Programme for Government: First Minister Humza Yousaf rapped over ‘deeply disappointing’ plans to tackle climate crisis
“This is the existential threat of our times and we have a moral duty to respond to the climate and nature crises. The stakes could not be higher.
“We do not underestimate what this change means for daily life, particularly during these tough times. However, this is the time for climate leadership, not for playing politics while the planet burns, and my Government will continue to show the leadership required.”
Despite these words, the new Programme for Government, which comes following a series of missed annual climate targets, seems light on environmental action, especially considering the SNP’s power-sharing deal with the Scottish Greens.
Opposition MSPs and campaigners have said it is just “more of the same” from “a continuity First Minister with a continuity agenda”.
One notable announcement was a potential ban on disposable vapes, which as well as posing a risk to health, particularly among young people, cannot be recycled and are creating a massive litter problem.
Another is a coming sector deal aimed at boosting expansion of onshore wind, with a promise to alter planning regulations to speed up consenting time, and implementation of a hydrogen action plan.
But there was almost no mention of oil and gas in the Programme for Government, despite fossil fuel usage being blamed as the biggest source of climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions and the importance of the industry in Scotland.
Plans to outlaw throwaway e-cigarettes have been widely welcomed, but the overall response from environmentalists was tepid.
Mike Robinson, chair of coalition Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, said it offered “few, if any, new measures to deliver emissions reductions”. He said: “This is deeply disappointing and a missed opportunity to set out concrete measures to reduce emissions.”
Friends of the Earth Scotland had been calling for the Government to put “action to wind down fossil fuels” and to push to block drilling at Rosebank, the biggest untapped oil field in the North Sea.
Caroline Rance, the charity’s climate and energy campaigner, described the plans as “underwhelming” and “more of the same”.
“What is needed is a radical change that can speed Scotland away from the damage being wrought by fossil fuel companies,” she said. “The First Minister talked a good game about the importance of climate action and a just transition to net zero, but warm words won't stop a warming planet.”
Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, said there were “some welcome commitments”, but further delays to key legislation, including the Heat in Buildings Bill and the Natural Environment Bill, were “disappointing”.
Green energy industry leaders said they were “pleased” with the Government’s ambition to boost collaboration and encourage growth.
Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “The renewable energy industry has been calling for a Green Industrial Strategy for more than two years now, so we are pleased to see the Scottish Government acknowledge that the public and private sectors must work together in order to bring about the investment our industry needs to deliver our net-zero ambitions.”
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