Nicola Sturgeon should spearhead a new taskforce to turbocharge the drive towards a “green recovery” from the pandemic, a group of MSPs has said.
The proposal is among a raft of measures put forward by Holyrood’s environment committee to ensure that action to tackle the climate crisis is at the heart of everyone’s agenda in Scotland.
The MSPs criticised the Scottish Government’s current level of spending on low carbon schemes, as they demanded a transformation in they way projects are prioritised.
Meanwhile, ministers were told that they should produce a “route map” with clear responsibilities for each sector, and that legislation should be reviewed so that every public body is legally required to act.
What are some of the measures being put forward?
Under the plan, the first minister would lead the efforts by chairing a new “green recovery group”, which would replace two existing ministerial bodies looking at climate change and sustainable development.
Public spending and investment should also be “aligned to the delivery of strategic goals on green recovery, climate change and the ecological crisis”, according to the report.
An additional £200 million currently set aside for low carbon funding commitment in the Scottish budget next year was said to “fall short of the level of investment commensurate with the demands of securing a green recovery.”
The government’s £24 billion infrastructure investment plan was also criticised by the committee, because only 36% of the projects were considered low carbon, which was described as “significantly too low”.
Pension funds, procurement policies, City Region Deals and community land ownership were all highlighted as other potential avenues to secure change.
Scottish ministers were urged to work with their UK Government counterparts in order to “co-ordinate and finance a sufficiently large investment stimulus”.
Yet through Covid, Scotland has seen first-hand how a coherent route-map approach, combined with strong leadership, can affect the necessary change in our policies and behaviour and with the urgency needed.”
Gillian Martin MSP
Gillian Martin, the Aberdeenshire East MSP and committee convener, said: “The cross-cutting nature of the challenges presented by Covid-19 and the climate and ecological crisis represents a whole system challenge never witnessed before.
“Yet through Covid, Scotland has seen first-hand how a coherent route-map approach, combined with strong leadership, can affect the necessary change in our policies and behaviour and with the urgency needed.
“Scotland must use this impetus, and the opportunities presented in both the Budget 2021-22 and the Climate Change Plan update, to create a net-zero emissions economy.”
She added: “So much needs to be done and done now. We need to capture and lock in positive behaviours, front-load investment in low-carbon solutions and build resilience through valuing nature more.
“We need to tackle the implementation gap, where solutions have already been identified but not applied, and deal with policy incoherence, where parts of government, and the wider public sector, are not working collaboratively.”