Scotland’s climate change targets need to be backed up by funding for environmental projects in the upcoming budget, according to the Climate Emergency Response Group (CERG).
It has challenged the Scottish Government to put the climate emergency “at the heart of the Scottish budget” when it is delivered by the finance secretary.
The environmental group, which is made up of business and charity leaders, has now released a report looking at ways public spending can support Scotland’s transition to net-zero emissions by 2045.
Warning “rapid action” is required, the organisation has issued a 12-part action plan, based on Scotland spending between 1% and 2% of GDP towards hitting the emissions target.
The figure comes from the Committee on Climate Change’s conclusion of how much the UK would need to invest each year to reach net-zero.
When applied to Scottish spending, it would require an annual investment of between £1.8bn and £3.6bn.
Among the proposed policies are the creation of an agricultural fund to support low-carbon farming techniques and calls for “zero-emission cities” – funding to support city centres to be vehicle-emission free by 2030 through investment in public transport, walking, cycling, and electric vehicles.
CERG member Mike Thornton urged the Scottish Government to announce “substantial new funding, repurposing existing funds and working in partnership with private investors to fund the climate emergency response”.
Mr Thornton, who is also operations director of the Energy Saving Trust, added: “The global climate emergency should be at the heart of the Scottish Budget.
“The Scottish Government has already committed to ambitious climate targets – next steps must see funding put in place to realise these laudable goals.
“The Climate Emergency Response Group embraces the recognition of our 12 immediate actions in the Programme for Government and urges ministers to use this Scottish budget to indicate substantial new funding, repurposing existing funds and working in partnership with private investors to fund the climate emergency response.”
Daisy Narayanan, from the walking and cycling charity Sustrans, said: “Scotland’s emissions from transport have not decreased in the last 25 years and is now the biggest source of Scotland’s carbon emissions.
“Support is needed for town and city centre transformations, making walking and cycling the way to get around; the transition to e-vehicles, including public and commercial vehicles; bus priority measures, solar electricity generation on existing rooftops and more – the potential is enormous.”
Carbon management expert, professor Dave Reay from the University of Edinburgh, said: “This budget will herald in a monumental year for climate change action in Scotland.
“The eyes of the world will be on us in 2020 as Glasgow hosts the most important United Nations climate conference in history.
“In every sector we have the capacity to show the way forward, to forge a transition to net-zero emissions that is inclusive, sustainable and just.
“Our climate targets are already world-leading, now our climate action needs to match them.”