Scottish budget: Green cash 'not enough'' to tackle fuel poverty

Scottish ministers have pledged nearly £2 billion will be spent in the next year in a “record investment” to help tackle climate change and create new green jobs.

The Scottish Government has announced £1.9 billion will be spent in the next 12 months to help tackle climate change and create new green jobs

The announcement, part of the latest budget, includes £1.6 billion to tackle energy-efficiency and heating in buildings, £120 million for zero-emission buses and £500 million to encourage walking, cycling and other active travel.

A further £250 million has been set aside for peatland restoration and £70 million will go into improving waste and recycling infrastructure.

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The announcement comes as the country prepares to host the Cop26 UN climate conference, billed as the most significant since the Paris Agreement on climate change was set out in 2015.

The latest budget also allocates £3 million to support countries most affected by the effects of global warming.

Environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “Our commitment to tackling the twin crisis of climate change and biodiversity loss is unwavering and this cross-government investment ensures we support the transformational change required to become net-zero by 2045 – doing so in a way that protects our environment, creates good, green jobs and ensures no-one is left behind.”

She added: “This budget enhances Scotland’s role as an international climate leader, backing up the world’s toughest climate target framework with on-the-ground delivery.”

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But opposition MSPs have criticised the plan, which they say falls far short of what is needed.

Claudia Beamish, environment and climate change spokeswoman for Scottish Labour, said the Scottish Government had the opportunity to do “so much more”.

“A bolder budget could have delivered action for warmer homes, green jobs and climate recovery,” she said.

“Today 613,000 households are in fuel poverty in Scotland, with 311,000 in extreme fuel poverty.

“Given the scale of unmet need, the current budget is far less than experts suggest is required to tackle fuel poverty in Scotland.

“This investment should be doubled to at least £244 million for the coming year to see a step change in energy-efficiency activity, with a focus on early action on retrofitting to secure local jobs, prevent rising long-term costs and tangibly improving the lives of people living in fuel poverty.”

Cop26 was due to take place in Glasgow last year, but has been rescheduled for this November due to the coronavirus crisis.

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