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Scottish Government is failing to future-proof the economy

8 December 2010

Nearing the end of the parliamentary term the Sustainable Development Commission Scotland delivers a stark warning that the Government is putting Scotland’s long term prosperity at serious risk by failing to make the hard choices for a sustainable economy. The Commission welcomes the good work on renewables but warns that it has failed to signal the move away from dependence on oil and gas which is crucial to future-proof Scotland’s economy.

SDC Scotland has today (Wednesday 8th December) published its Fourth Annual Assessment of the Scottish Government’s progress on sustainable development. The report is critical of the way the Scottish Government has ducked its responsibility to set the whole of Scotland’s economy onto a low carbon and fair path by properly resourcing work on fuel poverty, energy efficiency and sustainable transport.

Professor Jan Bebbington, Vice-Chair of the Sustainable Development Commission, Scotland, said:
‘The Government’s ability to turn its world leading climate change ambitions into action and provide Scotland with a resilient low carbon economy is seriously undermined by patchy, slow and inadequate action.’

‘Those worst off in society are being left further and further behind. Unemployment, social deprivation and fuel and transport poverty will not be solved without whole-system thinking and considerably more resources than has been allocated so far. We need to look at the foundations for our whole economy and define green jobs as more than renewables and carbon capture. Green jobs are healthy, fair and sustainable and they grow out of resilient low-carbon communities.’

This year’s Annual Assessment report is the most comprehensive to date, looking at the full term of this administration.

The report concludes that indicators of performance in problematic policy areas like transport are moving in the wrong direction and others, like energy efficiency, have only lately received the attention they deserve.

Bebbington said:
‘The Scottish Government is rightly proud of its world leading climate change act. Some policy actions, for example on renewable electricity, have been exemplary, with Government receiving plaudits from business and environmental NGOs.'

'However, the equally important field of energy efficiency and demand reduction has remained a poor cousin. These areas have received far too little attention in terms of jobs potential. It is a shame that Scotland’s collective resources, human and natural, are not put to better collective use to meet the 2020 targets.’

‘Instead we have seen a Government sending the public confusing signals by cutting investment in active travel and building new road traffic infrastructure while saying the public needs to change their travel habits to more sustainable modes. It sends conflicting messages and undermines people’s ability to work with Government for change.’

SDC Scotland’s Annual Assessment is based on a review of Government policy across a range of topics from economy and energy to education, health, waste and biodiversity. The conclusions and recommendations are also based on discussions with expert groups in each policy area, Government civil servants and a stakeholder survey.

» Download the Fourth Assessment of Progress by the Scottish Government on Sustainable Development

If you would like a hard copy of the Assessment report please e-mail us 

Fourth Assessment Annexes

» Annexe One: Scottish Government Indicator and Target Data

» Annexe 2: Summary of Stakeholder survey responses

» Read more about our scrutiny of government work

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