Environmental campaigners have welcomed the Scottish Programme for Government saying that its focus on green jobs was welcome progress.

They cautioned that there was no need to delay many of these good policies and work should instead get underway immediately to tackle the twin economic and climate crises.

Key environmental policies in the PfG include:

  • £1.6 billion in heat and energy efficiency in our homes and buildings over 5 years
  • Confirmation of the delay to Low Emission Zones until 2022
  • £100 million Green Jobs Fund
  • Consulting again on a single-use cups charge
  • £100million active travel annual spending maintained
  • Grangemouth Future Industry Board in 2020
  • 100,000 jobs potential from Inward Investment Strategy
  • Consulting on a a £5 million Carbon Capture and Utilisation Challenge Fund

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Director Dr Richard Dixon said:

“Today’s new focus on creating much needed green jobs is welcome progress from the Scottish Government, but it needs to be followed with rapid action to ensure it becomes more than rhetoric.

“The Scottish Government has shown that they know that the future must be greener, safer and fairer but the economic and climate crises demands that we start that work today. Long-term commitments to creating green jobs in areas like energy efficiency are really good news, but we should not wait until the next Parliament to make them a reality.

By taking concrete steps in the coming months to deliver their Green Jobs commitment, the Government will help ensure that we have warmer homes, reductions in climate pollution and new jobs across the country.”

Just Transition/ Green Jobs Fund/ National Transition Training Fund

“It is welcome that the National Transition Training Fund will be made quickly available to support those facing redundancy or unemployment. Nonetheless, while the First Minister spoke at length about the positives of green industry and opportunities available, we need to see far more to turn Just Transition rhetoric into reality.

“For workers at Alexander Dennis or CS Wind, a commitment to create a Green Jobs Fund over the next five years will be of little comfort, while the overall suggestion of 100,000 jobs across the next decade is far too reliant on a continuation of the same ‘market knows best’ approach that has so far failed to deliver for Scotland’s green economy.

“While today’s announcement contained much needed new investment, it has failed to set a decisive new economic model that prioritises people and planet. Most notably, it is disappointing to see no mention of the Publicly Owned Energy Company, which could be driving a Just Transition through new renewable projects and heat networks across Scotland.

“The £32bn of spending over five years to be detailed in the Infrastructure Investment Plan is a chance to rectify the missed opportunity today. To ensure every penny is focused on delivering a Just Transition, this funding must come with a clear commitment to the green economy and a guarantee of decent, green jobs.

Transport

“Transport is the most polluting part of Scottish life yet we are still not seeing the step change that we need to change the way we move around, to reduce climate emissions and make our air safe to breathe. This can only be achieved by investing in and prioritising public transport, walking, and cycling.

Low Emission Zones / Air Pollution

Scottish Government confirmed that full LEZs introduction will be delayed until 2022.

“There is a growing evidence base on the links between air pollution and vulnerability to Covid-19. Pollution from traffic causes and exacerbates many of the heart and lung conditions that put people at heightened risk from the virus.

“The Low Emission Zones committed to in the 2017 Programme for Government have still not been introduced, and today it was confirmed that people will be waiting until 2022 for cleaner air. Delaying action on air pollution by 5 years is not acceptable when we know it disproportionately harms childrens’ development.

“The Government must announce how the delay to the LEZs will be used to strengthen the schemes, including expanding the size of the zones and introducing higher emissions standards.”

Cycling funding

“The £500m funding for walking and cycling announced today sounds impressive until we remember that Scottish Government had already committed £100m for this year. Today’s announcement locks in the current funding level for the duration of the next Parliament, when we actually need to be increasing support for walking and cycling every year.

“Research has shown that investment in active travel can create up to 18,000 Green Jobs, the Scottish Government must commit to delivering increased active travel funding as a matter of urgency through supporting local authorities to make temporary infrastructure permanent.”

Buses

“The £500m fund for bus prioritisation measures – such as bus lanes on main roads – announced last year has not been progressed. Instead there is a small £10m fund for temporary measures, and no mention of the remaining £490 million.

“The priority with public transport must be the safety of workers and passengers but we can’t continue bailing out bus companies that the public has no control over. People will be asking why services are being cut across the country while the Scottish Government hands over tens of millions of pounds to bus companies.

“It’s time for more public control of our buses so that we can arrest the fall in passenger numbers that was underway long before Covid-19 and instead run them as the essential public service they are”.

Plastic & Circular Economy

The Scottish Government is consulting again on a single-use cups charge, the previous consultation as part of the now delayed Circular Economy Bill showed over 80% support of the idea.

“With the Circular Economy Bill having been delayed due to coronavirus, the Scottish Government needs to recommit itself to the work of the Bill to reduce our vast overconsumption of natural resources and therefore cut climate pollution.”

“While announcements on increased charges for carrier bags and single-use disposable cups are a welcome step, the public in Scotland has shown that they already overwhelmingly support charging for single-use cups. It’s not clear why the Scottish Government wants to repeat the consultation process, delaying action that would reduce the estimated 200 million cups used each year.

“In order to transform our attitude towards single-use products and truly tackle the plastic crisis, we need the Scottish Government to take more action on environmentally harming products including a full ban on single-use items under EU’s Single Use Plastic Directive.”

Scottish National Investment Bank

“Our new public bank should be using this £2 billion in capital to positively shape our economy for the future, turning away from a business-as-usual approach instead prioritising people and planet in the shift to a zero-carbon economy.

“With its proposed mission to target finance towards a Just Transition this Bank should be creating thousands of green jobs while tackling fuel poverty, expanding renewables supply chain, decarbonising our heating and financing zero carbon transport.”

False solutions / Carbon Capture and Storage / Hydrogen

“The Scottish Government must not be fooled by the false solutions and false promises of the fossil fuel industry who are demanding public money for high risk technologies like Carbon Capture or fossil-fuelled hydrogen.

“CCS is a risky and expensive technology that locks us into fossil fuels and distracts from climate solutions that we know work. The Scottish Government must stop throwing money at the fossil fuel companies who are speeding us towards climate breakdown.”

“Building an entire new hydrogen network in Scotland would support continuing fossil fuel use. The Scottish Government should focus on improving accessible, affordable public transport networks and domestic heating powered by renewable electricity – not by new fuels made from fossil fuels.”


Notes to Editors

Programme for Government in Scotland is available at https://www.gov.scot/publications/protecting-scotland-renewing-scotland-governments-programme-scotland-2020-2021/

Friends of the Earth Scotland had previously proposed a 10 step plan of activity to put the creation of good green jobs at the heart of the Programme for Government.

 Highlights of the plan included:

  • a programme of public green job creation
  • a skills map to identify and provide the training needed for the zero-carbon economy
  • a review of public spending to shift budgets away from polluting projects and
  • a ban on public money for fossil fuel developments.

foe.scot/10-steps-green-jobs-recovery/

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.