With 25% of Europe’s wind energy potential, including massive offshore as well as onshore wind power capabilities, and a quarter of Europe’s tidal resource, Scotland is well placed to take advantage of renewable energy. But Scotland also has massive amounts of North Sea oil and gas on its books, some of which is now struggling to remain economic. How will the SNP reconcile the need to divest from oil and rapidly and equitably develop Scotland’s significant renewable resources?
1. Does your party’s climate policy accept the urgency of the evidence as defined by the recent 5th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report, and if implemented, how will it avoid the crucial 2°C average global temperature rise?
Whilst we could find no direct references to any specific climate science, they will push for the UK to adopt Scotland’s carbon reduction targets. Their stated goal is to reduce emissions by 42% by the end of the decade, with annual targets and a minimum of 80% reduction by 2050.
[Score: OK, it’s clearly in there but the sense of urgency for action is not mentioned]
2. How does your party’s policy take into account the historical legacy of UK carbon emissions?
Again no direct reference to the historic legacy, but they are planning on starting a climate justice fund and will call on the UK government to do the same.
[Score: Mixed – the climate justice fund will be used to support developing countires in the fights against climate change but it would be good to see clearer evidence based targets.
3. How does your party’s policy reflect the leadership required to catalyse an agreement at the UN FCCC negotiations in Paris 2015?
The SNP will ensure that both Scotland and the UK play a constructive role at the UN climate talks. Although they don’t say what they would do.
[Score: Poor, this is an important global milestone and if we are to elect a party to represent us the voters need to know what they are planning]
4. Does your party’s climate policy recognise that there are already more fossil fuels on the books of the big energy companies that we can safely burn – so adding more simply makes the problem worse?
Well – with so much North Sea oil and gas on their books, it’s a tricky one. The SNP will continue their strategy on North Sea oil and gas (a combination of tax reliefs and allowances) and look for ways to maximise the economic opportunitythey offer. They will continue to support a moratorium on fracking.
[Score: Fail, We would like to see a policy plan that involves Scotland divesting from fossil fuels. ]
5. How does your party’s policy rise to the challenge of achieving ‘net-zero’ emissions, as outlined in the IPCC’s 5th assessment report, and set a clear decarbonisation timeline for the UK?
There are no references to net-zero emissions, there was a mention of a zero-waste strategy but the evidence demands that we have a clear plan for working towards zero emissions.
[Score: Low, everyone needs to be talking, researching and planning for net-zero]
6.How does your climate policy recognise the massive renewable resources available in and around the UK, and the potential for jobs and economic returns in harvesting them?
The SNP-led Government has invested heavily in Scotland’s renewables sector, and has a good track record for delivery. They have offered a £10 million Saltire prize for marine energy innovation that aims to make Scotland a focal point for research and deployment of marine renewable technology. They support both onshore and offshore wind development and support steps to increase capital available to the Green Investment Bank. They also want to see the devolution of the Crown Estates Commission so communities can derive a direct community benefit from Scotland’s offshore wealth (though we assume this means oil and well as wind). They are big on community renewables and support ownership of local energy projects.
[Score: Good, a broad range of measures considered]
The SNP is clearly ambitious, but it is time to bite the bullet and start talking about the oil they are going to leave in the ground, why they must do it, and what will replace it. The SNP fall short of mentioning clear decarbonisation targets in their manifesto and are vague on what they would push for in Paris. Whilst the manifesto is broadly good, the devil as always lies in the detail, of which there is not much.