Image: The Scottish National Party

Image: The Scottish National Party

Climate change topped the bill of the Scottish government’s ‘Programme for Government’, announced by Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon.

A ‘Green New Deal’ was chief among the policy pledges, which includes a £3 billion Green Investment Portfolio.

Projects involving renewables, waste, the circular economy and property are set to benefit from the investment package.

The Scottish government will make a public call for projects in November, working alongside Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Futures Trust, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Scottish National Investment Bank.

Also under the ‘Green New Deal’ is the establishment of the new Scottish National Investment Bank, which will have an initial pot of £130 million for its first year.

The funding is to provide finance with the intention of driving additional investment in Scotland across both the public and private sectors.

The bank’s primary goal is to ensure the transition to net zero and it is set to invest at least £2 billion over ten years.

Under a new Green Growth Accelerator – also announced in the ‘Programme for Government’ and expanded from the current Growth Accelerator – local authorities can borrow to invest in projects which reduce emissions and boost growth.

Speaking as the document was unveiled, Sturgeon pledged to ensure that Scotland “benefits economically” from moving towards net zero.

“We are without doubt one of the best countries in the world to invest in low carbon or net zero projects – by promoting the Green Investment Portfolio, we will ensure that fact is known to investors around the world,” she continued.

Finance wasn’t the only focus of the ‘Programme for Government’, however. Measures for encouraging the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) were detailed, although two of these – a £7.5 million EV infrastructure pilot and £20 million in funding for public charging infrastructure – have been previously announced.

The Scottish government intends to decarbonise its public sector fleet by 2025 and an additional £17 million was also announced for the purchase of ultra-low emission vehicles as part of its Low Carbon Transport Loan scheme.

It is also intending to “lead by example” by accelerating efforts to use 100% renewable electricity on the Scottish public estate.

However, the Scottish Government’s plans for renewables were – on the whole – missing, with details set to be outlined in the next Energy Statement.

But what was detailed was the Scottish government’s support “in principle” for plans from the Oil and Gas Technology Centre to establish a Net Zero Solution Centre, which would see the deployment of carbon capture usage and storage and hydrogen and renewables technologies that are able to integrate with existing oil and gas infrastructure.

Once a business case analysis is completed, the Scottish government will confirm its funding contribution and call on the UK government to co-invest.

An Offshore Wind Policy Statement will also be developed, making clear the Scottish government’s ambitions for offshore wind.

“The year ahead will consolidate Scotland’s position as a leader in the battle against climate change,” Sturgeon continued.

“In short, while the Westminster government shuts down, the Scottish Government is stepping up.”