IT is nice to finally draw breath at the end of 2017, which will forever be known in Panda Towers (also known as the WWF Scotland office) as Consultageddon. This year we asked for and had hundreds of pages of Scottish Government consultations on everything from huge strategic visions of the country’s energy and climate change future to technical regulation on heat networks. The two centrepieces of this mammoth burst of activity were the draft Energy Strategy and the draft Climate Change plan, both supposed to give strategic direction to the profound changes that will shape our energy landscape over the next decade and beyond. Next week, we should know the outcome of our collective efforts with the publication of the final Energy Strategy. Has the Government listened to what the energy industry, academics and campaigners said? Does it assert enough leadership to make the low-carbon transition real or does it still cling on to some of the last vestiges of old, polluting ways? The draft strategy offered lots of promise and was more integrated and ambitious than previous energy road maps. In particular, the flagship commitment to deliver 50 per cent renewable energy across the entire economy in heat, transport and electricity by 2030 was significant. This welcome target provides clear direction to industry and, as WWF evidence shows, it is both necessary to deliver our climate targets and achievable with existing technology. In uncertain times for investment, it is a statement of intent that Scotland is open for low-carbon business. It builds on the aim to deliver 100 per cent of our electricity needs from renewables by 2020. It will surely remain in the final document. Some weaknesses need to be addressed in the final strategy. There were outdated intentions to maximise oil and gas extraction and possibly replace old thermal power stations, which go against the grain of the energy transition and the need to tackle climate change. This week, the World Bank announced it would stop funding oil and gas extraction projects from 2019 for climate reasons. Despite the right intentions to consider supply and demand for energy, demand was the ugly sister in the strategy with weak ambition and little substantive action.
Herald 15th Dec 2017 read more »