The Scottish Governments announcement of a new set of low-carbon policies is to be welcomed. Nicola Sturgeon declared yesterday the country would end the sale of new petrol and diesel-powered cars by 2032. The deadline on new petrol and diesel cars puts Scotland eight years ahead of a target set by Westminster in July. France has also set a date of 2040.
“Our aim is for new petrol and diesel cars and vans to be phased out in Scotland by 2032 – the end of the period covered by our new climate change plan and eight years ahead of the target set by the UK government,” Sturgeon said on Tuesday.
“As members will be aware, we don’t currently hold powers over vehicle standards and taxation. However, we can and will take action,” she said
Sturgeon said her plans are to “massively expand” the access to charging points and to make the A9 Scotland’s first “fully electric enabled” motorway, making it immediately dubbed the ‘Electric Brae’.
The road (the longest in Scotland), will have charging points installed along its length from central Scotland through Inverness and up to Scrabster Harbour in the north.
Transform Scotland called it: “Good news for active travel, air quality and cutting carbon emissions.” More here.
Given the frantic state of the car industry’s lobbying efforts [car industry lobbyists have met with the German government to discuss the VW dieselgate scandal and pollutant emissions more than once every two days since the scandal broke in 2015] – it seems like in this, and a lot of other social policy announcements, third sector Scotland really does have clout. This is a porous, responsive government.
We are now potentially in a virtuous circle – where car manufacturers who have anticipated a continued shift among international and municipal governments (such as France, acrid, Mexico City), have outlined plans to move towards greener energy alternatives: Volvo is only going to make new hybrid and all-electric vehicles starting in 2019, the new Nissan Leaf out next year (going head to head with the Tesla Model 3) has a range of 150 miles.
This is not just about cars. One of the most positive aspects of the raft of polices announced is the sense that they might actually be thought-through and even joined-up.
On air pollution and transport – the Government will: introduce Low Emission Zones in Scotland’s biggest cities by 2020; set a target of phasing out new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032; turn the A9 into an electric superhighway; and double the budget for cycling and walking.
Dr Richard Dixon of Friends of the Earth said:
“Phasing out new petrol and diesel vehicles is a big step forward for tackling air pollution and climate change emissions. Setting a date of 2032 puts Scotland among the most ambitious countries in the world on vehicle electrification, and the announcement of an A9 electric superhighway also sends a very important signal on the future of motorised transport in Scotland.”
But Transform Scotland Director Colin Howden took a more cautious note:
“It is vital that the Government does not rely solely on a ‘techno-fix’ approach to transport. To cut congestion, get people active and deliver larger improvements in air quality and carbon emissions, the Government needs to shift its focus to public transport and active travel, rather than private car use.”
Yesterday’s Programme for Government revealed a welcome commitment to establish a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee by 2020.
Richard Dixon commented:
“Low Emission Zones, which restrict the most polluting vehicles from the most polluted places, are a life saving intervention which will improve people’s health and help urban centres thrive. It is great news that the Scottish Government has committed to introducing LEZs in every major city in Scotland by 2020. Now we urgently need details of where the first LEZ will be otherwise the 2018 deadline promised earlier this year will not be met.”
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf announced a consultation on LEZs:
“The Scottish Government is seeking views on how best to put in place LEZs following a commitment made yesterday to introduce LEZs into Scotland’s four biggest cities by 2020. Additionally, the Scottish Government will shortly announce the location of the first LEZ which will be put in place in 2018.”
The consultation will be available via the Transport Scotland and Citizen Space website until 28 November 2017. Views can also be shared on Twitter using the hashtag #lezconsultation.
On cycling and active travel Richard Dixon commented:
“Pedestrians and cyclists will see huge benefits from the doubling of the budget for active travel. Walking and cycling improve our health, improve air quality and cut carbon from the transport sector, and this investment signals the start of a real step change by the Scottish Government. We hope that this increased investment continues and call for the Government to ultimately spend 10% of its transport budget on walking and cycling by 2020.”
If this can be combined with an actual functioning public transport system, then this will be genuinely game-changing.
Next up: fracking.
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