Progress on building a fairer, greener Scotland

FM Nichola Sturgeon

Marking one year of the Bute House Agreement.

NEW funding has been announced to cut carbon emissions in homes and commercial properties, as the Scottish Government continues to focus on delivering its net zero targets and support families with the cost of living.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Zero Carbon Buildings Minister Patrick Harvie announced £16.2 million funding for five zero emission heat networks during a visit to ng Homes in Glasgow.

The announcement coincides with the first anniversary of the Scottish Government and the Scottish Green Party Parliamentary Group signing the Bute House Agreement, a plan to work together to build a green economic recovery from COVID, respond to the climate emergency and create a fairer country.

In its first year the agreement has delivered a range of benefits for households, communities and businesses and seen work begin on a number of longer-term reforms.

Particular progress has been made across a range of areas including:

  • Doubling the Scottish Child Payment to £20 per week per eligible child from April 2022, with plans to extend eligibility to under 16s and further increasing the payment to £25 per week by the end of 2022.
  • Bringing ScotRail into public ownership.
  • Introducing free bus travel for under 22s to cut the cost of living for young people, encourage sustainable travel behaviours early in their lives and improve access to education, leisure, and work.
  • Investing a record £150 million in active travel in 2022-23, including more than doubling the funding for the National Cycle Network, a new walking fund, and supporting pilots for free bikes for school age children who cannot afford them.
  • Publishing Scotland’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation setting out how Scotland will transition to a wellbeing economy.

The Agreement set out a strategy for over a million homes to be using zero carbon heating systems by the end of the decade and allocating funds from a total planned investment of £1.8 billion to cut energy bills, improved building energy efficiency and reduce climate emissions.

Scotland’s Heat Network Fund offers long term funding support to deliver more climate-friendly ways of heating Scotland’s homes and buildings. It has enabled the rollout of new zero emission heat networks and communal heating systems, as well as the expansion and decarbonisation of existing heat networks across Scotland.

Moving forward, the Scottish Government is primarily focused on four key tasks: reducing child poverty; addressing the climate crisis; the recovery from COVID of Scotland’s public services including the delivery of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation; and the development of the prospectus for an independent Scotland and an independence referendum in October 2023. 

The First Minister said:

“The world has changed substantially since the Agreement was reached 12 months ago. The conflict in Ukraine and the rising cost of living crisis have profoundly impacted everyone’s lives.

“However, the stable and collaborative government provided by the Agreement, has helped to deliver immediate action in the face of these challenges, including supporting those displaced from Ukraine and using the powers that Ministers have to address the cost of living crisis.

“Action is needed now to support communities to respond to the cost of living and climate crises, and Scotland’s Heat Network Fund is just one of the many initiatives that the Scottish Government has already undertaken. The projects that receive support from the Fund will fully align with the Scottish Government’s aim to eradicate fuel poverty by supplying heat at affordable prices to consumers, which is especially important now when we are seeing record rises in the cost of heating.

“The Bute House Agreement was reached to equip us best to deal with the challenges we face, because we believe that new ideas and ways of working are required to deal with new problems. An unstable world needs more co-operation and more constructive working towards building a consensus, if governments are to be equal to what the people need of them.”

Mr Harvie said:

“One year on from the Scottish Greens entering government as part of the Bute House Agreement, I am proud of what this Government is doing to build a fairer, greener Scotland. From free bus transport for young people to doubling the Scottish Child Payment, we are committed to accelerating action to tackle the climate and cost of living crises.

“The energy crisis households across Scotland now face is being driven by rocketing prices for gas, which we depend on for heat. We are clear that we need to redouble our efforts to improve the efficiency of our homes, making them more comfortable and cheaper to run, and end our reliance on gas for heat. That’s why we are investing £1.8 billion in our green homes and buildings programme.

“Delivering a just transition to net-zero and seizing the opportunities this presents is a major focus of the Scottish Government, and rapidly increasing Scotland’s renewable energy generating capacity and securing accompanying jobs and investment will be central to our work over the rest of the parliament.

“During the first year of the Agreement firm foundations have been built, demonstrating delivery and progress on shared policy priorities and adopting an approach that is both challenging and constructive.”

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