Wed 12 Jun, 2019

Scottish Greens Parliamentary Co-Leaders Alison Johnstone and Patrick Harvie have written to the First Minister expressing their concern at her government appearing to walk back a commitment to review all policies in light of the climate emergency. 

Following her declaration the First Minister stated that, “all our policies require to be reviewed in the light of the report of the Committee on Climate Change”. Yet, in response to Patrick Harvie at FMQs last week, the Deputy First Minister, who was standing in for the First Minister, appeared to contradict this statement, suggesting that the A9 and A96 dualling projects would not be part of this review. 

The letter reads, “Transport is responsible for over a third of Scotland’s emissions and this is increasing, yet this is a fully devolved area with a total budget of over £2.5bn. It is absolutely essential that transport policy and every specific infrastructure project is reviewed to ensure it is aligned behind our climate goals.

“Following the declaration of a climate emergency the Welsh Government cancelled its plans for the £1.4bn M4 relief road. This is an example of one of the many brave decisions that need to be made in the face of the climate emergency.

“We believe that you must now urgently confirm whether the remaining stages of the A9 and A96 dualling projects will be part of the forthcoming review, what scope the review will have to consider alternatives such as upgrading and electrification of the currently single-track Highland mainline, and when and how this review will be taken forward.” 

Patrick Harvie MSP said: 

“If the First Minister’s climate emergency declaration is to be taken seriously, she must confirm that transport projects will be included in the policy review she announced. The Scottish Government often describes itself a climate leader, but we know there are countries like Sweden, Denmark and Finland who have set much more ambitious targets than are currently planned for Scotland. Rolling back on promises made just a month ago is not a good look. 

Alison Johnstone MSP said: 

“Diverting investment from polluting road projects into an efficient and affordable rail network, and good quality publicly run buses would benefit everyone in our communities, not only those who own a car. Tackling the climate emergency requires the government to take tough decisions, but investment in improving our ailing public transport system is an easy decision which would benefit both the environment and the economy, and would be hugely popular too.” 

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