Scottish Greens say low-carbon choices must be ‘cheaper’ amid UK Government plans to reduce emissions

The Scottish Greens have criticised UK Government plans to reduce carbon emissions with increased bills by saying they don’t go far enough.

Ministers are planning to introduce a carbon reduction scheme that could increase the costs of gas and petrol as part of an attempt to decarbonise the economy.

According to The Times, the proposals could see the average cost of running a petrol car rise by more than £100 a year, and the cost of the average gas bill increase by as much as £170.

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The proposals will be rolled out across the UK and it is believed officials in Whitehall are now discussing how to implement them with the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Greens have questioned plans for a carbon reduction scheme that could increase the costs of gas and petrol
The Scottish Greens have questioned plans for a carbon reduction scheme that could increase the costs of gas and petrol

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie has now questioned the increase in prices and demanded low-carbon choices become cheaper.

He said: “Simply increasing costs for high-carbon activity isn't going to cut it - we need to make it cheaper and easier for people to make the low-carbon choices.

“That means improving public transport services across the country, particularly in rural areas, greening bus, train and ferry fleets, and making serious cuts to fares across the board.

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“When it comes to heating homes, charging people more for gas without helping people switch to renewable heating, and while continuing to build gas-dependent new homes, is absurd.

“Ensuring that heat networks are built into new development plans and that developers are not allowed to choose the short-termism of the gas grid is vital.”

Mr Harvie also questioned how seriously the UK Government were taking the issue, and compared it to his own party’s record.

He added: “We recognise the benefits of working with rural Scotland to tackle the climate and nature emergencies in the food and farming sector.

“The Tories, on the other hand, have put the future of the entire sector at risk by signing a damaging trade deal with Australia.”

Boris Johnson will meet Rishi Sunak and Kwasi Kwarteng next week to discuss the scheme, which could be launched as soon as next year.

Jill Duggan, executive director at Environmental Defense Fund Europe, backed carbon pricing and suggested it could be a useful mechanism to incentivise good behaviour.

She said: “Depending on how the system is set up, it does have an incentivising effect and also has the benefit of flexibility.

“It is the kind of policy we are going to need if we are to keep to our net-zero ambitions.”

However, Joshua Burke, senior policy fellow at the London School of Economics claimed it would not work in isolation.

He said: “We really need to look across the suite of taxes in the economy and complete fiscal reform if we are to reach net zero.

"Carbon pricing can be part of that but we shouldn’t see it in isolation.”

The consultation for the fossil-fuel emissions trading scheme will begin before the Cop26 climate change conference in Glasgow this November.

Government advisers recently claimed that despite the ambition to hit net-zero emissions by 2050 there is a “vacuum” in policy.

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