Sturgeon unveils ambitious green goals for Scotland

5 Sep 19

The Scottish Government has announced plans to become a country with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

It also aims to lift thousands of families out of poverty in the next year, as outlined by first minister Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland’s ambitious Programme for Government for 2019-20.

Sturgeon said she hopes the coming year will “consolidate Scotland’s position” at the forefront of fighting climate change, with “landmark policies, long in the planning” being implemented, unveiling the programme on Tuesday.

“We are now committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the latest – earlier than any other UK nation,” the first minister said.

She added: “Responding to climate change is not simply a moral obligation – it is also an economic and social opportunity.

“It provides us with an incentive to make our air cleaner, our lifestyles healthier, and our cities and landscapes more beautiful.”

Transport is responsible for more than a third of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions, Sturgeon said.

Therefore, the government will take measures to increase electric vehicle use, continue electrifying railways and begin a major investment programme (of more than £500m) in the country’s bus networks.

Sturgeon also said the trial of zero-emission flights would begin during 2021.

She said this scheme – “quite literally piloting new technology” – would be the first step in making the Highlands and Islands the world’s first zero-emission aviation region by 2040, with fully decarbonised flights and airports.

Rail services in Scotland will be decarbonised by 2035, she added. 

Additional private and public investment in the existing ‘Growth accelerator’ model, which supports public sector investment in infrastructure in an area so it promotes economic growth,  will “transform cities and regions” by funding emissions-reducing infrastructure, Sturgeon said.

She also announced 80,000 families of young children will benefit from an expansion of early years education and childcare – three and four-year-olds, and two-year-olds from poorer families, with have 30 hours a week free during the school year.

This will save parents up to £4,500 per child each year.

And eligible families with children under the age of six will be given £10 a week per child, which Sturgeon said will “lift 30,000 children out of poverty”.

She said: “This Programme for Government will reinforce Scotland’s place as a dynamic, open, innovative economy.

“And it will also help us to build a fairer society – one which is defined by our concern for the rights, dignity and wellbeing of every individual.”

Among other schemes, Sturgeon also announced: a £600m programme to provide superfast broadband to every home and business in Scotland; local authorities will be given the power to introduce ‘tourist taxes’ and first-time house buyers will be given up to £25,000 towards their deposits in a pilot scheme by December this year.

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