Saturday, 31 May 2008

Alison McInnes MSP on climate change

Was pleased to see North East Scotland MSP (and Scottish Liberal Democrat Climate Change spokesperson), Alison McInnes, last week call for the Scottish Government to take real action against climate change, so that Scotland takes a leading role in tackling this global challenge.

Alison said, “Just over a year ago the First Minister outlined his new Government’s priorities. He devoted a good deal of time to talking about the environmental challenges, the need for a Scottish Climate Change Bill, and the all-encompassing nature that action against climate change must take. But, 12 months on, every day it seems more and more as though the First Minister’s words were just that – words, and nothing more.

“We cannot, however, accuse the Government of doing nothing since they have come to power. Ministers have found the time to ditch their manifesto commitment to binding annual reduction targets of 3 per cent. They have committed to a huge increase in spending on roads, while at the same time delivering budget cuts to public transport. They have cut funding for sustainable travel initiatives and turned down planning applications for wind farm developments, while at the same time proclaiming that ‘coal is King’.

“For all the rhetoric, we have yet to see evidence that the Government has any substantive policies that will help meet the Bill’s targets. Setting an emissions target is important, but actually taking action that will allow that target to be met is where the real work lies.”

· Liberal Democrats want to see 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2050 and binding annual emissions reduction targets to set a clear trajectory towards an 80 per cent reduction by 2050. Liberal Democrats in Westminster have set out plans to make the UK carbon neutral by 2050.

· The Scottish Government must end its prevarication and inconsistency and come forward with substantive policies to tackle climate change. The Budget – with its simultaneous cuts to public and sustainable transport, increased spend on motorways and relatively low investment in green energy – offers no clarification. The Government’s astonishing delay in coming forward with a comprehensive energy strategy is also damaging. Scottish Renewables say the bill will be “meaningless” without a clear energy action plan. Ambitious targets are not in themselves sufficient. Targets are easy, delivery is hard.

· The Government doesn’t need to wait for the Climate Change Bill before it takes steps to curb harmful emissions - a year has passed without concrete action on energy use and sourcing, travel and transportation, waste production and disposal, estate management, and procurement of goods and services. The Scottish Government and the public sector could take the lead right now.

You can read Alison McInnes’ speech to the Scottish Parliament last Wednesday by clicking on the headline above.