Scottish Budget: Timid tinkering fails to deliver a Climate Emergency response
The Scottish Government’s climate emergency budget fails to deliver the action needed to bring down emissions, say environmental campaigners. With road transport as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in Scotland, Friends of the Earth Scotland say the proposed Budget includes next-to-nothing to transform the transport system.
The final budget, to be negotiated between the Scottish Government and opposition parties, must deliver the reduction in climate emissions that all parties backed in the recent Climate Bill. This must contain a commitment to stop new motorways, with funding diverted for councils to set up their own bus services, and increased investment in walking and cycling infrastructure.
Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Air Pollution Campaigner Gavin Thomson said:
“A climate emergency calls for an emergency response and a serious funding boost, not more timid tinkering at the edges. The Scottish Government promised a budget that would deal with the climate crisis but have failed to put their money where their mouth is.
“This budget fails to invest in the necessary changes to our transport system, which is Scotland’s largest source of climate emissions. The meagre increases in walking and cycling funding once again pale in comparison to the hundreds of millions for motorways and trunk roads. You get what you pay for and Scotland is going to get more climate pollution from road transport.
“Apart from the welcome extension of concessionary bus travel to young carers, there is nothing here to arrest the shocking decline in bus passenger numbers. Scottish towns and cities are trailing behind European counterparts, with a car-dominated transport system that is choking our lungs and harming the planet.
“As budget negotiations begin, opposition parties must prioritise investments that will bring down emissions and press the Government to halt motorway spending, diverting the cash saved into improving our bus network. Increasing access to free bus travel, and helping councils wishing to run their own bus services can boost public health, connectivity and tackle climate change.
“One of the only sources of encouragement was the proposal to invest in heat pump and renewable heat network technologies of the future – backing up their commitment to move away from fossil fuel heating. However, we hope the final budget rules out using public money to explore how the fossil fuel industry can be propped up by hydrogen, which risks undermining the benefits this creates.”
Notes to Editors
1. This is in response to the Scottish Government’s budget, published today (6/02/20) here: https://www.gov.scot/binaries/content/documents/govscot/publications/publication/2020/02/scottish-budget-2020-21/documents/scottish-budget-2020-21/scottish-budget-2020-21/govscot%3Adocument/scottish-budget-2020-21.pdf
2. Earlier this week, Friends of the Earth Scotland urged the Government to divert funding from new motorway projects to sustainable transport in today’s budget. https://foe.scot/press-release/reckless-road-spending-plans-must-be-redirected-in-climate-emergency/
3. Friends of the Earth Scotland also published a briefing, circulated to parties, with a set of budget demands: https://foe.scot/resource/a-greener-scottish-budget/
4. The Scottish Government claimed last week that they deliver a Budget prioritising the climate emergency. https://news.gov.scot/news/delivering-a-green-budget
5.The 2017 Greenhouse Gas Emissions statistics show road transport is the biggest emitter in Scotland (p.19). https://www.gov.scot/binaries/content/documents/govscot/publications/statistics/2019/06/scottish-greenhouse-gas-emissions-2017/documents/scottish-greenhouse-gas-emissions-2017/scottish-greenhouse-gas-emissions-2017/govscot%3Adocument/scottish-greenhouse-gas-emissions-2017.pdf
6. Friends of the Earth Scotland recently published data showing 7 locations in Scotland are still breaching legal air quality legal limits, ten years after they should have been met.
7. It is estimated that air pollution costs the Scottish economy over £1.1 billion each year in days lost at work and costs to the NHS. (Extrapolated from a Defra assessment that air pollution costs the UK economy as a whole £16 bn per year, based on 29,000 UK- wide deaths from air pollution: Defra, “Impact pathway guidance for valuing changes in air quality” (May 2013))
8. 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.