The immediate COVID-19 crisis must in no way distract us from the even bigger environmental crises that we face. Indeed, the origins of the pandemic lie in the imbalance of humanity’s interaction and degradation of the animal kingdom.
We know that it is a matter of human survival that we get this right and we know what it is we need to do. We need to stop our houses leaking heat. We need to replace fossil fuels in our energy system, including how we heat our homes. We need to stop wasting our natural resources. We need to look after our land better so soil recovers and stores carbon. We need to change our entire transport system so it isn't based on petrol products. And the use of single-use plastic must come to an end in Scotland.
This is the challenge, and it is a very big one – but it is also a great opportunity. Because we need to invest seriously in this it means we can get a very significant economic stimulus from the spending. If we do it right, we can create entirely new environmentally-friendly manufacturing industries in Scotland and it will certainly need a lot of skilled jobs to get the work done. Mitigating the climate emergency is a duty; using that to mitigate social and economic failures is a responsibility we must take just as seriously. Together, these are known as a Green New Deal.
So rich in natural and energy resources are we that few nations have more potential to set a lead in getting this all done than Scotland. Setting that lead is a duty that must sit heavily on our shoulders. But Scotland does not have nearly enough power to achieve all of this under devolution – to take the climate crisis seriously means to take independence seriously.
A nation rich in natural and energy resources must lead, not follow. The future of our environment rests on the power we have to save it. A Green New Deal can transform our future and our lives.
The time for targets is long past; the time for action is upon us.
ALBA will advocate:
- That the proposed Scottish National Renewable Corporation be given the task of creating a comprehensive plan for decarbonising our energy, including our heating and transport.
- That the proposed Scottish National Housing Company be given the task of creating a detailed plan for insulating every house in Scotland to the highest standard, publicly-funded and using Scottish-sourced renewable construction products.
- A massive improvement in Scotland's Circular Economy plan to make sure we no longer waste our precious natural resources – including investment in 'tool libraries' and deposit and reuse initiatives.
- Commissioning of a roadmap on how Scotland will electrify its transport system to make sure that ambitious targets for ending the use of petrol vehicles are not missed.
- Establishment of a National Land Agency to create a roadmap for better land use management in Scotland, including reforesting, rewilding and helping communities make better use of their surrounding land.
- Tying this all together into a coherent plan which maximises social and economic benefit by creating a Green New Deal Unit in the Scottish Government.
- And support the transition away from fossil fuels by introducing a Wellhead Production Tax on Scotland's offshore oil industry as soon as it is possible. This will replace corporation tax as the basic means of offshore taxation, and the revenues generated will be used to finance the move to carbon capture projects, the hydrogen economy and the further transition to offshore and marine renewables.