A new paper published by the Royal Society of Edinburgh has called for an urgent reset and refocus of Scotland’s climate strategy.
The report recommends that an “ambitious reset and refocus” of Scotland’s climate strategy and delivery, shifting focus onto a positive vision for urgent climate action.
It adds that the Scottish Government’s own delayed climate plan, when published, should serve as a “reality check” on any progress that has been made so far, and should contain transformative, detailed plans to mainstream the economic benefits of warmer homes, cleaner transport, modern industries, and clean energy production.
The path to net zero should be seen as a huge opportunity for growth in both social and economic terms – a “build it”, not “stop it”, agenda – according to the report.
The report was drafted following roundtable and working group discussions held both in 2022 and 2023, led by economist Andrew Wilson FRSE.
He said: “For me, it was a privilege to be closely involved with the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s roundtable and subsequent analysis of the transition to net zero, along with its potential economic benefits.
“Both the UK and Scottish Government now have an urgent opportunity to reset the policy and, we really hope, the ambition to deliver.
“Given trends in the global environment, delivering the substance of transition investment is now far more important than the symbolism of setting bold targets with no strategy or plan to meet them.
“Genuine and dedicated leadership is needed.”
The report also urges the Scottish Government to consider whether or not the 2030 interim target is a helpful milestone on the path to reaching net zero by 2045.
Scotland has an opportunity to set out a strategy for green industrial energy, the report says, which would prioritise investment in the various industries that will spring up as a result of the shift to net zero.
The report also calls for official recognition of the twin crises of the cost of living, and the financial shortfall in public sector budgets. It says that the Scottish Government should consider a cross-party approach, so Scotland can reduce its own reliance on fossil fuel markets and so that the costs and benefits of the transition to net zero are borne fairly.
As a result, the report calls for a “triple bottom line” of investor friendliness, consumer protection and protection for vulnerable groups. All policies should be developed with these three requirements well in mind – but not in competition – the report adds.