The next Scottish government should establish a Net-Zero Energy Commission to provide the country with a national net-zero pathway which would bring society together as it works towards a greener future, according to industry body Scottish Renewables.
The industry body has also called for the appointment of a cabinet secretary for energy and net-zero transition, and the opening of an office of the Climate Change Committee which would provide expert tailored advice for Scotland.
Scottish Renewables manifesto, A Brighter Future: Priorities for the next Scottish Government, sets out key recommendations which the organisation believes the next government can capitalise on to improve well-being, strengthen the economy, sustain the environment and set Scotland on the path to becoming the renewable powerhouse of the world.
Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: "The challenges facing our economy and our environment have never seemed greater and this election is pivotal to the future direction of our nation. We already know that Scotland’s renewable energy industry is an incredible success story, providing 90% of our electricity and heating 387,000 of our homes.
“The economic potential is huge too, with every gigawatt that is installed 1,500 jobs are created and £133m is added to our economy. The coronavirus pandemic provides an opportunity to reap these benefits and rewrite our approach to tackling climate change to ensure that renewable energy is at the heart of our economy.
“Our manifesto recommends that the next Scottish government works with our industry to develop a Renewable Energy Economic Plan in which it should increase its 2030 renewable energy target from 50 to 60%. To achieve these ambitious goals will require changes to our planning system, which is currently a time-consuming process with outdated policies requiring renewable energy schemes to prove that they are needed.
“Our manifesto also recommends the introduction of a low-carbon assessment into the planning process to recognise net-zero as a material consideration. Renewable energy also brings significant benefits to some of our most remote regions, many of which are still reliant on the use of dirty coal, oil and LPG boilers.
“We believe the next government should phase out fossil fuel heating and urge them to establish a Rural Heat Decarbonisation Fund to support Scotland’s island and rural communities to transition to green heating systems by 2030.”
The Scottish Renewable manifesto also calls on the next Scottish government to:
- Lead a clean energy revolution by ensuring Scotland’s public sector harnesses the full solar energy potential of its buildings by 2030;
- Utilise its trade and investment powers to promote Scotland’s renewable energy skills and technologies to nations seeking a green economic recovery;
- Facilitate a just transition for Scotland’s oil and gas professionals, supply chain businesses, tradespeople and public servants and remain committed to delivering the Green Jobs Fund and National Transition Training Fund, developing the skills and expertise needed to achieve net-zero;
- Establish a Renewable Energy Skills Centre of Excellence to ensure that training and professional development remains relevant to the new innovative and emerging technologies needed to power Scotland’s net-zero journey;
- Commit to the delivery and expansion of the 46 potential heat networks identified in Scotland’s cities;
- Revise Scottish Planning Policy and building regulations to ensure new-build communities are heated by renewable sources;
- Help meet the 2GW community and locally-owned energy target by 2030 by providing non-domestic tax relief and streamlining all funding and support into the Community and Renewable Energy Scheme;
- Accelerate existing low-carbon transport plans by expanding electric bicycle hire stations, zero-emissions zones and by building Scotland’s green hydrogen economy to provide transport fuel.
Mack continued: “The recommendations set out in our manifesto can help our environment flourish, strengthen our economy and benefit every community across our nation; city, town, rural and island. Scotland needs a vibrant renewable energy sector, and it’s vital that Scotland’s politicians support it.”