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Campaigners critical as climate change budget falls by £46m

WWF Scotland said draft budget undermines Scottish Government's green credentials.

By STV News

Published 16 Jan 2016.

The Scottish Government is to reduce the amount of money it spends tackling climate change by ten per cent, according to environmental campaigners.

WWF Scotland said analysis of draft budget figures showed that £456m would be spent on tackling climate change in 2016-17, down from £502m the previous year – a drop of almost £46m.

It comes after advisory body the Committee on Climate Change urged the Government that more action was needed to meet future targets.

Campaigners are now calling on finance secretary John Swinney to amend his draft budget and invest in a low-carbon future.

Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland said: "These new figures undermine the Scottish Government's claim to have embedded climate change in its draft budget.

"With the Paris conference having demonstrated increased international commitment to tackling climate change, we should be stepping up our action not pulling back.

"If we’re to secure the economic and social benefits of being at the forefront of global action on climate change, the Scottish Government must invest in Scotland’s low carbon future."

Mr Banks said it was "particularly disappointing" that funding for energy efficiency programmes was being reduced, despite a commitment to make this a priority.

He continued: "As the draft budget is finalised over the coming weeks, the Scottish Government should use this opportunity to increase its investment in building a low carbon economy, so that the final budget represents a stronger reflection of its new commitment to embed climate change throughout this budget."

The Scottish Government said investment in renewable energy had taken a hit after the UK Government cut green subsidies.

Climate change minister Aileen McLeod said: "We have repeatedly lobbied the UK Government, including direct representations to the prime minister, to reverse its changes to renewable energy policies.

"Regrettably, it has not done so and we have had to revise our budgets relating to renewable energy.

"Despite this, we remain absolutely committed to continuing action to tackle climate change with a £13.3m overall increase in budgets across other areas."

Sarah Boyack MSP, Scottish Labour's spokesperson for environmental justice said: "It just goes to show that when it comes to putting their money where their mouth is the SNP Government are full of warm words but no action on climate change.

"Despite Nicola Sturgeon parading around Paris last month the fact is that SNP have not met any of their four annual climate change targets since the Scottish parliament introduced them.

"We also know that hitting those targets will get even more challenging because the only fiscal policy they are committed to with the new powers coming to Scotland is a regressive cut to Air Passenger Duty which will increase emissions.

"Now we are seeing the SNP planning to slash the budget for climate change. We have a duty to protect the most vulnerable in our society from the impacts of climate change, whether its investing in energy efficiency, green jobs or sustainable transport. The SNP Government are failing in that responsibility."