Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) has expressed major disappointment in the Scottish Government’s Budget Bill which has now been published.
The proposed Budget continues to ignore the need to fully fund the measures set out in the Government’s own plans to reduce Scotland’s emissions in line with the Scottish Climate Change Act. In particular, funding to improve and expand cycling and walking infrastructure is still set to be cut by a third while, at the same time, the roads budget will increase by 16%.
As part of an SCCS campaign, hundreds of people across the country contacted their MSPs to highlight concerns about funding for the plans to ensure Scotland meets its legally-binding climate change targets. On Wednesday 11th January, more than 350 people on bikes and on foot gathered outside the office of the Scottish Government, at St Andrew’s House in Edinburgh, to show their support for that campaign. Their calls have been ignored.
Ministers have also overlooked the recommendations of two Parliamentary Committees who urged the Government to align its Budget with its climate change ambitions.
Tom Ballantine, Chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland said: “It’s concerning that the Scottish Government has ignored the calls of people across Scotland – and of their parliamentary representatives - who want to see our climate ambitions become a reality.
It’s commendable that the Government have committed to the strongest climate change laws in the world, but unless we follow through on the Scottish Climate Change Act and actually reduce our emissions, that commitment is left seeming hollow.
One of the key areas of concern for us remains the transport sector, where emissions continue to rise. Earlier this month, hundreds of people sent a clear message to Transport Minister, Keith Brown, about how funding for transport could be better spent. It’s disappointing that that too has been ignored.
Mr Brown has claimed that the Scottish Government cuts to cycling and walking are a result of cuts from Westminster. But these cuts to the sustainable travel budget come in the context of an overall increase of 16% to the roads budget. Sadly the Transport Minister has missed an opportunity to reallocate relatively small amounts from the huge road-building budget to fund low carbon transport measures.
The Scottish Government has disregarded the calls of key Parliamentary Committees, of academic experts, of the hundreds of people who have contacted their MSPs about this issue and of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland – the largest civil society coalition in the country - in order to blast ahead with their carbon-intensive plans to build even more roads rather than help people make healthier, safer, more environmentally-friendly transport choices.”
Dave du Feu, lead organiser of Spokes, said: "The SNP's 2011 Holyrood manifesto, promising to increase the proportion of transport spending going to cycling and walking, now appears to have been thrown in the recycling bin. Spokes calculates that, far from being increased, this proportion is set to be cut year by year, reaching a mere 0.63% in 2013-14, roughly half its previous level of 1.21% in 2010-11."
The announcement regarding the Future Transport Fund last week does not announce any new funding for low carbon travel, beyond what was already in the draft budget, and should not distract us from the huge cuts that the Government plan for funds to improve cycling and walking infrastructure in Scotland.
The Budget Bill will now be considered by all MSPs and agreed by mid-February. SCCS restates our call for all MSPs, who take seriously the commitments set out in the Scottish Climate Change Act, to ensure that the Budget they vote through doesn’t undermine the credibility of this Act.