Commenting on the Scottish Government’s response to the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery report, published today, Friends of the Earth Scotland Head of Campaigns Mary Church said,

“The Scottish Government’s blueprint for economic recovery is a woefully inadequate response to the scale of the challenges we face from COVID-19 and the climate emergency. The so-called ‘green thread’ running through the response is little more than rhetoric with very little in the way of concrete new commitments that would truly centre a just transition to a zero carbon economy.

“It’s disappointing that the Government has not taken this opportunity to adopt the recent recommendations of the Just Transition Commission including a large scale fossil fuel decommissioning programme, public investment in renewable manufacturing facilities, buying fleets of green buses for local authorities and doubling energy efficiency budgets.

“We are alarmed by the intention to review permitted development rights and urge the Scottish Government not to follow the UK Government in ripping up the planning rulebook to rush through controversial applications against community wishes.

“However we wholeheartedly welcome the commitment to embed an equalities and human rights approach across economic recovery policy development. We urge parties across the political spectrum to back this by supporting the incorporation of human rights into Scots’ Law, recognising that the right to a healthy and safe environment underpins all other rights, as has been so brutally exposed by the pandemic.”

The Scottish Government has indicated that further steps on the recovery from COVID-19 will be announced in the Programme for Government in the coming weeks. Church continued:

“If the Government were to double the amount of funding for energy efficiency programmes and invest in building new renewable heat networks, new permanent walking and cycling routes and giving people the skills needed for the zero carbon economy it would create thousands of much-needed jobs right across Scotland while cutting our climate emissions.

“Immediate action is required to review all Government spending and align budgets with a Just and Green Recovery, while creating thousands of decent green jobs right across the country and the economy. This must be backed up with a new Economic Strategy that puts wellbeing and environment above goals of growth, that drives change through public ownership and sets long term goals for a fair and fossil free economy.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland have been working as part of ‘Just and Green Recovery Scotland’, a campaign backed by over 80 organisations in Scotland, who have called for a radical response to the coronavirus recovery that puts people before profit.

In a letter to the First Minister on 31st May, the groups said now was the time to move away from the prioritisation of economic growth and towards goals of wellbeing and sustainability.

Notes to Editors

1. The Scottish Government’s response is available at https://news.gov.scot/news/rebuilding-better

The report ‘A Blueprint for Scotland’s Wellbeing Economy’ https://www.gov.scot/publications/blueprint-scotlands-wellbeing-economy/

2. FoES reaction to Advisory Group (22/6/20) https://foe.scot/press-release/report-fails-to-chart-path-to-a-greener-fairer-scotland-for-all/

3. FoES reaction to the Just Transition Commission recommendations for a green recovery (30/7/20) https://foe.scot/press-release/commissions-report-fraction-of-what-needed-just-green-recovery/

4. Free to use print quality photos of socially distanced protest by key workers outside Scottish Government HQ in Edinburgh (22/6/20). https://flic.kr/s/aHsmNZSeyv

5. The Just & Green Recovery campaign letter to the First Minister from 80+ groups set out five steps to ensure a fairer, greener recovery. They called on Scottish Government to:
• Provide essential public services for people, not profit.
• Protect marginalised people and those on low incomes by redistributing wealth.
• Provide new funds to transform our society and economy to meet Scotland’s Fair Share of climate emissions cuts and greatly enhance biodiversity.
• Strengthen democracy and human rights during these crises.
• Offer solidarity across borders by proactively supporting an international response to Coronavirus and climate emergency

6. New homes to get ‘automatic’ permission in England planning shake-up https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-53625960

7. 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 some 5,000 local activist groups.