Scottish Government pledges to ‘maximise’ public money in climate change fight

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Scotland’s Net Zero Secretary has pledged to “maximise” public money in the fight against climate change.

This week, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes outlined indicative spending plans for the remainder of the parliamentary term, with a focus on increased funding for health and social security.

Michael Matheson said on Friday the Government face a “challenging” fiscal situation due to rising inflation and energy prices increasing the cost of living, adding that they will “redouble our focus on efficiency, structural change and collaboration”.

The push for net zero was also given a funding increase, from £1.6 billion to almost £2.1 billion by the end of the parliament in 2026.

But the review said the Government would move from a public funding model to one that is reliant more on private investment.

“To harness this investment effectively and maximise the impact of collective action to address the climate crisis, activity to move from a funding to financing policy model will be scaled up to ensure that future climate change policy leverages private sector investment and action, better amplifying the impact of public investment,” the resource spending review said.

The review also pledges cash for low carbon heating, woodland creation, active travel and peatland restoration, along with funding for a just transition.

“This spending review comes at a critical point in the global challenge to address the climate crisis,” Mr Matheson said.

“Tangible global action is becoming ever more urgent, and Scotland is committed to playing its part with some of the most ambitious, legally-binding targets in the world.

“That is why our future spending plans prioritise investment in the package of measures to tackle climate change and deliver a just transition – as set out in our updated climate change plan.”

He added: “But, as the Finance Secretary set out earlier this week, the challenging fiscal environment in the coming years means we must redouble our focus on efficiency, structural change and collaboration.

“That is why I am committed to ensuring we maximise every penny of public investment, working collaboratively with the private sector and our communities to accelerate delivery of public policies that will reduce emissions, build resilience to the impacts which are locked in, tackle biodiversity loss and help to create a fairer, greener society.”

The Scottish Government has already sought to harness private investment in green energy, with the ScotWind leasing round allowing major firms to build offshore wind farms off the coast, raising £700 million for the public purse with ministers claiming up to £25 billion in benefits could be seen in the Scottish supply chain.

But opposition MSPs have claimed the Scottish Government are allowing the “offshoring” of profit, with the companies who control the wind farms reaping the benefits of the energy they produce.

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