Environment

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:06 pm on 21st February 2007.

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Photo of Shiona Baird Shiona Baird Green 4:06 pm, 21st February 2007

We must recognise that there are quite a few supposed environmentalists who have changed their views. However, all their arguments can be undermined by the facts. There are myths and there are facts and it is the facts that we need to concentrate on.

The new Labour way of doing business seems to be to decide what it is going to do, carry out a figleaf consultation exercise to offer a veneer of respectability and then arrive, as if by magic, at the number that it first thought of. However, we now know that such an approach is not only profoundly unethical, it is also unlawful.

We also agree with the SNP that Scotland has an enormous potential for renewables. I urge Alex Johnstone to listen to my next statement. The Executive's figures show that Scotland could generate more than 200,000GW hours of electricity each year if we took full advantage of the renewables that are available to us. Given that we consume only around 35,000GW each year, it is clear that there need be no gap in the generation of electricity.

However, the SNP's assertion that developing our renewable resource is the quickest, most effective, safest and least expensive energy option ignores energy efficiency, which is disappointing. Just as with waste management, in relation to which there is a reduce, reuse and recycle hierarchy, there is an energy reduction hierarchy. First, we must eliminate as much waste as possible. Secondly, we must ensure that the conversion of energy is carried out as efficiently as possible. In parallel with that, we must generate a clean supply of renewable energy.

Scotland could reduce its overall energy demand—I am talking about total energy, not just electricity—by between one quarter and one third if we put our minds to it. However, energy efficiency continues to be the poor cousin of more glamorous energy issues, despite the fact that it offers so much at so little cost. Research from the UK Government's performance and innovation unit showed that most energy efficiency measures are available at a net negative cost. Energy efficiency does not cost money; it saves money. That is why we felt that we had to amend the SNP motion.

Renewable, decentralised energy and energy efficiency must go hand in hand. As we focus on renewables we must, equally, consider the enormous gains that energy efficiency can make. Only then will we achieve the kind of energy future that Scotland needs and deserves.

I move amendment S2M-5607.2, to leave out from "welcomes" to end and insert:

"recognises that developing a sustainable energy policy is one of the most serious environmental challenges currently facing Scotland, given the need to reduce our climate changing emissions; believes that Scotland's energy future is best served by a combination of energy conservation, energy efficiency and clean decentralised production of energy; notes that nuclear power remains an expensive, dangerous and fundamentally unsustainable power source that is by no means carbon-free and that the long-term storage of radioactive waste continues to pose an insurmountable challenge to the nuclear industry; welcomes therefore the success of Greenpeace's judicial review of the UK Government's flawed consultation on nuclear power and hopes that a properly conducted consultation exercise will arrive at a more sustainable outcome; calls on the Scottish Executive to prepare and submit a timely response to the new UK energy review consultation which highlights the environmental, social and economic benefits offered by energy conservation and efficiency and renewable energy in Scotland, and calls on all political parties that oppose nuclear power to publicly rule out coalition with any party that refuses to rule out new nuclear build in Scotland."