CLIMATE change commitments in the Scottish budget have been welcomed by environmental campaigners - but with warnings that “transformational” funding is needed to reach tough emissions targets.

With Glasgow hosting COP26 in November, the eyes of the world were on Scotland and tackling global warming became part of the national conversation.

The influence of the SNP-Green co-operation deal was evident in the announcement made by Kate Forbes in the Scottish Budget on Thursday.

The first £20m was allocated to the Just Transition fund for the north east and workers in the oil and gas industry, £1.4bn to improve and decarbonise the rail network and £53m to restore Scotland’s natural environment.

Environmental campaigners have welcomed pledges to decarbonise heating and active travel, which will reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, but said more funding is needed to meet net zero targets.

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Forbes told MSPs that the climate crisis is an “enormous economic opportunity for Scotland” and that COP26 “showcased” the ways Scotland is working towards net zero, adding that there is a “depth of commitment” to go further.

The National:

Finance Secretary Forbes announced the budget in Holyrood on Thursday 

She said: “Through this Budget, we will lay the groundwork to protect and restore our natural environment, decarbonise our homes, industries and transport, and position ourselves as a global leader in renewable energy, and green and digital technology.

“Meeting our ambitious emissions reduction targets will require transformative action across all sectors of the economy and across society.

“It will not be an easy task but this Government is up for the challenge.”

Forbes told MSPs that in 2022-23, £60m will be allocated for large scale heat decarbonisation projects, £336 million will be awarded for energy efficiency projects such as low carbon and renewable heat, to cut emissions, and £23.5m for the Green jobs fund.

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Driving forward a circular economy, the brief headed by Greens minister Lorna Slater, will be allotted £43m, £69.5m investment in woodland creation and sustainability, and a record investment of £150m in infrastructure to make walking, wheeling and cycling safer.

While environmental campaigners welcomed the funding, they also stated that it did not go far enough.

Fabrice Leveque, Climate and Energy Lead of WWF Scotland, said: “We welcome increased funding to clean up home heating, build new walking and cycling infrastructure and to restore carbon-rich habitats, such as peatlands and woodlands. “These investments will cut carbon, improve health and create jobs – but this falls short of the transformational budget needed for the climate and nature emergency we still face.

“Just this week the Scottish Government’s own advisors on climate warned that meeting our 2030 target hangs in the balance.

The National:

This year is the first budget where the Greens have been in government 

“In the years ahead, the Scottish Government will need to continue to increase investment to green our homes and ensure that rural support is transformed to deliver for climate and nature.”

Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth (FoE) Scotland, said that the budget took some “useful steps in the right direction” to tackle the climate crisis and welcomed a 20% increase in the fund to help bus companies transition to electric vehicles.

He added: “There is a massive challenge to make Scotland’s homes and buildings more energy efficient and the government has promised to invest £1.8bn over this Parliament but the £336m allocated in this budget fails to give this work the flying start it needs.

“The first phase of the Just Transition Fund is welcome and it is positive that key projects are to be identified by the people who will be impacted by the transition.

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“This investment must be deployed and scaled up urgently, to ensure the projects chosen by workers and communities lead to decent green jobs and social benefits as quickly as possible.”

Dixon added that according to the UK Committee on Climate Change the Scottish Government is not doing enough to reach emission targets.

He added: “This budget takes some of the right steps but we need to urgently accelerate action to address the climate emergency.”

The National:

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie (pictured) said: “The Scottish Greens in Government are working for Scotland.

“This budget delivers progress on key Green policies to tackle the climate emergency and end child poverty, including investing £2 billion to tackle the climate emergency and doubling the Scottish Child Payment, giving £20 a week to over 400,000 children and their families.

“It’s clear the pandemic continues to pile pressure on budgets, inflation and the NHS.

“That’s why a just transition and a green recovery from the pandemic are needed if we are to build a fairer, greener future that leaves no-one behind.

“This budget is our first step towards that.”

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A Scottish Government spokesperson said:“This budget will deliver record levels of investment in tackling the climate emergency – helping to protect and restore the natural environment, and decarbonise homes, industries and transport. It provides more than £2 billion for measures that will deliver a just transition to a net zero and a climate resilient Scotland.

“To green our homes, we are also investing at least £1.8 billion over this parliament in heat and energy projects, providing a much-needed stimulus to the heat and energy efficiency sector. However, it is clear that that cost cannot be borne by government alone.

"We are establishing a new green heat finance task force to identify innovative solutions to maximise private sector investment and find new ways to help to spread the up-front cost of making properties warmer, greener and more energy efficient.

“To deliver the transformational change required, the UK Government must also take urgent action in reserved areas to support the just transition to decarbonised heating.