Scotland’s Emission Reduction Programme

Scotland has one of the most ambitious programs in cutting its greenhouse gas emission in Europe. It plans to reduce its emissions by 42% on 1990 levels by 2020 and so far has managed 25%. Its plans include energy efficiency, planting more trees to sequestrate carbon dioxide, insisting on action to reduce emissions from vehicles and perhaps most importantly ensuring that homes are well insulated and have some form of microgeneration, like solar water heating.

Scotland’s ambition is inevitably tempered by the fact that it controls only a third of its future emissions destiny, which is the extent to which it can finance its measures itself. The Auditor General for Scotland has looked at the figures and expects that overall if Scotland reaches its 42% reduction target it will have spent between £10 and £11 billion by 2020 over a period of ten years.

Scotland is responsible for 0.07% of world greenhouse gas emissions and 8.6% of the UK’s emissions. Extrapolating its expenditure on emission control to the UK, we might conclude that the UK as a whole could reduce its emissions by 42% from 1990 levels by 2020 if it could find £120 billion to spend over a period of ten years.

£12 billion a year is not an impossible sum for the UK government to find; Scotland shows that if the will is there the money can be found without any of the damaging economic effects that are often claimed to be a consequence of emission reduction. According to my mathematics it amounts to expenditure by every person in the UK of £200 per person per year – compared with paying the BBC licence fee of £147, or the £20 billion wasted on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by UK taxpayers, and perhaps should be considered in the light of the £193 billion spent each year on benefits.

Expenditure by governments of taxpayers’ money (which is usually taxpayer’s work) has to balance short term needs with long term security. Measures that slow down climate change are measures which improve long term security and almost inevitably are incredibly cost effective in the long term.

At the moment we are living for today in the hope that tomorrow will take care of itself – which is a fond and foolish hope. As for the Scots who are not frightened to take real climate action:-

High may your proud standards gloriously wave.
Land of my high endeavour, 
Land of the shining river,
Land of my heart forever, 
Scotland the Brave.



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