First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today announced the new Programme for Government, which contains a host of environment measures that will improve the lives of people in Scotland through cleaner air, reduced waste, investment in green energy and ensuring the transition to a low carbon economy is fair.

Key measures announced in the PFG:

  • phasing out diesel and petrol vehicles by 2032
  • tackling air pollution with 4 Low Emission Zones across Scotland by 2020
  • new Just Transition Commission to help Scotland move to a low-carbon economy fairly
  • new National Investment Bank to fund long term, patient projects
  • deposit return scheme for bottles and cans
  • decision on fracking in the coming weeks

Friends of the Earth Scotland Director Dr Richard Dixon commented,

“This is the greenest programme for government in the history of the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Government has put improving and protecting the environment at the heart of their legislative and policy programme. Promises here will reduce climate change emissions, save people from air pollution and help Scotland become a leading example of a low carbon country. This package is a very significant step towards a fossil-free Scotland.

“The First Minister explicitly recognised our moral responsibility to act on climate change and stated her commitment to doing Scotland’s full share of global efforts to limit warming to 1.5c. The measures announced today mean the Scottish Government should find little difficulty in further increasing ambition in the new climate act.”

Air pollution and transport – the Government will: introduce Low Emission Zones in Scotland’s biggest cities by 2020; set a target of phasing out new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032; turn the A9 into an electric superhighway; and double the budget for cycling and walking.

Dr Dixon said:

“Phasing out new petrol and diesel vehicles is a big step forward for tackling air pollution and climate change emissions. Setting a date of 2032 puts Scotland among the most ambitious countries in the world on vehicle electrification, and the announcement of an A9 electric superhighway also sends a very important signal on the future of motorised transport in Scotland.”

“Low Emission Zones, which restrict the most polluting vehicles from the most polluted places, are a life saving intervention which will improve people’s health and help urban centres thrive. It is great news that the Scottish Government has committed to introducing LEZs in every major city in Scotland by 2020. Now we urgently need details of where the first LEZ will be otherwise the 2018 deadline promised earlier this year will not be met.

“Pedestrians and cyclists will see huge benefits from the doubling of the budget for active travel. Walking and cycling improve our health, improve air quality and cut carbon from the transport sector, and this investment signals the start of a real step change by the Scottish Government. We hope that this increased investment continues and call for the Government to ultimately spend 10% of its transport budget on walking and cycling by 2020.”

Just Transition – the Government will create a Just Transition Commission to advise Ministers on moving to a more resource-efficient and sustainable economic model in a fair way.

Dr Dixon continued:

“We warmly welcome the announcement of a Just Transition Commission for Scotland which should oversee that the changes as we decarbonise our economy are fair to all concerned. We hope it will be matched with measures to ensure employment growth in new industrial sectors and boost skills training for those affected by industrial change. The Commission must have representation from the trade unions and the environmental movement, as well as business and local government if it is to be effective.”

National Investment Bank – the Government will take steps to create a new Scottish National Investment Bank to fund long term, patient capital projects.

Dr Dixon continued:

“We’re excited to hear that that the Government is taking steps to establish a Scottish National Investment Bank. This bank could create thousands of green jobs by transforming transport, heating, housing and electricity. An effective Scottish National Investment Bank will need sufficient capital, borrowing powers and governance, and must be purposed towards the major economic challenge of our time: transforming our economy to be fit for a low-carbon future.”

Waste – the Government will introduce a Deposit and Return Scheme for drinks packaging, and hold an international conference focusing on plastics waste in the oceans, together with a new £0.5m beach clean up fund.

Dr Dixon further continued:

“Just like the plastic bag charge, a Deposit and Return Scheme will transform attitudes to packaging waste. Cracking down on the tonnes of discarded plastic which litter our beaches will be welcomed by coastal communities and tourists alike, and will help wildlife avoid major hazards to their health.”

Fracking – the Government intend to announce a decision, and seek parliamentary approval for it, on the future of fracking ‘in the coming weeks’ following a major consultation over the summer.

Dr Dixon said:

“It is also good news that the Scottish Government intend to announce a decision on fracking in the coming weeks. Over 60,000 people responded to the consultation on the future of the industry, the vast majority calling for a ban. We urge the Scottish Government to do the right thing and establish a full ban in law to stop fracking from going ahead, protecting communities and nature across the central belt.”

Notes to Editors

The 2017/18 Programme for Government can be found at http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2017/09/8468

Friends of the Earth has been calling for the phase out of diesel and petrol vehicles as part of our campaign around the new Climate Change Bill: https://foe.scot/campaign/climate-action/

The Scottish Government had previously committed to one Low Emission Zone by the end of 2018. Air pollution claims 2,500 lives in Scotland each year. More at: https://foe.scot/campaign/air-pollution/

‘Just Transition’ – Friends of the Earth is calling for the Climate Change Bill to enshrine a commitment that the ways in which a low-carbon economy will be achieved will enhance social justice, protect livelihoods and create a fairer and more equal Scotland – that the transition will be a Just Transition. More at: https://foe.scot/just-transition-scotland-climate-strategy/

Fracking – around 60,000 people and organisations have responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on fracking and unconventional fossil fuels. A decision from the Government is expected in the autumn and will be subject to a vote in the Scottish Parliament. More at https://foe.scot/campaign/fracking/

Making our economy fit for a low-carbon future will require massive public investment. Working with Common Weal and the New Economics Foundation we developed proposals for a new Scottish Government-backed National Investment Bank.More at:  https://foe.scot/snib-sep-2017/ ‎

Friends of the Earth has campaigned for a Deposit Return System as part of the ‘Have You Got the Bottle?’ campaign www.haveyougotthebottle.org.uk

Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.