The budget responds directly to the global climate emergency by proposing an ambitious package of measures to help to deliver our transition to being a greener and fairer nation. That has been recognised by Chris Stark, the chief executive of the United Kingdom Committee on Climate Change, who said that climate change is
“taking centre stage in Scotland’s Budget”.
We are investing more than £250 million of multi-annual funding in peatland restoration, introducing a new £120 million package to deliver a heat transition deal and to begin decarbonising our heat usage, delivering an initial £40 million for the agricultural transformation programme, and investing more than £100 million in active travel.
I could also mention the total low-carbon capital investment of around £1.8 billion in 2020-21, which is £500 million more than in 2019-20. By taking decisive action now in areas that are challenging to decarbonise, we have shown our commitment to tackling the global climate emergency.
Local authorities have a critical role to play in responding to the climate emergency. What steps is the Scottish Government taking to incentivise local authorities to use the assets and levers that are at their disposal to reduce emissions and boost the economy, including the green growth accelerator that was announced as part of this year’s budget?
It is true that local authorities and the rest of the public sector have a vital role to play in tackling the global climate emergency. That is why in the budget we have made significant commitments to supporting their efforts. Measures include the new £50 million heat networks early adopter challenge fund, which will allow local authorities to significantly expand, or instigate the development of, heat networks such as will be critical to decarbonising heat in our homes.
As Angus MacDonald mentioned, the green growth accelerator is another vital lever. At budget time this year, we made a £200 million multiyear commitment to delivering additional low-carbon investment through that mechanism.
We are committed to working closely with local government and the wider public sector to go further and faster towards net zero emissions for the benefit of all.
Dumfries and Galloway claims to be the birthplace of renewables because it was the first place to have onshore and offshore wind farms. Will the cabinet secretary accept my invitation to visit Dumfries and Galloway and explore how the region could be an exemplar for the 26th conference of the parties—COP26—of local action and partnership working to respond to the climate change challenge?
I get a distinct sense that a pincer movement on Dumfries and Galloway has emerged in the past 24 hours.
I am, of course, always happy to visit all parts of Scotland. If there are specific things that Finlay Carson wishes me to see or people he wishes me to speak to, we will do our best to fit that into my diary.