Budget ‘should have been bolder on climate change’

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THE SCOTTISH Government should have had bolder climate ambitions in its budget, Scottish Labour have claimed.

Claudia Beamish MSP said the SNP did not go far enough to tackle fuel poverty, energy efficiency or creating skilled green jobs in the financial statement set out last week.

The Scottish Labour environment spokeswoman said the SNP had chosen to re-announce pledges on a Low Carbon Fund, Green Jobs Fund and a Green Jobs Workforce Academy rather than making firm commitments to kickstart a green recovery.

Ms Beamish said: “The SNP Government had an opportunity to do so much more. With the eyes of the world on Scotland’s climate action this year, a bolder budget could have delivered action for warmer homes, green jobs and climate recovery.

“Action on the climate emergency cannot be stalled as we deal with the health and economic crises. The recovery from lockdown must be just and work to urgently reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Today, 613,000 households are in fuel poverty in Scotland with 311,000 in extreme fuel poverty. Given the scale of unmet need, the current budget is far less than experts suggest is required to tackle fuel poverty in Scotland.

“This investment should be doubled to at least £244 million for the coming year to see a step change in energy efficiency activity, with a focus on early action on retrofitting to secure local jobs, prevent rising long-term costs, and tangibly improving the lives of people living in fuel poverty.”

It comes as the Scottish Government highlighted the green elements of the budget, claiming a record £1.9bn was being invested in tackling climate change and creating green jobs.

Holyrood officials pointed to spending plans announced by finance Secretary Kate Forbes last week to spend £1.6billion to “transform hear and energy efficiency of buildings”.

It is claimed the investment will support up to 5000 jobs and help tackle fuel poverty in Scotland.

The budget also included plans for a £250m peatland restoration programme, and £70million to improve waste and recycling infrastructure across the country.

Scottish Government Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:”This is a Budget which rightly focuses on tackling the COVID-19 crisis and supporting our people, health service and economy in the immediate term, but it also lays the foundations to rebuild a fairer, stronger, and greener Scotland.

“Our commitment to ensuring Scotland’s recovery from COVID-19 is green has been prioritised despite the significant financial challenges of COVID-19, delays to the UK Budget, the UK Government Spending Review worsening our capital position and key powers remaining reserved to Westminster.

“2021 is a vital year for climate action and COP26 in Glasgow puts Scotland at the centre of a global to protect our people and planet.”

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