08 October 2010
The call comes from a powerful coalition of interests from across Scottish society representing as many as two million people. The coalition, which includes trade unionists, students, faith groups, aid charities, environmental organisations and campaign groups, has previously been influential in shaping Scotland’s policies to combat climate change.
The groups are calling for manifesto commitments to a £100 million-a-year home insulation programme, a £9 million-a-year increase in the international aid budget and an investment of up to £120 million to restore peat bogs. They also want reductions to speed limits and curbs on new road building.
The Stop Climate Chaos Scotland coalition brings together over 60 groups, including the trade union Unison, the National Union of Students, Oxfam and WWF Scotland. Its lobbying helped persuade the Scottish Parliament last year to introduce world-leading targets to reduce climate pollution.
Now the coalition is trying to ensure that in the run-up to the election next May, every political party makes the promises that will be needed to meet those targets. The aim is to cut greenhouse gas emissions 42% by 2020.
The coalition is calling for the speed limit on all single carriageway roads to be reduced to 50mph, and for better enforcement of existing speed limits. At least ten per cent of the travel budget should be invested in “active travel” like walking or cycling, it says.
Other policies being proposed include boosting ambitions for renewable energy, banning the purchase of “carbon credits” from other countries and a “behaviour change fund” of at least £12.5 million a year.
“We know that many of the measures required will help create a healthier, more equal society,” argued Tom Ballantine, chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland.
“There are also real economic benefits. The range and diversity of the asks in the manifesto make plain the rewards – lower fuel bills, more jobs and better health.”
The coalition is sending its “manifesto for climate action” to every political party before this autumn’s round of Scottish party political conferences. It is hoping to influence the contents of party manifestos.
Chas Booth from the Association for the Conservation of Energy pointed out that the £100 million a year area-based energy efficiency programme will help deliver warm, dry homes without warming the planet. "Investing in the energy efficiency of Scotland's buildings is the cheapest, easiest and quickest way to cut our greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.
A £9 million a year fund to help developing countries cope with climate change is being backed by international charities like Oxfam and SCIAF. “Wealthy nations like Scotland have an historic and moral obligation to help those most affected by the problem we helped to create,” said Claire Aston from Christian Aid Scotland.
One obvious policy missing from the coalition’s demands is a commitment not to proceed with plans for a new, polluting coal-fired power station at Hunterston in North Ayrshire. That is because trade unionists in the coalition back the plant.
Political parties all competed to sound positive about the coalition’s proposals. “The SNP has been delighted to meet Stop Climate Chaos Scotland to discuss their ideas as we work towards our manifesto for the 2011 election,” stated the nationalist MSP, Shirley-Anne Sommerville.
Labour’s environment spokeswoman, Sarah Boyack MSP, said: “We welcome this document and it’s right that pressure is placed on political parties to make climate change a key issue in the forthcoming Holyrood elections.”
The LibDem environment spokesman, Liam McArthur MSP, promised his party would be looking at “a range of possible measures” to meet Scotland’s climate targets. The Scottish Conservative environment spokesman, John Scott MSP, agreed that tackling climate change “must remain a key priority for politicians.”
The Green MSP Patrick Harvie pointed out that many of the proposals were already supported by the Scottish Greens. "The other parties have spent years talking about the environment, but they're still backing massively inefficient, polluting and unnecessary measures including road-building, new oil drilling and short-haul aviation,” he said.
“The crucial question for all parties and for others who want to influence the debate will be how to find the funding for them, even assuming some of the SNP's vanity roads schemes can be halted.”
Policies needed to cut climate change
- the establishment of a new fund of £9 million a year to help developing countries adapt to climate change
- a £100 million a year programme to improve energy efficiency in buildings
- a cut in the national speed limit to 50mph on single carriageways
- a commitment to move away from road building
- at least ten percent of the transport budget to be invested in active travel
- investment of £60-120 million to restore peatlands
- a £12.5 million a year "behaviour change fund"
- ruling out the future use of climate credits to meet climate targets
source: Stop Climate Chaos Scotland
This story was also covered by The Scotsman here.