
  • put the transition to net-zero at the heart of the Scottish National Investment Bank's work;
  • unlock additional resource for emissions-reducing investment through a Green Growth Accelerator, which aims to combine public and private investment to transform cities and regions;
  • bring to market a £3 billion portfolio of projects, including renewables, waste and construction, ready for green finance investment;
  • Scottish Water to become a zero-carbon user of electricity by 2040;
  • create a new Agricultural Transformation Programme which is focused on sustainability, simplicity, profitability, innovation, inclusion and productivity; and
  • support Scotland's people to gain the skills they need to share the rewards of these new approaches to investment through a Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan.

Environmental activists welcomed the publication, with Chairman of the Committee on Climate change (CCC), Lord Deben saying: "Scotland has led the UK in reducing its emissions and has ambitions to lead the world in tackling climate change: this Programme for Government suggests that vision is alive and well.

"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 tackle climate change and aware of the associated benefits for the planet, the Scottish people, and the economy."

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