The Scottish Government has now published its plans for the new parliamentary year, telling us how it will invest in the economy to recover from the pandemic. The plan’s cover carries a photo of a young girl looking out at the world from behind a window. It’s an apt summary of life this year, but will the plan deliver the brighter, greener future promised to her by the First Minister this summer? There is a lot to digest in the plan, so I’ll focus on our priorities at WWF – cutting climate emissions, particularly in energy and agriculture, and restoring Scotland’s nature. The biggest green funding promise was a near doubling of the budget to insulate our homes and buildings and fit them with renewable heating. This welcome £1.6 billion investment, to be spent over the next five years, will deliver jobs, lower emissions, cut energy bills and, crucially, cut fuel poverty. We don’t yet know exactly how this new cash will be spent, but the priority should be helping households be more energy efficient and to switch away from polluting fossil fuel boilers. Making our buildings greener is a huge infrastructure challenge – it could cost as much as £45 billion in total, equivalent to 30 Queensferry crossings. But it’s also a huge opportunity to boost the Scottish economy, and the commitment to lay out the industrial strategy to deliver those benefits is eagerly awaited. A £100m ‘Green Jobs Fund’ is also welcome and can support growth in this and other green sectors. Overall, there are welcome steps forward that will help create green jobs now and lay important foundations for the future, and some areas to improve to build a truly green recovery. And as the climate and nature emergencies grow ever more urgent, it’s vital that these promises become a reality, and soon.
Scotsman 14th Sept 2020 read more »