The UK Government appears intent on being an obstacle to Scotland’s ambitious plans to tackle climate change, writes Alan Brown MP. As we face another record-breaking hot summer, it’s important to remember that the climate crisis we face may also lead to harsher winters. Since most of Scotland’s energy usage comes from heating, energy efficiency doesn’t only go a long way in helping Scotland play its part in tackling the climate crisis, but it helps to keep our household bills down. Every year, over 3,000 people in the UK die due to inability to afford home heating – the second worst rate in Europe. It is absolutely unacceptable for people to be forced to choose between having the heating on or cooking their dinner. It is shameful that in 2019 people are going hungry or dying from not being able to afford their heating bills. Scotland is among only a handful of countries to define fuel poverty, let alone set targets relating to its eradication. The Scottish Government’s recent Fuel Poverty Bill sets strict targets to reduce fuel poverty to no more than five per cent of households by 2040, and links the definition to household incomes and the higher cost of living in rural and island areas. I was pleased to see a House of Commons report this week praising Scotland’s decision to classify energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority, and spending four times as much as the Tories at Westminster on household energy efficiency – the highest average annual per capita investment in the UK. By marking it as infrastructure priority, the SNP Scottish Government has embedded efficiency as a structural long-term benefit. A report published yesterday revealed that Westminster support for onshore wind could save each UK household £50 a year – cutting total electricity costs by seven per cent – yet the Tories continue to block onshore wind from competing for government-backed contracts. A wealth of evidence shows that nuclear is no longer financially viable, yet the Tories are dogmatically tied to new nuclear. The disastrous Hinkley development commits to a £92.50/MWH nuclear strike price, compared to offshore wind’s £57, effectively creating an unnecessary increase of 60 per cent. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) could reduce emissions and cross-party MPs have said the technology is needed for UK to meet its energy targets, yet the Tories cancelled a £1 billion investment into CCS in 2015 that could have created 600 jobs in Scotland.
Scotsman 16th July 2019 read more »