The Scottish Government has unveiled it’s legislative programme for the year, entitled Protecting Scotland’s future. The manifesto is wide-ranging but has a strong focus on efforts to tackle climate change, putting the transition to net-zero emissions at the heart of the Scottish National Investment Bank’s work.

The Scottish government has pledged to ensure that, by 2024, all new homes must use renewable or low-carbon heat. The new policy package has been widely welcomed across the UK’s green economy, including by the Committee on Climate Change. There will also be a £17m fund to support the demand for ultra-low emission vehicles and an expansion of the Low Carbon Transport Loan Scheme to include electric vehicles.

The Scottish government said it would seek to unlock additional resources for emissions-reducing investment through a Green Growth Accelerator combining public and private investment to transform cities and regions and would bring forward a £3 billion portfolio of projects, including renewables, waste and construction, ready for green finance investment. In response to the acknowledgement of the climate emergency, the programme sets out some of the next steps on Scotland’s journey to net-zero emissions and raises its ambitious pledges to date. We are leading the world in setting challenging targets, but we must also redouble our efforts to meet them.

The legislative programme also pledges to:

• Achieve zero emissions from Highland and Islands Airports Limited’s operations, with trials set to begin on low or zero-emission flights in 2021.

• Reduce emissions from Scotland’s railways to zero by 2035 through the continued electrification of the network, the procurement of battery-powered trains and exploration of the potential of hydrogen-powered trains in Scotland.

• support Scotland’s people to gain the skills they need to carry out this work through a Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan.

The commitment to ensuring all new homes use renewable or low-carbon heat will be achieved through a fundamental overhaul in building regulations that will increase energy efficiency and the efficiency of construction from 2021, and will be accompanied by a £30 million investment in renewable heat projects. The programme has been widely welcomed across the UK and is one that should be mirrored across the globe. Over this summer, we have seen extreme weather events across Europe that will become more and more common if we fail to rise to the global challenge. The consequences of global climate change will be severe. Whilst in some parts of the world its effects are existential, we will also feel the impact here in the UK. We simply must act and Scotland really is leading the way.

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