LOW CARBON ECONOMY CENTRAL TO GREEN MANIFESTO – Lothians communities set to benefit

The Scottish Green Party will today (Tuesday 3rd April) launch its manifesto for the 2007 Holyrood election, and will centre on the employment and quality of life opportunities a low carbon economy holds for Scotland.(1)

The party will set out a vision of a sustainable Scotland, driven by strong local economic networks and high-tech industries.

Top Lothians candidates Robin Harper and Mark Ballard will argue that Scotland is uniquely well-placed to make the shift to a low carbon economy. Our historic expertise in areas like
ship-building and electronics will be vital, as will our extraordinary natural assets: notably wind, wave and tidal energy.

Greens will pledge a £100m Climate Challenge Fund to support imaginative community plans across the country, schemes designed to make radical cuts in emissions and boost local jobs at the same time.

In contrast, the Labour and Libdem Executive has been humiliated by an independent report which had been buried by Ministers for months. The Executive has finally just released it setting out exactly where its own policies have failed over the last eight years – a so-called “Policy Gap Analysis”. (2) The review was ready for publication last year, and the delay allowed Labour and the Libdems to avoid scrutiny in Parliament. However, the election campaign provides an ideal opportunity for that scrutiny.

On the economic prospects, the report states that:

“The main gap in the current strategy is the lack of a structured and systematic assessment of the potential for economic growth in areas of low carbon technology.” – Scottish Executive Policy Gap Analysis, p.5

Greens could not agree more. The report also states that the Executive has a “relatively poor track record on implementing successful pilot projects / demonstration projects for new technologies.” – p.69 The Executive’s ‘green jobs’ startegy is also criticised for lacking
coherence.

Again, Greens agree. This Executive has stifled innovation, and provided only limited and intermittent support for green technologies. Greens believe their Climate Challenge Fund can help fill exactly this gap in current Executive thinking, by demonstrating how low carbon, high employment, local economies can be built.

Speaking ahead of the manifesto launch in Edinburgh, Robin Harper, Greens co-leader and top candidate for Lothians, said:

“Scots know that the Greens are the only party that puts the environment first. What they may not realise is that moving to a low carbon economy is not just good for the planet, it’s also good for jobs.

“We intend to campaign throughout the election on the massive economic opportunities that are ready to be taken across Scotland. We have a history of success in both heavy engineering and high tech industries, and both will have a crucial role to play, especially in the development of renewables.”

Mark Ballard, second Green candidate on the regional list, said, “The costs are clear if the Executive sticks to its current policies – policies they themselves admit are inadequate. The other parties don’t get it. If you want a better Scotland, built on green jobs and the
industries of the future, you’ll have to first vote Green on the 3rd of May.”

ENDS

For further information call 07921 333 617 or 07909 933 074. Alternatively email press@scottishgreens.org.uk

Notes to editors

1.      The manifesto photocall will be held outside Our Dynamic Earth, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, at 9.30 am on Tuesday 3 April, and the launch event will follow at 10am. The manifesto will be available online from the party’s website, and print copies are also available on request.

2.      The Executive report on their climate failure is available online here:
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/921/0048533.pdf

The report highlights air travel as one of the major gaps in policy. “Emissions are rising fast,” it says. “There are currently no mechanisms governing the combustion of aviation fuels.”

Road policies come under fire for failing to consider pollution. “None of the environmental impact considerations found on the Transport Scotland website for major road developments mentioned greenhouse gas implications.”

The biggest policy gap identified is the failure to reduce pollution from land use like farming and forestry, which make up a fifth of Scotland’s emissions. This has been “largely overlooked”, the report says, with only “very limited” measures applied.

On renewable energy and other low-carbon technologies, a “relatively poor track record on implementing successful pilot projects”.

The Executive has also suffered from a “lack of joined-up thinking between government agencies and industrial sectors” and a “poor understanding of the specific technologies and areas where Scotland can develop real competitive advantage and international reputation.”

Measures to support the use of wood to produce heat have been “weak”. Efforts to save energy in homes are another gap, according to the report. “The domestic sector has not engaged fully enough in the reduction of greenhouse gases through voluntary or mandatory mechanisms.”

The Executive’s “green jobs strategy” is also criticised  “the lack of a structured and systematic assessment of the potential for economic growth in areas of low carbon technology.”

Go to www.scottishgreens.org.uk for more information about the Scottish Green Party and the work of the Scottish Green MSPs.