Failure of leadership as the UK Government turns its back on climate commitments

Tuesday November 1st 2022

This View has been written by Dianne Alexander, Midlothian Council Cabinet Member for Community Facilities, Climate Change and the Environment, Councillor (SNP) Bonnyrigg

As Midlothian’s Cabinet member for Climate Change and the Environment I am deeply concerned at the news that Rishi Sunak is “rolling back” on the UK government’s commitment to tackling climate change – it is extraordinary that the Prime Minister has ruled out attending COP27.

With Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon planning on attending the conference, to press for the urgent and comprehensive delivery and implementation of the commitments agreed at COP26, the Tory Prime Minister is instead showing a complete failure of leadership on climate change.

Not only is Rishi Sunak failing to show the personal leadership required by refusing to attend the conference, he has also:

– Removed Alok Sharma from Cabinet before the UK COP Presidency has even ended
– Stopped the Minister of State for Climate Graham Stuart from attending Cabinet
– Effectively banned King Charles from attending the COP27 conference
– Blocked plans to ease planning restrictions on onshore wind – despite it being the cheapest form of energy and key to the transition to a renewable energy future

The stark contrast between the SNP’s local and National leadership on tackling climate change – and Rishi Sunak’s complete failure of leadership is plain to see. The Tory Prime Minister has got off to the worst possible start on this issue – and must urgently change course. There is no more time to waste to save the planet.

Mr Sunak is sending an appalling signal by rolling back on the UK’s government’s commitments to renewable energy, demoting climate change ministers from his cabinet, and failing to join world leaders at COP27.

The climate emergency is the most important issue we face – and it’s inextricably linked to energy security and the cost of living crisis. The Prime Minister is failing to show the personal leadership required to drive forward the delivery of climate commitments – and by U-turning on plans to encourage onshore wind, he is actively damaging the UK’s, and Midlothian’s efforts.

For twelve years, the Tory government has failed to take climate change seriously. Their lack of action, including the failure to properly invest in renewable energy has contributed to the UK’s soaring energy bills and winter blackout threats.

Scotland is a clean, green energy machine as demonstrated by the latest in the series of papers produced by the Scottish Government on the economic case for independence.

The paper outlined how Scotland is an energy rich nation, with both onshore wind and renewables such as hydrogen forming the bedrock of an independent Scotland.

Estimates show that wind power can generate £2.8bn and 17,000 more jobs in Scotland. Whilst hydrogen power could create between 70,000 and 300,000 jobs and generate up to £25bn a year by 2045.

The paper also highlighted how Scotland is already leading the way in other renewable energy sources, such as tidal energy and carbon capture and storage technology.

Scotland needs independence to achieve our full potential as the European renewable energy powerhouse of the 21st century – and so we can use every lever to lead from the front on climate change, to the benefit of all our communities across Midlothian, and across Scotland.

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