Responding to the Climate Emergency
- £150m invested improving cycling and walking infrastructure
- Almost 450,000 of young people benefitting from free bus travel
- Brought ScotRail into public ownership
Climate change is the most significant global crisis we collectively face, and this Government is committed to accelerating Scotland's response to the climate emergency. The Scottish Government's platform at COP26, held in Glasgow, was used amplify voices of those worst affected by climate change and often marginalised in climate change discussions, connecting them with global decision makers and supporting their participation in the conference. The Government also focused on doing what it could to mobilise increased international action as the first developed nation to pledge finance for loss and damage.
The commitments in the Bute House Agreement represent a step change in our support for active travel. In March 2022, the Minister for Active Travel, Patrick Harvie, announced record funding of £150 million for active travel in 2022-23. This includes more than doubling the funding for the National Cycle Network, increasing the Cycling, Walking and Safer Routes budget, which is paid to local authorities, from nearly £24 million to £35 million, a continuation of the pilot to provide free bikes for all children of school age who cannot afford them and the launch of a review of how Active Travel is delivered in Scotland.
Rail plays a key role in helping to meet climate change targets and cut transport emissions. ScotRail was brought back into public ownership in April 2022 which presents a real opportunity to deliver a railway which is for the whole nation, and fully focused on being run for the benefit of its users. Enhancement projects committed to as a result of the Agreement will see railway lines transformed to accommodate quieter, more environmentally friendly electric trains, whilst increasing capacity of services and improving network resilience.
In January, free bus travel for under 22s was launched. As well as reducing the cost of living for young people, this is helping make public transport a more attractive option. Since the launch of the scheme on 31 January 2022, over 17.5 million free journeys have been made.
The draft second Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2) was published, which sets out recommendations for the next 20 years. STPR2 is an important tool for achieving the Government's commitment to a 20% reduction in car kilometres by 2030 and contributing to Scotland's net zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2045.
Scotland needs to decarbonise how we heat our homes and buildings and make them more energy efficient to help end our contribution to climate change and cut the cost of energy for households in Scotland. The Resource Spending Review committed £1.8 billion to deliver the Heat in Buildings Strategy over the next five years which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Scotland's homes, workplaces and community buildings and help ensure that poor energy efficiency is removed as a driver of fuel poverty. The £300 million Heat Networks Fund was established in March 2022 and will support the development and roll out of zero emission heat networks. To ensure new buildings are supporting the transition to net-zero, plans have been set out in the New Building Heat Standard consultation that will mean direct emissions heating systems, such as those powered by fossil fuel, would no longer be installed in any homes and non-domestic buildings from April 2024. This follows an immediate end to support for oil and LPG boilers in our Heat in Buildings Delivery programmes that the Scottish Government introduced in September 2021.
While oil and gas has played a significant role in Scotland's recent energy past, the future lies with renewables and the unlimited extraction of fossil fuels is incompatible with protecting the planet from the worst impacts of climate change. The last year has seen the award of lease option agreements for up to 25 GW of offshore wind energy, including 15GW of floating offshore wind. We have consulted on an ambition that an additional 8-12 GW of onshore wind be installed by 2030 and set out plans to develop a world leading green hydrogen industry. Seizing the opportunities of low carbon energy development across Scotland is a major focus of the Scottish Government and Scottish Green Party and increasing Scotland's renewable energy generating capacity and securing accompanying jobs and investment will be central to our work over the rest of the parliamentary term.
Work is underway as part of the Bute House Agreement on developing a draft energy strategy and Just Transition Plan, which will be published later this year ahead of a public consultation. The Scottish Government and the Scottish Green Party have together opposed licensing of fossil fuel extraction in the North Sea without rigorous climate assessment, including those fields already licensed, but where drilling has not commenced. Further analysis, as part of the Bute House Agreement, and announced by the First Minister ahead of COP26, is being carried out to better understand our energy requirements as we transition to net zero. The work, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year, is also assessing how these requirements align with our climate change targets and the goal of the Paris agreement to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.
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