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Scottish independence: renewables and climate change debate heats up



Opponents and supporters of Scottish independence have started to outline the case for renewable energy investment and progress on climate change in case the country decides to leave the union, with ‘no’ campaigners arguing the independence will harm the wind energy sector.

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Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s analysis has suggested that an independent Scotland could see its 2020 clean energy targets compromised, as UK’s subsidies for renewables won’t be available anymore and it could take years to set out financial assistance to developers.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said, “A ‘yes’ vote would be likely to slam the brakes on the Scottish renewable energy sector.

Scots will take to the poll to decide on the future of their country on Thursday.

On an independence debate hosted by Greenpeace’s Energydesk, shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex said, “In Scotland, renewable energy adds 700MW of new capacity each year, saving more than 10,000 tonnes of CO2. Our UK-wide system of underwriting renewables through levies applied to bills means that nine tenths of the payments in Scotland come from other UK consumers. We benefit with the jobs and investment, and the rest of the UK benefits from the green power that is generated.

“Leaving the UK would jeopardise that shared support arrangement – why would consumers in a foreign country subsidise wind turbines through their household bills?”

Greatrex added, “If Scotland votes to leave the UK, those of us who are concerned about climate change may wake to find ourselves in a country forced to reassess the affordability of its commitment to renewables, marginalised in the efforts to secure the type of global deal the world needs and establishing a new state where concerns about climate change would be marginalised.”

However, environment and climate change minister for the Scottish National Party (SNP) Paul Wheelhouse responded that Scotland’s climate and renewables commitments are much more ambitious than those of the UK and that as an independent member of the EU, it could secure more finance towards clean sectors.

With independence Scotland will have a much stronger voice on the global stage – something stakeholders tell us they want to see”, he said.

“ We can place the environment and climate action at the heart of the nation, in a written constitution for Scotland – the highest and strongest of laws and a statement of the fundamental principles by which a country chooses to live regardless of the leanings of those in power.”

Photo:  Kim Hansen via Flickr

Further reading:

Scottish independence: ‘Yes’ vote could lead to £14bn hole in budget

Scottish independence: take our poll

Scottish independence: what would a ‘Yes’ vote mean for energy policy?

Scottish solar industry reaches ‘significant’ 100MW milestone

Scottish government lays out green benefits of independence


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