Rupert Wolfe Murray is a travel writer: THE Scottish Government is ignoring a once-in-a-century opportunity: leading the transition to a carbon-zero economy. By going along with the business-as-usual model, as perfected by Westminster, Scotland is allowing itself to be led by the charming lobbyists of big business. The SNP like to talk up their environmental credentials. Their policy says a lot about “ambition”, plenty about cutting CO2 emissions (due to the closure of two coal-fired power stations), lots of breathless news about small “pilot” projects, but nothing (that I can find) on changing the status quo. Scottish news shows a government that lacks the courage to implement its own rhetoric: The Herald reports that North Sea oil “flaring” pumps out four million tonnes of CO2 a year, and the Climate Change Committee, which advises the UK government, says that Scotland’s targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions are “fantastic” but Holyrood is unlikely to achieve them. The Scottish Government isn’t alone in ignoring the problem. A new report found that oil and gas subsidies amount to hundreds of billions of pounds a year: “Fossil fuel production subsidies – such as those used by the US, UK, Russia, China and the EU – make fossil fuel industries more profitable by reducing their costs, boosting the returns to elites and helping sustain their political power.” With a hostile press, political challenges, financial pressures, not to mention the pandemic, is it any surprise that climate change policy is left on the shelf? Surely this can be prioritised when Scotland is independent? The time for leadership is now! I would argue that now is the ideal time to stake Scotland’s claim as a global leader in climate change transition – especially with the next big climate jamboree (COP26) slated for Glasgow. Currently there is a vacancy for the top job of global leader in climate change transition. We need a national leader with the courage, conviction, focus and determination of Greta Thunberg. Someone who calls out the greenwash and token gestures of industry and government. Most citizens of the world now realise that we must change our ways if we are to avoid climate catastrophe, and all governments pay lip service to it. What’s missing is one government actively putting it into practice, to demonstrate that it is possible to aggressively take on big industry. Perhaps the most difficult challenge is for governments to tell its citizens the truth: that our way of heating, eating, dressing, and travelling is killing the planet. The good news is that each carbon-cutting alternative – such as renewable energy and vegan food – represents a sector of new business growth.
The National 14th Feb 2021 read more »