Green Party calls for more government commitment to warm homes

Aileen McLeod
Aileen McLeod

The Scottish Green Party has described yesterday’s ministerial statement on Scotland’s greenhouse gas emission targets as a missed opportunity to show real commitment to energy efficient housing as part of efforts to tackle climate change and fuel poverty.

Published yesterday, the latest report on the country’s progress towards its annual targets confirmed that Scotland missed its 2013 target, though the report puts this down to “successive revisions to the Scottish greenhouse gas inventory since the time at which the Climate Change targets were set”.

Climate change minister Aileen McLeod praised progress made so far and called for the public to give their views on what more can be done to tackle climate change.

Dr McLeod said: “In just a matter of weeks international leaders will meet in Paris to agree a new, legally binding climate change agreement. It is fair to say that our future, and that of generations to come, depends on a successful outcome. Climate change affects all of us, so there is a responsibility on all of us to act.

“But Scotland’s world-leading climate change legislation requires even greater reductions by 2050, as well as action to make up for the fixed annual targets we would have met, had it not been for successive increases to the baseline since the targets were established.

“The Scottish Government has pledged £1 billion over two years for climate change action and has put in place a comprehensive package of policies and proposals to meet our targets. But reducing emissions can only be achieved through action by all of us, not just the government.

“I would like to pay tribute to the action on climate change being taken by individuals, families, communities, businesses and other organisations right across Scotland. But we need to continue to do more and bold action will be needed in future.

“That is why, in the New Year, as part of the development of further measures to tackle climate change between now and 2032, we will be asking people across Scotland for their views on climate change and what action we can collectively take.”

Patrick Harvie
Patrick Harvie

Patrick Harvie MSP, who asked the minister to provide information on the funding and timetable for improvements in energy efficient housing planned as part of the government’s National Infrastructure Priority, said concerns over delays in these urgently needed measures were confirmed as Dr McLeod stated she was unable to provide any further detail on the government’s plans.

The MSP for Glasgow and Co-convenor of the Scottish Greens said: “We’ve heard plenty of talk from the Scottish Government on its intentions to prioritise energy efficient housing in tackling climate change, yet we continue to be kept in the dark about how the SNP plan to make homes warmer and better insulated.

“The Scottish Government have managed reductions in some areas, but household emission cuts have dragged far behind. While the SNP push back further action until after the May’s election, climate change targets remain unmet and tens of thousands of Scots are facing yet another cold winter in homes that are not fit for living.”

The greenhouse gas emission report comes as a parliamentary committee found that reducing Scotland’s energy demand will be “critical” to ensuring its energy supply in the future.

An inquiry by the Scottish Parliament’s economy, energy and tourism committee called on the Scottish Government and Ofgem to produce an energy demand reduction strategy “as a matter of urgency”.

The inquiry heard that communication with consumers had largely been ineffective to date and concluded that if consumers were to see how to save on their energy bills they would be more likely to change their behaviour.

The committee also heard evidence that those least likely to switch energy suppliers were those on low incomes, with a poor educational background or those with disabilities. Given the November 2016 target to eradicate fuel poverty, the committee is asking the Scottish and UK government what more can be done to address unfairness in the system.

Murdo Fraser
Murdo Fraser

Convener of the committee Murdo Fraser MSP said: “Reducing the demand for energy is often talked about in the context of climate change but not in the debate for ensuring we have enough electricity to keep the lights on.

“During this inquiry, we heard that the reduction of demand for energy can play a key role in increasing the resilience of our energy supply by rewarding consumer behaviour to drive changes.

“It was clear that authorities at all levels need to work harder to make it easier for people to change their behaviour. As a Committee we want to see energy reduction urgently made a priority.”

Read the full committee report.

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