By Lucy Ashton
Speaking as COP27 gets underway in Sharm El-Sheikh, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, pictured right, has urged the summit to bring “new hope” amid the climate emergency and criticised the SNP for its “half-hearted environmentalism.”
Mr Cole-Hamilton’s comments come as Nicola Sturgeon calls on other countries to make good on their commitments at COP26, despite her government planning cuts to its energy efficiency budget.
Offering new hope for the climate emergency has been a top priority for the Scottish Liberal Democrats.
The party has:
* Called for an emergency drive on insulation as a national strategic priority.
* Delivered a detailed plan to ensure that all new builds install climate-friendly heating systems and an upfront voucher scheme for homeowners who want to install these, as opposed to the current schemes for cashback systems or loans.
* Called on the SNP/Green Government to remove barriers to the quicker roll-out of solar power.
* Uncovered that it could take 300 years to insulate every fuel poor household at the current rate of progress.
* Pressed the UK Government to reconsider axing the North East’s carbon capture and storage project, championed by the Liberal Democrats.
* Called for all new public sector vehicles to be electric and the ramping up of the charging network.
* Proposed a new railcard entitlement for everyone built on the model in London and the South East, meaning railcard prices for everyone, alongside an extra discount for those already entitled.
* Proposed two/three-day a week rail season tickets to reflect new hybrid models of working.
* Called for the reversal of SNP/Green Government rail fare hikes.
* Proposed a Fast Fashion Commission, to review Scotland’s role in “fast fashion” domestically and internationally, new textile waste monitoring and reporting, alongside textile waste reduction targets and new kerbside collection options for textile recycling, to reduce the volume of clothing bought and binned and help build the brilliant network of charity shops.
* Demanded that the long-delayed Circular Economy Bill is resurrected and includes a latte levy and a new ban on single use plastics.
* Challenged the Scottish Government over missed emissions and heating targets, including the renewable heat target failed on the eve of COP26.
* Proposed a new Climate Emergency Communities Fund to prepare and protect people across Scotland already being affected by extreme weather, following research by the Scottish Liberal Democrats which revealed that 25 of the 42 flood protection schemes identified by SEPA for delivery between 2016 and 2021 are still only at the development stage.
* Set out proposals to establish a new Highlands and Islands Just Transition Commission, to take account of their specific needs and unique opportunities.
* Backed a conference motion calling for the rapidly acceleration of decarbonisation in sectors that have recorded little or no progress towards achieving emissions reduction targets since 1990 and for all future policy commitments to be sense checked in light of the climate and nature emergencies.
* Proposed linking Air Passenger Duty to how far and how regularly people fly after six years in which the only thing the SNP Government has changed is the name.
* Lodged an amendment to end Scottish Government support for Heathrow airport expansion, which would generate 75,000 extra flights to Scotland by 2040, an amendment which was rejected by SNP and Conservative MSPs
Mr Cole-Hamilton, left, said: “COP27 must offer the world and Scotland new hope amid an ever-escalating climate emergency.
“Nicola Sturgeon’s MSPs voted to expand Heathrow and pump more airline emissions into the atmosphere, bringing tens of thousands of new flights to Scotland.
“If that wasn’t bad enough, her government is allowing raw sewage to be pumped into Scotland’s waterways.
“At home and abroad, the SNP’s environmentalism is half-hearted.
“Under my leadership, Scottish Liberal Democrats have proposed a wide range of measures to cut emissions, tackle fuel poverty, boost renewables and protect communities from the ravages of climate change.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats have a plan of action. That plan will tackle the climate emergency without the baggage of nationalism.”