Legend tells that in around 832 AD, in what is now East Lothian, on the eve of war with his fierce English enemies, King Angus of the Picts slept uneasily. In a dream, a heavenly figure appeared to him and promised a great victory.
When morning came, Angus looked towards the rising sun and saw a vast white, diagonal cross reaching through the sky. It was the Saltire Cross, the symbol of St Andrew. The king claimed his victory, and so began the Scots’ relationship with their patron saint.
History aside, today is St Andrew’s day. Andrew the Apostle is also the patron saint of Greece, Russia, Barbados and fishmongers, to name but a few. However, to the English-speaking world he is most associated with Scotland, where his Saltire now adorns the national flag.
To mark the day, Blue & Green Tomorrow has rounded up all the Scotland-themed stories we have recently covered.
Taking centre stage is Scotland’s bid for independence. On September 18 2014, the Scottish people will vote on whether or not they want to split from Westminster. SNP’s blueprint for the nation’s self-governed future, released this week, dictates that the parliament would have “the opportunity to enshrine protection of the environment in a written constitution, ensuring its protection,” and to “champion action on climate change at the global level“.
It also argues that devolution would give Scotland the power to fully develop its renewable energy industry.
Whilst the white paper said Scotland needs a “mixed energy portfolio”, it lauds the ambitious target of delivering the equivalent of 100% of electricity demand and 11% of non-electrical heat demand from renewable sources by 2020.
The importance of clean energy was played up by the SNP at their party conference in October. Fergus Ewing, SNP energy minister, said that Scottish renewables now produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of every household in Scotland, but added that they bring a host of other benefits too.
“Over 11,000 jobs have been created; over £5m per year is now being generated for communities the length and breadth of the country and last year Scotland’s renewable energy displaced more than 10 million tonnes of CO2, more than total emissions of all of Scotland’s road transport,” he said at the time.
Scotland’s renewable potential does appear almost unrivalled, with many suggesting it can become a world leader in clean energy generation (though apparently not everyone is so keen). The Scottish government has already approved the world’s largest tidal power project, capable of powering the equivalent of 42,000 homes.
However, such news may be mitigated slightly by the recent announcement that a huge new opencast coal mine in Midlothian has been given the green light. The project will see 10 million tonnes of coal excavated, outraging environmentalists.
Research by the Islamic Finance Council UK (IFC) also hints at a different kind of potential. A survey found that more than 50% of Scots want to see some of their money invested according to green or ethical criteria.
Graham Burnside, chairman at Edinburgh-based solicitors Tods Murray, suggested earlier this year that such feeling means Scotland could become “a global ethical finance hub.”
The Royal Bank of Scotland, however, has not received such positive press. A new report, published last Monday, revealed the bank’s “shocking treatment” of British businesses. The institution has also recently been ranked the eighth most prolific coal mining project lender and underwriter in the world, and may be implicated in a fresh scandal.
In First Minister Alex Salmond’s St Andrew’s Day address, the leader promises that 2014 will be a year like no other (while ill-advisedly trying his hand at bowling). Though the independence referendum will no doubt dominate the headlines, the immediate future of Scotland will also be worth watching to learn whether the country can truly realise its potential and become a shining example of sustainability.
Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by the Glasgow helicopter crash.