Reform Scotland hits out at Scottish Government’s ‘cluttered and confused’ energy strategy

Reform Scotland hits out at Scottish Government's ‘cluttered and confused’ energy strategy

Reform Scotland, a public policy institute which works to promote increased economic prosperity, opportunity for all, and more effective public services, labelled the Scottish Government’s energy strategy “cluttered and confused.”

The comments come in response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the Draft Energy Strategy & Just Transition Plan.

Its submission follows the recent publication of a report: Powering Ahead: Decarbonising Scotland’s Energy. In that briefing, the think tank argues that while Scotland excels in its use of renewables for electricity, our use of gas for heating, and oil for transport has been increasing, with the Scottish Government not going far enough, fast enough to reverse these trends.

Reform Scotland highlighted that the Draft Strategy references at least 18 other visions and strategies creating a messy policy landscape that is both confusing and near impossible to track.

It added that the demand side reads more like a wish list, as opposed to a route map detailing how important goals are to be reached and that Scotland will need a huge increase in electricity capacity. The organisation raised questions over whether we should be dismissing Small Modular Reactors so easily? Are we shutting Scotland out of new developments and investment in technology which may help us on the decarbonisation path?

Reform Scotland added that to reach net zero it is essential that we move away from fossil fuels, but we are also managing this transition at a time when there is great instability in the world. It would be a ridiculous position for Scotland to find itself in if it ends up having to import fossil fuels and losing skilled workers while simultaneously boasting about a decline in domestic production

In its response, Reform Scotland set out a number of policy suggestions including:

  • Creating a public timeline indicating all of the government’s targets and policies alongside the progress being made towards each of them, and an openness about the potential upfront costs that consumers and the public purse could face
  • Public awareness campaign advising people how to make their homes fit for the 21st century, alongside clarity of when changes will be enforced. Such transparency would also offer clarity to industry.
  • Exploring the opportunity to make other more immediate changes, such as banning new gas boilers in new buildings or new gas cookers in homes.
  • Scrapping Vehicle Excise Duty and Fuel Duty and replacing them with a pay-as-you-drive form of road pricing.

Stuart Paton, chair at H2Green and Reform Scotland associate, said: “The Scottish government has set out a clear commitment to Net Zero and the technology to deliver the goal is largely well understood. The strategic choices required need to be urgently and clearly set: the government have so far failed to do this with a muddled strategy and consultation process.

“There is a mammoth job in convincing individuals of the importance of the Net Zero commitment and the changes in lifestyle required by all of us. Without this work, including public awareness campaigns and regulation, the democratic legitimacy of the commitment is completely undermined.”

Alison Payne, Reform Scotland’s research director, added: “The Scottish Government has rightly been ambitious in its drive to NetZero. However, the public needs to have a clear understanding of what regulations are coming and when, so that they have the time and ability to make the changes necessary to their lives.

“Targets, strategies and visions themselves do not guarantee delivery and without transparent and accountable tracking of these goals, there is a danger they become worthless. At the moment, the national journey to net zero is cluttered and confused.

“Ultimately, change will not happen without regulation, enforcement and a far greater sense of urgency.

“Scotland is, and can remain, a global leader in the transition from fossil fuels to renewables. However in order to achieve it, the link between people and policy needs to be much closer than it is.”

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