Scotland's big green ambitions

Scotland's big green ambitions

Elisa Maria Giannetto
Share
Scotland is accelerating its transition to a low-carbon economy and positioning itself as a European climate leader

Scotland is planning to cover half of its energy needs with renewable sources by 2030, reducing its dependency on fossil fuels, the Guardian reports. The new environmental agenda has a price tag of £3 billion and a rigorous calendar of actions to be carried out in various fields, from industry to mobility and housing. Currently, 47% of Scottish energy consumption is from oil drilled offshore in the North Sea, while 27% is from natural gas imports for residential use and heating. The new environmental plan would drastically reduce these figures to the benefit of renewables. The program aims to develop a substantially carbon-free energy industry and bring the proportion of low-emissions vehicles on Scotland’s roads up to 40% by 2032, but that’s not all. It also provides for the construction of dwellings equipped with innovative heating and lighting systems, hybrid public ferries and the restoration of 250,000 hectares of peatlands with the capacity to store 1.5 billion t of Co2. According to Scotland’s energy minister Paul Wheelhouse, “The final objective remains to make a significant contribution to the fight against climate change''. Scotland has already made some important achievements in this arena, for instance by reaching its 2020 target of cutting emissions by 42% six years ahead of schedule. Now the bar has been raised to 66% less Co2 over the next three years. Wheelhouse adds, ''We are proud of these achievements, but clearly there’s still work to do if we want to stay on the road to meeting our ambitious target''. Weighing on that effort is uncertainty surrounding the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. In the past, Scotland’s emissions reduction efforts have been under the auspices of the European Union’s own green energy plan for the continent. Scottish environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham told MSPs, ''The proposals represent a new level of ambition which will help maintain Scotland’s reputation as a climate leader within the international community''. Another ace up Edinburgh’s sleeve is the example set by nearby Eigg, one of the Small Isles of the Inner Hebrides. With just 80 inhabitants, its economy is largely based on tourism, but it is now recognized not only for its natural beauty but also for being the world’s first 100% green island.