FMQs: Greens press government to bolster “half-baked” climate plan

The dismal pace at which Scotland is transitioning away from fossil fuels was raised at First Minister’s Questions, with Patrick Harvie MSP citing issues with the Scottish Government’s “half-baked” climate plan.

The Scottish Greens’ co-convener pushed the Deputy First Minister to allocate extra capital funding, revealed in the chancellor’s budget, towards growing low carbon infrastructure to create “genuinely sustainable jobs that the country will need for the post-oil era”.

Harvie also raised how ministers are failing to curb rising private car journeys and reduce fertiliser use.

Glasgow MSP, Patrick Harvie said:

“Instead of squabbling over how much money can be raised from the dangerous extraction of finite North Sea oil, the other parties in Scotland should instead focus on our transition to safer and cleaner forms of renewable energy.

“Four parliamentary committee reports on the Climate Plan are due to be published, but looking at the submitted evidence and the questions asked by MSPs, it is clear there is serious concern. The situation is not as bad as with the UK government, even if that is setting the bar pretty low. Climate change was the elephant in the debating chamber, during Hammond’s Budget statement where not a single mention of climate change was made on the challenges we face nor on the opportunities of the low carbon economy which UK policies have done so much to undermine.

“I regret that the Scottish Government’s criticism of the chancellor on the North Sea is only that he’s not offering enough of a tax break to extract fossil fuel that the world can’t afford to burn. That’s why we’ll continue to press the government to make sure that extra capital funding designated to Scotland will be committed to low carbon infrastructure to help break our reliance on fossil fuel consumption and to build up the new industries and the genuinely sustainable jobs that the country will need for the post-oil era.”

Harvie added:

“Meanwhile in Scotland, the environment secretary is defending a Climate Plan which includes nothing to improve bus use while saying private car journeys will definitely go up by 25%. The Transport Minister on the other hand says no, that is only the worst case scenario and we’ve had the Environment Secretary telling Holyrood about the government’s policy for compulsory soil testing as a step towards reduced fertiliser use. Just one month later the Rural Economy Secretary writes to committees to say ‘no’ it’s definitely not happening. I suspect parliament will need to see far more consistency and detail from the government before its Climate Plan passes."