21 For 21: The Climate Change Actions Scotland Needs Now

Overview —

21 Policies that would enable Scotland to meet our responsibilities as laid out by the 2021 IPCC Sixth Assessment Report


Common Weal Energy Policy Group

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On 9 August 2021 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its long-awaited Sixth Assessment Report. That report constitutes a stern warning – globally we are far short of what we must do to limit global warming to the 1.5˚C target by 2100. And when it comes to climate change, Scotland is not an average country. Our land, natural resources, wealth and renewable energy resources mean that very few nations are anywhere near as well placed as us to meet our responsibilities. Given these conditions, we are in a unique position to lead the climate change charge both at home and on the international stage. In order to do this we need to raise our ambition and match this commitment with an over-arching, radical, pragmatic action plan that responds to the urgent predictions from the IPCC and the short time scale left to avert climate catastrophe.

So what must we do? Over a number of years Common Weal, the Energy Poverty Research initiative and the Built Environment Asset Management Centre at Glasgow Caledonian University, have developed a body of policy work on energy use and management and Common Weal has produced a range of other reports on issues relating directly to climate change. In this report the Common Weal Energy Working Group (with support from Douglas Chapman MP and his team) highlights 21 of the priority actions Scotland should be embarking on during 2021 if we are serious about making the transition to a zero-carbon future and averting catastrophic climate change.

In producing this list we have focussed on energy, population and consumption as the three key drivers of climate change in Scotland and could have produced many more proposals than this. But these are some of the big landmark steps which Scotland could not only achieve now but, recognising our duty to lead, where we could set a precedent for others to follow.

Our aim is to build a better, greener, fairer Scotland – a Scotland which puts all of us first, creates resilience and protects our natural resources and biodiversity.


The 21 actions we are calling for are as follows:

1. Build a Green New Deal
Scotland needs a comprehensive, coordinated plan which delivers major social benefits while tackling climate change

2. Start our own energy company
A National Energy Company will let us build and control the infrastructure Scotland needs to decarbonise

3. Plan our energy future
Setting up a Scottish Energy Development Agency enables us to plan the infrastructure we need in the public good

4. Build what we need in the right way
By establishing a National Infrastructure Company we can ensure that the infrastructure we need is built to the highest standard and owned by the public

5. Leave no-one without a warm house
A proper, coordinated plan of increasing energy efficiency for all homes without exception will help householders and reduce carbon

6. Capture waste heat and use it
If we introduce a Heat Supply Act it can require large producers of waste heat to capture and recycle that heat for public use

7. Future-proof the electricity grid
We must commit to long-term investment in local electricity grid reinforcement, management and energy storage to prepare for a secure, renewable energy future

8. Fair connection charges for Scotland’s power
Renewable energy production in Scotland pays a very high cost for feeding it into the grid – this is unjust and must be reformed

9. End coal, end nuclear
Scotland has bountiful renewable energy resources and has no need for dangerous and polluting fuels and energy technologies

10. No new oil
Scotland must ban new oil and gas exploration and set out a route map for phasing out all fossil fuels

11. Train a renewables workforce
To transition people from the fossil fuel and nuclear industries and prepare them for a renewable future we should set up a ‘one-stop shop’ for retraining

12. Back a green hydrogen road-map
Scotland needs clear guidance on how we develop and use Green Hydrogen so we can built this new industry as quickly and efficiently as possible

13. Make energy efficiency meaningful
The way we measure the thermal performance of buildings is riddled with problems so we must reform Energy Performance Certificates so they reflect reality

14. Measure the whole-life energy of houses
Include embodied energy (the energy needed to build a house, not just run it) in the next revision of the Building Standards

15. Energy-efficient appliances only
The energy rating of electrical appliances is about to be revised, so choose now to ban the sale of appliances with ratings below the new C level

16. Make localism work
Prioritising localism has enormous energy-saving benefits so make all neighbourhoods ‘20-minute neighbourhoods’

17. Set a legal right to homeworking
Homeworking saves energy and time, so while not everyone can or wants to home work and no-one should be forced, anyone who does should be given the right to do so

18. Fewer cruise ships
Cruise ships are environmentally damaging and don’t help the economy so Scotland should introduce a quota for cruise ships entering Scottish waters and ports

19. Explore a flights quota
There is no green alternative to the way we fly available so we must limit our flights with flight quotas, a moratorium on airport expansion and investment in airships

20. Divest from fossil fuel
Require all public sector bodies to commit to divesting from fossil fuels in the next year

21. Clean politics
End the influence fossil fuel lobbyists have over our politics by signing up to the Fossil Free Politics campaign

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