Although you could be excused for missing it in today’s whirlwind news cycle, but last month the Scottish Government published a plan that could transform Scotland in just 15 short years – the country’s first-ever energy strategy. This draft strategy outlines a vision for our energy future that sets out the changes needed on how we power our society, heat our buildings and travel to work and school in the future.

It’s possible to see the draft strategy as a bold commitment to change, to the use of regulation to catalyse investment, the accelerated growth of renewable energy across our economy, the transformation of our homes, local energy planning and to an active role for government as an energy supplier. However, it can also be seen as holding onto old certainties and a reluctance to redirect the inertia in the patterns of today’s energy use. Its continued commitment to maximising recovery of oil and gas from the North Sea, the unnecessary pursuit of replacement thermal base-load generation and the primacy of the private (albeit electric) car are all features of yesterday’s energy world.

The draft strategy attempts to offer something for everyone yet the global energy transition will inevitably have winners and losers. That means the final strategy must move away from a cautious green and black energy vision and fully commit to the low-carbon transition if it is to effectively maximise the benefits. As the expert energy task force convened by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) recently concluded, the energy transition requires the Government to assert leadership and overall control: change will not happen without a concerted and integrated long-term plan.

The headline proposal in the draft strategy is to set a new all energy target to deliver the equivalent of 50 per cent of Scotland’s heat, transport and electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2030. If it’s to be a truly meaningful policy instrument, and deliver the same benefits as the 2020 electricity target has done, it needs to be complemented by two things. Firstly, it must be promoted and championed from the very top of the Scottish Government and secondly it requires concrete new policy commitments. Although the Energy Strategy stops short of saying what the level of renewable energy use will be in heating our buildings or driving our cars its sister document; the Climate Change Plan, does paint a picture of the future. In the immediate future the deployment of low-carbon heat into Scotland’s homes is expected to double, yet there is no new policy to drive.

In the transport sector, sales of electric vehicles are expected to increase by more than 100 per cent in one year and yet there’s no new policy initiative to drive this acceleration. Stronger commitments to work place parking charging and low-emissions zones could both help power this change and deliver much needed public health benefits. Similarly, the trategy describes the significant improvement of the energy efficiency of all our buildings, but neither it nor the Climate Plan offer much confidence that this will be realised.

The challenge of tackling climate change has always been about the urgency of now. If we’re to be successful we must see the challenges it presents as the breath-taking opportunities they really are.

Dr Sam Gardner, Head of Policy at WWF Scotland.