THE SCOTTISH LibDems have repeated their calls for Nicola Sturgeon to rip up her government’s deal with Heathrow Airport – claiming the First Minister is “not prepared to take concrete steps” to cut emissions.
Scottish LibDems leader, Alex Cole-Hamilton, has again called for action from the Scottish Government ahead of COP26, to be held in Glasgow in less than three weeks’ time and after the First Minister delivered a Ted Talk on the role smaller nations can play in global efforts to tackle the climate crisis.
The First Minister is also set to address the Arctic Circle Assembly tomorrow.
Speaking in Holyrood last month, SNP Transport Minister Graeme Dey appealed for “radcal behaviour change” as he warned that journeys by both plane and car will need to be permanently cut to end the country’s contribution to the climate crisis.
Mr Dey added that “without a reduction in aviation demand, the transport sector will not be able to achieve its emissions envelop for 2030”, which is to cut 1990 levels of pollution by 75 per cent.
The Scottish Government has a memorandum of understanding with Heathrow Airport, supporting the principle of a third runway being built.
The agreement includes a pledge of up to 16,000 new jobs across Scotland as a result of the expansion.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “In the run up to COP26, the Scottish Government has an opportunity to show the rest of the world the way forward but too often they can’t even bring themselves to do the bare minimum.
“Nicola Sturgeon can deliver all the slick conference speeches that she likes but if she is not prepared to take concrete steps to reduce Scotland’s emissions then it is all for nothing.
“The Scottish Government has admitted that our climate targets cannot be met if everyone flies as much as they used to. Yet the very same Scottish Government holds a contract with the single biggest polluter in the entire United Kingdom: Heathrow Airport.”
Mr Cole-Hamilton added: “We cannot afford 75,000 extra flights between Scotland and London by 2040.
“Nicola Sturgeon should rip up her government’s contract in support of a third runway at Heathrow before COP26 lands in Glasgow, otherwise no other country will possibly take her seriously as a credible voice on climate change.
“Last weekend I set out proposals for linking air passenger duty to how far and how regularly people fly. All the SNP Government has changed in six years is the name, doing nothing for the climate emergency. It’s time to make big changes.”
Mr Dey has stressed that the Scottish Government “is in the process of developing an aviation strategy with all parts of the aviation sector”.
He added: “We will reflect on everything that goes into that in terms of connectivity and the challenges that poses.
“We will produce a strategy that will reflect the future needs of Scotland and our need to respond to the climate emergency.”