Raising the White Flag on the Green Agenda

That was the week that was.

The week that Humza Yousaf’s government reached such a state that, even the media frenzy around the police charging of Peter Murrell, brought a degree of relief from a series of policy reversals culminating in the abject humiliation of the abandonment of legally enforceable climate change targets.

It was “unforgivable” to backslide on the global warming targets. How do we know this? Well Humza himself used exactly that phrase last September in a special video from New York when the UK Government engaged in a very similar retreat. Just over six months later this attack on the UK government backfired in spectacular fashion.

Now that is not something you would have done if you realised your own targets were about to go up in smoke. So we can conclude that nobody in government had even bothered to tell the First Minister swanning around the Big Apple at UN Climate Ambition Conference, that Scotland’s own greenhouse gas targets were about as credible as SNP canvass returns.

So apart from breaking a solemn obligation to do our bit to save the planet, why is this week’s retreat so important?

Well we have to rewind to 2007. The first SNP government elected that year is remembered for many things - free education, abolishing prescription charges and starting construction of the Queensferry Crossing. We had 47 MSPs in a parliament of 129 but we didn’t need a deal with the Greens to stay in power. The trick was to govern well and make sure the opposition were more scared of an election than we were!

The flagship legislation of that government was the Climate Change Act of 2009 which sailed through the Parliament unanimously. And for the next five years things all went well. By 2014 Scotland had achieved a 45.8% reduction in greenhouse emissions against the 2020 target of 42%. In other words we were FOUR per cent ahead of target, SIX years early.

That was achieved by licensing vast onshore wind farms and other renewables, often against entrenched and vigorous opposition. But it worked, and Scotland became self-sufficient in renewable electricity. Things were set fair to turn to transport, heating and carbon capture. It wouldn’t just be Glasgow which was the dear green place - it would be Scotland.

And then things went to pot. Progress ground to a halt and the climate change bandwagon was placed in reverse gear. Under the malign influence of the worst Special Advisers in Scottish Parliament history, the Sturgeon government started to issue press releases instead of building district heating systems, boasting about stretched targets instead of campaigning for carbon capture, and perpetual virtue signalling instead of building concrete progress. Nicola Sturgeon was the first in the world to declare a climate emergency, oblivious to the crisis enveloping her own policy.

It was a case of pride coming before one almighty bump but, before the chickens came home to roost, Nicola and her advisers had flown the coop, leaving hapless Humza to take the fall.

If the First Minister can take any consolation, it is that even his abject embarrassment of failing on climate change, pales in comparison with that of his Green coalition partners. We knew the Greens were as weak as water on independence. Now they have hoist the white flag on their own green agenda.

So what is to be done to regain leadership on climate change? Scotland has world experts on the things that matter for climate achievement - floating wind turbines, carbon capture, hydrogen technology and district heating planning. Bring these top people into a Climate Task Force and clear out the adolescent Ministers and their Green hangers-on.

Set these experts the task of putting Scotland back on top of the world of climate change. Put the civil service at their disposal to put their plans into action. And this time only start boasting when you have achieved something.

Keep it
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