Thu 17 Dec, 2020

If Scotland is going to tackle the climate emergency, the Scottish Government must match its rhetoric with action, stop ploughing billions into new roads and catch up with the nations and regions that have begun transitioning and divesting from oil and gas Patrick Harvie

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been challenged by the Scottish Greens to commit to action to back up the Scottish Government’s new climate plan, which was published this week.

At First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie raised responses to the plan from WWF, who said the plan “missed opportunities” for delaying big decisions over the future of farming and energy standards for homes, and from the STUC, who said the plan was “more rhetoric than action”, failing to commit to a just transition for workers.

Mr Harvie called for Scotland to follow decisions like those taken by Norway to end fossil fuel exploration now and to set a date for ending extraction, or New York committing to a huge programme of divesting public money from the fossil fuel industry.

Patrick Harvie said: “Elements in the climate plan are to be welcomed, including free bus travel for young people that will start next year, and increased budgets for low carbon homes and infrastructure for cycling and walking. All of these are of course hard-won by the Scottish Greens in budget negotiations.

“But if Scotland is going to tackle the climate emergency, the Scottish Government must match its rhetoric with action, stop ploughing billions into new roads and catch up with the nations and regions that have begun transitioning and divesting from oil and gas.”

Patrick Harvie also challenged the First Minister to reveal where the SNP now stands on Heathrow expansion, after the London airport won a court appeal to build a third runway.

The Scottish Government signed up to support this in 2016 and Heathrow has sponsored several SNP conferences.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Harvie said: “Given the Scottish Government signed a memorandum of understanding with Heathrow in 2016 backing a third runway, a move that would hugely increase flight numbers and emissions, the First Minister’s coy refusal to say now whether she still backs this project is simply not good enough. The Scottish Government must finally, explicitly recognise that backing this extra runway would be a major setback for Scotland’s climate ambitions.”

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