The ‘Big Ask' for Scotland
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets Bill.
UNISON Scotland's response to Mark Ruskell MSPs
consultation paper on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets.
This paper constitutes UNISON Scotland response to
the above consultation.
UNISON is Scotland's largest trade union representing
over 150,000 members working in the Scottish Health Service, local
government, utilities, further and higher education and other public
sector providers throughout Scotland. We are also the largest trade
union in the energy industry.
The challenge of global warming has led the UK government
to make commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. The UK is attempting
to reduce its emissions from a basket of gases: Methane; nitrous
oxide; sulphur hexafluoride; perflurocarbons; hydrofluorocarbons;
as well as carbon dioxide by 12.5% below 1990 levels by 2008-12,
and the government has set itself a domestic target of 20% below
1990 levels by 2010. UNISON welcomes the opportunity to respond
to this consultation exercise on greenhouse gas emissions.
Response by UNISON Scotland
What are your views on the proposed approach:
UNISON Scotland broadly supports "year-on-year " targets
to reduce Climate Change emissions. We believe that these would
compliment the long-term goals set by the UK government and under
our treaty obligations.
The Commons Environmental Audit Committee has reported
that the UK is likely to fall far short of international targets
for renewable energy. The UK still produces less than 3% of its
energy from renewable sources. They highlighted "the conflicting
priorities of market liberalisation and cheap electricity as against
our Kyoto obligations”. Whilst largely thanks to hydro-electric
power Scotland's renewable record is the best in the UK, Scottish
Executive targets of 18% by 2010 and 40% by 2020 are optimistic.
The Executive has to provide sufficient, affordable
energy and tackle fuel poverty in Scotland while meeting its Kyoto
targets. It will need to change the way energy is supplied, decrease
demand by making more efficient use of energy, bringing in new technologies
and changes to the whole infrastructure of the industry. Major programmes
are being introduced to promote the development of renewables and
increase energy efficiency. However, with our current nuclear power
stations (which produce low carbon energy) due to decommission over
the next 10-20 years, our emissions could begin to rise again.
We support the proposal in line with the Scottish
Parliament Environment Committee's inquiry into Climate Change.
At what level(s) and over what time frame(s) do
you think targets should be set?
UNISON Scotland believe that the Kyoto Protocol is
an essential first step in tackling climate change. The measures
set out in the Kyoto Protocol, while not the complete solution,
is at least a step in the right direction.
UNISON Scotland also believes these targets will only
be achieved by generating more electricity from renewable sources,
supporting clean coal technologies and maintaining at least some
nuclear provision. All of these measures will require government
support. The market alone will not respond in time.
The Scottish Executives' targets appear to be extremely
challenging given the current state of technology, the availability
of suitable sites and increasing local opposition to wind farms
in particular. Wind and wave power appear to be the most viable
medium term options and the necessary transmission infrastructure
should be strengthened to support these developments.
The legislation must recognise that in achieving gas
emission targets many elements lie outwith Scottish Executive control.
What measures would you like to see included in
a plan of action?
UNISON Scotland believes that there is a scope for
the development of a Scottish Energy Strategy within the context
of the UK. Scotland has a distinct energy position within the UK
because of its integrated electricity industry, different generation
structure and the opportunity to develop extensive renewable energy
The Scottish Parliament also has an important role
to play in supporting a Scottish energy strategy, having devolved
responsibilities that both impact and interface with UK energy policy.
These include; the environment, planning, education and training,
economic development and, not least, sustainable development.
UNISON Scotland would urge policies that support a
balanced and sustainable approach to energy generation and use,
and which promote further investment across Scotland. We believe
that a Scottish energy strategy should be based on a planned market
for energy combined with security of supply, as well as social,
employment and environmental objectives. Key principles should be:
A balanced electricity generation policy from a number
of sources to minimise volatility and ensure security of supply.
Increased support for renewable energy sources.
For the foreseeable future, to continue with gas and coal
generation at current levels, subject to the introduction of clean
Given Scotland's current dependency on nuclear generation
there is no medium term viable alternative if Scotland is to meet
its climate change obligations.
Demand for electricity should be reduced by promoting
energy efficiency, with new resources for local government and revised
targets including new building standards. This should be coupled
with a better co-ordinated drive against fuel poverty. Government
targets for the growth of Combined Heat and Power should be increased
with appropriate support.
UNISON Scotland believes that any proposal to expand
the generation of electricity from renewable sources must be seen
in the context of the Scottish energy industry as a whole. This
industry is vital to the Scottish economy and provides significant
numbers of quality jobs. Any emission targets should take into account
the economic consequences. We regret that to date there is very
little evidence that ‘green jobs' are much more than a paper strategy.
Transport is a major contributor to climate change
and if the government is to fulfil its obligations under the Kyoto
Protocol more needs to be done to reduce transport's impact. Road
traffic and aviation are the fastest growing sources of greenhouse
gases. Emissions can be reduced with the use of non-polluting technologies,
such as fuel cells in motor vehicles. Flying should pay he full
environmental costs of its activities. Travel habits must be changed
if we want to alleviate the worst effects of air and noise pollution.
UNISON Scotland would agree that there is significant
scope to reduce the generation of waste. There are many examples
of innovative local authority strategies that should be supported
and resourced by the Scottish Executive. We would particularly highlight
the current interpretation of environmental regulations that could
bring to an end the combustion of Waste Derived Fuel produced from
sludge at Daldowie and burnt at Longannent Power Station. This is
an environmentally sound method of fuel generation and its loss
would result in extra coal emissions and landfill for the sludge.
We agree that the buying power of the public sector
has huge potential to stimulate and support the market in energy
efficiency and renewable energy. The public sector frequently has
to compete with private sector organisation so there must be an
equal playing field on environmental targets for public and private
contracts. UNISON would support the public sector taking a leadership
role in this area so long as appropriate funding was secured. Many
"green schemes” require high initial cost and a long lead time before
the financial benefits accrue.
We are concerned that the ‘efficient government' initiative
could lead to greater centralisation of services including purchasing.
This has been the experience of the private sector with shared services
causing greater employee travel and purchasing squeezing out smaller
How frequently do you think reporting should take
UNISON Scotland supports a comprehensive and independent
audit of progress under the Scottish programme, commissioned by
the Executive and repeated every five years. We also agree that
the Executive should also report annually to the Parliament on progress
towards meeting targets.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Privatisation and liberalisation of the energy market
will not deliver a planned energy policy or achieve emission targets.
Comprehensive planning is required if alternative generation is
to make a significant contribution to our energy requirements, integrated
public transport to cut car use and deliver effective waste management.
For Further Information Please Contact:
Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary
14, West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX
Tel 0845 355 0845 Fax 0141 342 2835
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