Paths for All, RSPB Scotland, Sustrans Scotland, Turn Scotland & WWF Scotland to express their “deep concern” to the Scottish Ministers in a joint message.
They cautioned that planned expenditure on transport could prevent Scotland from meeting its aim of achieving net zero emissions by 2045.
The group of organizations fears that, as it stands, the Scottish government’s infrastructure investment programme is “deeply inadequate” when it comes to reducing transport sector pollution.
Colin Howden, Director of Transform Scotland, said the new budget plan includes “a lot of window dressing about future decisions on transport investment following climate priorities.”
He claimed that in order to achieve the required ‘deep cuts’ in transport emissions, it is necessary to focus investment away from road expenditure.
In sending an open letter to Minister Michael Matheson of Transport and Infrastructure, Transform Scotland joined WWF Scotland, RSPB Scotland, Sustrans Scotland and Pathways for All.
In it, they told him, “Surface transport remains one of Scotland’s largest contributors to climate change, accounting for 25% of all emissions.”
Although pollution reduction goals have been in place since 2009, since then emissions have increased.
“While the declaration of a climate emergency has given this issue greater urgency within government, we have yet to see a shift to a transformative approach required.”
The group claimed that “transport policy in Scotland has historically had a strong bias towards investment in carbon-intensive transport infrastructure,” such as road expenditure.
The campaigners argued that to build a more efficient transport system, ministers need to “shift those priorities”
They said, however, they were “extremely concerned” that the draft investment plan for infrastructure did not include the change.
As it stands, the budget plan “continues to support Transport Scotland’s multi-billion pound roads program, but does not include any new or additional funding for sustainable transport investment,” they added.
They added: “We are concerned that it will reinforce existing trends to expand road capacity and prevent us from achieving net zero traffic by 2045.”
“The Infrastructure Investment Plan does not prioritize investment in low-carbon, sustainable transport,” Mr. Howden said.
The old set of carbon-intensive road schemes, which have made transport the largest source of pollution in Scotland, continues instead.’
The strategy includes a lot of window dressing on future decisions on transport expenditure in line with climate goals. Yet it is woefully insufficient.
“To achieve deep cuts in climate emissions, we now need to see transport investment prioritized on climate change grounds.”