Don’t Let Brexit Sabotage Scotland’s Action on Climate Change, Nicola Sturgeon Warns Westminster
Scotland’s First Minister said the country’s membership of the single market had been key to it investing in clean energy.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has urged the Government not to let Brexit imperil Scotland’s plan to reach ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2045.
In a speech last week at Glasgow’s All Energy Conference, Ms Sturgeon said Scotland is home to “the world’s first floating off-shore wind farm, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, and the world’s largest planned tidal array” and that membership of the single market has been key to the country investing in clean energy.
She urged her counterparts in Westminster not to sabotage Scotland’s chances of meeting the ‘net zero’ target by pursuing a damaging Brexit strategy or by failing to commit to targets themselves.
“Scotland’s ability to achieve these transformations is not entirely in our own hands, it will also depend on the actions of the UK Government”, she said.
“Brexit is one part of that. I don’t intend to dwell on this too much, but, as all of you know, single market membership has helped the [renewable energy] sector to attract significant investment. We also benefit hugely from international collaboration on research projects. For that, and many other reasons, the Scottish Government believes the issue of Brexit should now be put back to the people – with an option to remain in the EU.”
Tree-planting is a key indicator of a country’s level of responsiveness on climate change because trees are considered the ‘easiest’ way to offset carbon emissions.
“The Committee on Climate Change was clear in its report that for Scotland to achieve net zero emissions by 2045, the UK Government must play its part,” she added. “We believe it should set a target of net zero emissions for the UK by 2050 and urgently put in place the policies that will deliver that target.”
Scotland is the only country in the UK to have so far committed to a target of ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2045 – an even more ambitious target than the one advised by the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC) for the rest of the UK.
The UK Government is yet to commit to the target.
Remarkably, Scotland already appears to be on course to meet it, with renewable energy sources now reportedly supplying 75% of energy demand in Scotland. It also produces hydrogen fuel from wind farms in the North Sea and plans to upscale this production.
However, in England, it is a different story.
‘Rudderless’ Michael Gove Not Offering ‘Anything New’
Tree-planting is a key indicator of a country’s level of responsiveness on climate change because trees are considered the ‘easiest’ way to offset carbon emissions as they naturally take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen.
But, while Scotland is likely to hit its target of 10,000 new hectares of annual new woodland creation when the latest figures are published next month, England will still be “around 2000 hectares” behind its target, according to the Forestry body Confor.
Research by Confor suggests that Theresa May’s administration simply “rolled over” the amount of trees planted in 2010-2015 when new targets were set.
Stuart Goodall, chief executive of Confor, told Byline Times that planting is faster in Scotland due to politicians recognising it to be a win-win. “We can grow trees in the UK very quickly, it’s renewable, it’s locking up carbon while it is growing,” he said. “It also creates employment in rural areas and often areas where they need more employment.”
MSPs said last week that Environment Secretary Michael Gove had offered them “nothing new” and appeared “rudderless” in a scrutiny session with Holyrood’s Environment Committee.
Westminster, by contrast, has its feet planted in the past.
Scotland’s ability to achieve these transformations is not entirely in our own hands, it will also depend on the actions of the UK Government.Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
During the session, Mr Gove refused to commit to the CCC’s advised target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. He said that this would be a whole government decision, which he deferred to ministers in the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to lead.
Mr Gove told MSPs that he admired and supported them for putting climate change at the top of their agenda in the Scottish Parliament, but gave little indication of Westminster’s Parliament following suit.
Plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport are “sensitive to climate change and to air quality”, he said, with the UK Government remaining committed to its support of the scheme – despite scientists issuing escalating warnings that expansion of aviation will set back international efforts to combat climate change.