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Programme for Government commits to real action on climate change

10 September 2019

Climate change at the heart

Last week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the government’s plan for the coming year in the Programme for Government. The 2019-20 programme puts the climate crisis front and centre and sets out the actions that Scotland will take to end its contribution to climate change.

The programme includes new policies and measures to help Scotland reduce emissions including funding and policy levers in key areas of transport, skills and training and heat. It also reaffirms Scotland’s ambition to continue to be a world leader on the transition to a zero-carbon economy and society.

"This Programme for Government sets out actions we will take to end Scotland’s contribution to global climate change. The actions we will take now and the foundations we will put in place in the year ahead are clear markers of how Scotland will transition to net zero emissions and how we will work in partnership to achieve it."

Calling for an acceleration in Scotland’s work on cutting emissions and moving to cleaner energy, the programme recognises that fundamental changes are required to the way we move, work and live. It also recognises that the only way to achieve this is in collaboration with each other and across sectors and services.

Scotland’s green New Deal

A commitment to green and sustainable investment must underpin Scotland’s plan to tackle the climate emergency. The programme for government sets out a number of initiatives including:

What does this mean for the public sector?

Transport mission zero

The programme aims to work in tandem with the Government’s National Transport Strategy which is currently under consultation and expected to be published by the end of the year. Together these documents set out redefined investment priorities that put net zero at the heart of decision making on transport. Key actions include:

Assessing the City Deals

Our network is not alone in expressing concern that investment approaches of the city deals ignores climate change and risks locking in emissions for years to come.

The programme commits to “work with partners to assess the contribution that growth deals can make to tackling climate change and how our forthcoming investments can strengthen our economy, make our society fairer and protect our environment.”

Public sector emissions – heat, buildings and the environment

This year’s new commitments across heating, energy efficiency and construction signal important shifts in public sector investment and set out the national government’s position on leveraging private investment.

A new Net Zero Carbon Standard for new public buildings and accelerating efforts to use 100% renewable electricity on the Scottish public estate are key to the public sector’s efforts to up the pace on lowering emissions.

Scottish Water, the public sector’s largest emitter will become a zero-carbon user of electricity by 2040 – five years before the net zero target.

The programme addresses the key issue of biodiversity loss, recognising the interlocking of our natural environment and the climate crisis. The Scottish Government commits to a further £2million in funds for work on biodiversity loss – this is in addition to the Biodiversity Challenge Fund was has already been taken up.

Climate Emergency Response Group (CERG)

On Monday 26 August 2019, the Climate Emergency Response Group, a group of civic and business leaders that the SSN and our Chair Kate Dapré is a member of, released a 12- point plan of the key actions that the Scottish Government needs to undertake in its forthcoming Programme for Government, if we’re to avoid breaching 1.5oC of warming, which would mean disaster for people and nature around the world.

CERG’s 12-point plan, which the SSN supported, is a key feature of the programme for government. With particular reference to the collaborative nature of the response and a commitment to continue to work with the Group.

“We have noted their 12 specific asks and this Programme for Government responds to them, as well as making other major commitments to set out some of the first actions we will take to respond to the climate emergency. We will continue to work with CERG and other key stakeholders across Scottish society to deliver on our commitment to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.”

Key links and further reading

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