New First Minister pledges to “better” Scotland’s green targets

The new First Minister of Scotland replies to Zero Hour’s #SNPpledge, promising to “meet and better” the Scottish Government’s green targets

“I hope that this reassures you of my commitment to meeting and bettering our Scottish Government green targets.” – Humza Yousaf MSP

Humza Yousaf MSP has won the election to be the next leader of the SNP, and has been selected by the Scottish Parliament as First Minister of Scotland.

Following his response to Zero Hour’s #SNPpledge initiative (below)—promising to “meet and better” the Scottish Government’s green targets—we congratulate the new First Minister, urging him and all Scottish Ministers to keep the climate-nature crisis at the top of the agenda.

We’re ready to work with all MSPs, including (long-standing CE Bill supporters) the Scottish Green MSPs—who entered into a cooperation agreement with the SNP in 2021 via the Bute House Agreement—to ensure that the Scottish Government acts further and faster to tackle the climate and ecological emergency.

Alongside Mr Yousaf’s pledge to “meet and better the Scottish Government green targets”, Zero Hour is keen to build relationships with the 38 MSPs who backed Zero Hour’s Nature & Climate Declaration in late 2022—including 20 SNP MSPs, 9 Labour MSPs, 6 Scottish Green MSPs, 2 Conservative MSPs and 1 Lib Dem MSP—to keep the need for action and ambition at the top of the agenda.

The #SNPpledge—like the Declaration—calls for three, key environmental policies; which are drawn from the Climate & Ecology Bill including:

1. Reducing Scotland’s fair share of greenhouse gas emissions in line with limiting global heating to 1.5°C

2. Ensuring that the degradation and loss of nature across Scotland is in reverse by 2030

3. Delivering an integrated environmental protection and decarbonisation plan that leaves no one in Scotland behind.

From the First Minister’s response (below), there’s a much that we want to talk to the new SNP-Green Government about in terms of advancing its green energy, just transition and (new) Green Innovation plans—but we’re encouraged by Mr Yousaf’s promise to “meet and better” the Scotland’s environmental targets—and we’re ready and willing to work with the SNP and Scottish Greens to better align Scotland’s climate and nature plans with the science for both 1.5°C, and for restoring the natural world.

“We’re asking Mr Yousaf to put the need for action to tackle the climate-nature crisis at their top of the SNP’s agendas in Holyrood, Westminster, and local authorities. It’s zero hour for the climate-nature crisis. The new First Minister must match his ambition with the policies that will ‘keep 1.5°C alive’, and reverse the destruction of nature.”

 


 

Dr Amy McDonnell

F.A.O. Dr Amy McDonnell (Director, Zero Hour)

Dear Dr McDonnell,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write to me as a candidate in the SNP leadership contest.

I hope that you have been pleased so far by my policies and priorities which focus on accelerating our Just Transition to make our economy and society green.

Below, I will outline my current policies and commitments which I believe all contribute to the goals you have outlined, which I agree with.

Green energy

On green energy, I will:

– Increase Scotland’s green energy output fivefold and slash soaring energy bills for working families in Scotland

– Deliver a green innovation master plan that will help to end fuel poverty in energy rich Scotland once and for all

– Ensure all future offshore wind leasing rounds require projects to provide a public equity stake of at least 10% as part of the lease agreement instead of part of annual rent or leasing payments to ensure a long term revenue stream to the Scottish Government.

– Deliver a step change in renewable generation on publicly owned land and buildings, and

– Empower Scottish Water to explore opportunities for hydrogen generation, marrying Scotland’s renewable energy potential with our publicly owned water assets to create zero carbon hydrogen energy for use in transport, industry and heating.

Deposit return scheme

I am committed to pausing the deposit return scheme (DRS) for small businesses for one year so they can get a fairer deal and support for implementing the scheme.

However, I cannot and will not let the big corporations—who are responsible for most of the single use and un-recycled products that litter our streets, green spaces and beaches—off the hook.

They operate DRS in many other countries, so should be doing the same here.

SNP 2021 manifesto commitments

If First Minister, I am committed to continuing and accelerating the 2021 SNP manifesto commitments upon which we were elected. Below is a list of the green commitments we set out in 2021:

– Deliver a green transport revolution to meet our net zero targets

– Provide free bikes for all children of school age who cannot afford them

– Remove the majority of fossil fuel buses from public transport by 2023

– Create a greener, more affordable railway

– Decarbonise the heating of 1m homes by 2030 with investment of £1.6b over the next Parliament to tackle climate crisis

– Decarbonise Scotland’s rail services by 2035

– £500m to tackle the biodiversity crisis

– Restore Scottish peatlands

– Raise our tree planting targets by 50%

– Deposit return scheme

– From 2024, all new homes and buildings will only use renewable or zero-emissions heating

– Introduce new Land Reform Bill with a pre-emption in favour of community buy-out

– Double the Scottish Land Fund, and

– Double world-leading Climate Justice Fund to £24m over 4 years.

Just Transition

It’s clear that a Just Transition within the devolved context is challenging and, as with so many other aspects of life in Scotland, independence would offer us a wider range of options. Without a doubt, having the full powers of independence would allow us to unleash Scotland’s true potential in the energy sector and beyond.

Under my government, I would commit to our Just Transition Programme. We have seen the scarring to communities and the societal damage that happens when through the process of industrial change there is a government that doesn’t support people through that.  In any government I head, we will never leave people and communities behind.

We will invest in people to make sure that they are able to play their full part in the net zero economy. As part of that, I would ensure that existing funding is targeted at skills—enabling people to top up their skills so they can access the tens of thousands of good quality jobs that will be available—and to support young people coming into the labour market to work in new low carbon energy industries. I would also roll out a pilot project—a skills passport—which would enable people to move smoothly between oil and gas and renewables.

As First Minister, I will also keep pressure on the UK Government to support the acorn carbon capture project, which is a huge investment and essential for decarbonising our energy. A Just Transition is not just about people working in the oil and gas sector either. I also recognise the knock on effect on local businesses and communities if jobs are lost, which is why my government will prioritise building the clean energy industry. I want us to create more jobs and wealth, which stays in Scotland and fuels our wellbeing economy, instead of simply boosting the profits of big oil companies.

Green Innovation Master Plan

As First Minister, I will deliver a Green Innovation Master Plan that will help end fuel poverty in energy rich Scotland, once and for all.  It will not only cut bills and hand consumers access to affordable green energy, it would also create hundreds of thousands of new skilled jobs and bring billions into our economy. However, there is so much more we could do with independence to achieve a Just Transition and green economy.

With independence, we wouldn’t have to wait for UK Government approval or funding, or face having legislation and policies blocked. With independence we can go so much further. We can turn Scotland from a nation of enormous renewable potential to a genuine renewable superpower. With independence, we could re-design an energy market that aims to provide secure and reliable low cost energy. Scotland’s enormous renewable energy resources would be the bedrock of our new economy.

Independence would allow us to invest remaining oil revenues and use our borrowing powers to set up an independence investment fund which could contribute to Scotland transitioning to net zero and kick start the sustainable economic growth, which will be important to a newly independent nation. Such a fund could support a massive programme to decarbonise housing, cut fuel bills and reduce fuel poverty. It could finance the building of thousands more affordable homes, and invest in local renewable energy projects—helping communities own assets and wield more influence over their use.

Scotland can be a model for how an economy can make the fastest possible transition to net zero, transforming itself, decarbonising, and creating secure, well-paid jobs.

I hope that this reassures you of my commitment to meeting and bettering our Scottish Government green targets.

Kind regards,

Humza

Humza for Scotland

[email protected] | @HumzaYousaf

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