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Highlands and Islands Greens
Highlands and Islands Greens

New Fund Proposals to Help Highlands & Islands Communities Flourish

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Greens Set Climate Challenge

The Scottish Green Party in the Highlands & Islands has set out an action plan to tackle climate change in a pre-manifesto document, “The Climate Crisis: 12 Steps to a Low Carbon Economy” which includes proposals for a massive injection of funds for lead communities who want to move towards ‘carbon neutral’ status. (1)

The Greens in government will establish a £100m Climate Challenge Fund, which will invite bids in the first year from communities across Scotland, both urban and rural, encouraging them to rise to the ambitious challenge of cutting their climate change emissions by a third in just five years.

These Climate Challenge communities will in turn inspire others to reduce their own carbon emissions, putting Scotland at the forefront of grassroots efforts to tackle climate change.  Their projects will also bring tangible benefits for local people, in terms of better quality of life, green jobs, and greater economic efficiency. (2)

The challenge fund is just one of the key proposals set out by the Scottish Green Party in their pre-manifesto document.  In it the party sets out the next steps needed to deliver a low carbon economy for Scotland, including commitments to binding national carbon reduction targets, improved public transport, major investment in warm, affordable homes, measures to ‘climate-proof’ the planning system, and a personal carbon account for every citizen.

Eleanor Scott MSP with a woodchip-fired heating unit

Highlands & Islands Green MSP Eleanor Scott recently visited the woodchip boiler at Forestry Commission Scotland’s Dingwall office to learn more about the kind of projects Greens want to see become commonplace. (3)

Dr Scott said: “The Highlands & Islands can only flourish with a successful low-carbon economy, and the area certainly has the potential and expertise to develop innovative solutions to the challenge of climate change.  The 12 steps we are calling for show how Greens in government will tackle climate change, and how communities can be empowered and inspired to start making changes locally.

“Greens in Government would back action across all of Scotland, by providing significant additional funds for lead communities to demonstrate how dramatic cuts in emissions are possible and practical and in turn inspire the next wave of imaginative projects across Scotland and bring green solutions into the mainstream.”

About the potential for Highland & Islands communities to benefit from the proposed £100m climate challenge fund, Dr Scott said:

“We need action at all levels, but it is vitally important that communities can work directly with businesses and the public sector to reduce the emissions that are causing climate change.  Our proposal for a £100m fund in Scotland would benefit these communities directly, allowing them to design their own solutions from energy efficient lighting to business advice and community car clubs — the possibilities are endless.  I see great potential for Highlands & Islands communities to come up with ideas to cut their carbon emissions with the help of this fund.”

As part of their broader proposals on climate change, Greens called on the other political parties to adopt binding annual climate change targets, set at an average of at least 4·5% per year, and to put it in legislation so Ministers are required to deliver an action plan which meets these reductions.  Greens dismissed the other parties attempts to ‘appear green’ because under the surface they still back major road and airport expansion.

Dr Scott added: “It’s clear from the desperate efforts of the other parties to appear “green” that they’ve realised how seriously the electorate takes climate change.  Some of their recent proposals are baby steps in the right direction, but it is pure spin to suggest that any of the other parties have even begun to put together a realistic and achievable vision for a successful low carbon economy.”

Notes

(1) The full report is available at: www.scottishgreens.org.uk

(2) Funding and other practical support will be offered to help communities rise to the climate challenge.  The sorts of actions, big and small, that could be funded include:

  • providing a free ‘carbon audit’ for every individual and local organisation who wishes to take part;
  • free low energy light bulbs
  • the establishment of car sharing schemes using eco-friendly vehicles;
  • intensive support and advice for all local businesses in reducing energy consumption and waste;
  • community owned renewable energy schemes;
  • fitting all public buildings with small scale renewable energy devices;
  • community initiatives to protect and enlarge carbon sinks such as woodlands and wetlands;
  • low cost insulation schemes available to all;
  • green travel plan development for local employers;
  • enhanced footpath and cycle path networks;
  • development of local forestry biomass waste and installation;
  • integrated timetabling for local buses;
  • district heating schemes based on combined heat and power;
  • initiatives to cut food miles by stimulating local demand for, and production of, local food;
  • business enterprise development to stimulate new start-ups and diversification into low carbon activities.

(3) For the twelve steps go to www.scottishgreens.org.uk.