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Scotland eclipses rest of UK in green energy transition

Posted by Alison Vickers on 12 December 2018 at 4:34 pm

Previously we highlighted how Scotland created 68% of its electricity via renewable energy in 2017, making it a world leader in sourcing electricity from renewables. This figure was an increase of 26% on the year before. With many projects still awaiting completion, we argued then that it’s fair to say that the future is bright north of the border.

Recent research would suggest that this prophecy is already being fulfilled, with Scotland always seeming to be one step ahead of the game. Recently, the Scottish Government committed the country to cutting its emissions by 90% by 2050, with the rest of the UK only aiming for an 80% reduction in the same period. Similarly, the ban on selling new petrol/diesel vehicles will come into force by 2032 in Scotland, rather than the 2040 deadline set by Westminster. Last month Zero Waste Scotland revealed that in 2017, Scotch households reduced the amount of waste they produced, and recycled more than ever, resulting in the lowest carbon impacts for household waste since the Carbon Metric began measuring in 2011. A diverse range of public figures have also been keen to point out the business case for going green, highlighting how operating sustainably can be key to becoming more profitable and energy-efficient.

It is of course widely acknowledged by environmental campaigners that challenges remain for Scotland in meeting their ambitious goals. Targets for tree-planting and peatland restoration have been missed repeatedly. Many have suggested that the nation should commit to reducing emissions by 100% by 2050, if the 2015 Paris Agreement is to be adhered to.

Yet it’s fair to say that Scotland is currently leading the way in policy commitment compared to the rest of the UK. This begs the question of what can the rest of the union learn from the Scottish example?

There is clearly a strong will for green energy adoption from amongst the public throughout Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The UK Government’s 25th survey of the Energy and Climate Change Public Attitudes Tracker (PAT) revealed that individual backing for the use of renewable energy had reached a record of 85% - the highest level of support for renewables since the tracker began in 2012.  It also reported the joint-lowest figure for people against green energy technology.  

An obvious way forward would be for all countries within the union to match the Scottish Government’s policy commitments. Although these policies are by no means perfect, they’re surely the UK’s best shot at a green future. Such a shift would improve urban air quality, business and employment opportunities and commitment to climate change targets. As Ørsted’s Green Energy Barometer illustrates, renewable energy can even influence feelings of patriotism and national pride at leading the way in sustainability.

Holyrood have effectively produced an ambitious set of policies which despite their faults, can act as a blueprint for change. As author Norman Vincent Peale once said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”.

 

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About the author: Alison joined The National Energy Foundation in 2017 as a Households and Communities Project Officer. With a BA in English and Politics and an MA in Environmental Politics from Keele University, Alison plays a key role in the delivery of the Better Housing Better Health service andGawcott Solar - two charitable projects coordinated by The Foundation. 

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