Marlyn Glen MSP

Speech in the Scottish Parliament

18 March 2010

Climate Change

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I welcome the opportunity to take part in the debate, particularly as I am a newer member of the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee.

As has been said, the Parliament's passing of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 was an historic landmark.

Members worked hard at amending and strengthening the legislation, which was a collective piece of work.

After all, we could not have achieved everything we had hoped to achieve without the support of community-based and non-governmental organisation coalitions, and again we have to look to communities for solutions.

Now that the act is in place, the Scottish Government has to follow it up with actions that deliver on its intentions.

Transport and buildings contribute the largest share of emissions in the non-traded sector.

However, by concentrating work on those areas, we can make a difference, and efforts to tackle climate change can generate many jobs in new sectors such as alternative energy production and building insulation.

We also need to link in essential training for such jobs.

Indeed, I was pleased to hear an update on that very matter at Monday's job summit at Dundee College with UK minister Ann McKechin, at which it was pointed out that over recent years many courses in the college have been developed to train people for exactly such job opportunities.

Last year, the trade union group of the campaign against climate change organised a conference of 200 union activists, and the resulting report called for a million new green climate jobs across the UK.

It is essential that we in Scotland play our part in reaching that target.

In responding to the report from the UK Committee on Climate Change, which analyses in depth our path to a low-carbon economy, the Scottish Government will have to review its climate change delivery plan.

Will the minister ensure that guidance to public bodies has a strong focus on low-carbon procurement?

Emissions from transport are, in fact, increasing, but there are still many actions that ministers can take.

The Labour motion specifically calls on the Scottish Government to replace its own car fleet with low-carbon or electric vehicles to provide a lead to others.

As the Liberal Democrat amendment makes clear, to drive the required step change, the Scottish Government needs to support the provision of electric car-charging infrastructure by, for example, following up and extending the joined cities plan in which Glasgow has been chosen to participate.

Such action would have positive knock-on effects for jobs.

For example, in Dundee, advanced battery manufacturer Axeon Technology is developing new high-energy battery chemistries that are ideal for plug-in electric vehicles.

That work is particularly essential given that from next January the £5,000 plug-in car grant, which is intended to persuade people to transfer to more environmentally friendly electric cars to reduce carbon emissions, will be available throughout the UK.

Climate change is an international issue, and its serious consequences do not respect national boundaries.

Indeed, it must be the least nationalist and most internationalist issue that we will have to face in the coming decades, and the maxim "Think globally and act locally" is still relevant.

One example of that is the University of Dundee's work on and involvement in the ACQWA—assessing climate impacts on the quantity and quality of water—project, which is a European Commission-financed five-year international project examining the consequences of climate change for communities in places such as Chile and the Alps, where the melting of mountain glaciers and snow contributes significantly to water resources.

However, although the University of Dundee carries out global research, it also acts locally.

Last week, it was in the news as the first employer in Tayside to receive the cycle friendly award for encouraging its staff to cycle to work.

It is up to every one of us to change our behaviour in order to reduce our carbon footprint, and I urge the minister as a matter of urgency to take up the challenges that have been identified this morning.

 

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