Scotland must set tough new energy goals that are in harmony with nature in its forthcoming energy plan, according to environmentalists.
Climate change is hailed as the single biggest threat to people and nature worldwide.
In an effort to slow the global rise in temperature, Scotland has set a world-leading goal to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
Decarbonising the energy system is a key element in achieving the challenge.
The goal is for the ‘equivalent’ of 100 per cent of domestic electricity to come from renewable sources.
Scotland has already reached its 2020 interim target of 50 per cent, with the latest figures showing renewables met 59.4 per cent of electricity demand in 2015.
But there is currently no target for heat, transport and power generation
Now, with publication of the draft energy strategy expected next week, campaigners say the bar should be raised to include all power needs.
They are calling for a tough new target to be set, requiring half of all energy to come from renewable s by 2030.
Conservationists at RSPB Scotland are urging ministers to maximise what they say is a “monumental opportunity” to transform the power system.
They claim an increase in renewable energy schemes of the right type in the right place that take consideration of the local environment are key to achieving climate ambitions.
They have laid out a 10-point list of recommendations for how it should be done.
This includes developing innovative new technology such as floating wind turbines, which could minimise the potential impact on nature, as well as improving energy-efficiency to reduce wastage.
“Committing to sourcing 50 per cent of Scotland’s energy from renewable sources by 2030 would send out a strong message that Scotland is dedicated to achieving its 2050 climate target whilst also protecting our amazing wildlife,” said Aedán Smith, head of planning and development at RSPB Scotland.
“This really is a monumental opportunity for the Scottish Government to commit the country’s future to wildlife-friendly low-carbon energy.
“We’re currently a long way from meeting our 2050 climate target – this Scottish Energy Strategy is the chance for the government to show how serious it is about meeting this.”
The calls have been echoed by other environmental groups as well as renewables industry experts.
Jenny Hogan, director of policy at Scottish Renewables, said the time is right to look beyond 2020 and set a new 50 per cent target. She says this would let Scotland continue to build on the economic and environmental benefits the industry is already delivering.