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GE2019: SNP lauds Scotland’s energy success, Plaid Cymru eye greencollar jobs

SNP party leader Nicola Sturgeon in 2017. Image: SNP.

SNP party leader Nicola Sturgeon in 2017. Image: SNP.

As campaigning for the 12 December general election gets well underway, the Scottish National Party (SNP) and Wales' Plaid Cymru have published their manifestos, detailing their climate ambitions.

SNP: A Green New Deal to expand renewables

The biggest party in Scotland, the SNP has launched its manifesto in Glasgow, promising expansions to renewables as part of a Green Energy Deal.

The party’s leader, Nicola Sturgeon, praised the advances the renewables industry has made in Scotland already, highlighting the countries extensive wind generation.

“Nearly 75% of Scotland’s electricity in 2018 came from renewable sources, and we’ve doubled our exports of renewable electricity to the rest of the UK.

“We’re also investing over £10 million in the marine energy sector and tidal innovation, as well as developing a bioenergy action plan through cutting-edge research”

The party is pledging to further expand the nation's renewables, including a £3 billion portfolio of projects first announced in September, which includes renewables, along with waste and construction projects.

In particular, the manifesto says that the party will allow onshore wind and solar power to bid for Contracts for Difference, seeking to ensure young technologies such as floating wind and tidal stream generation are also supported through the scheme. Meanwhile new nuclear power will be opposed.

These renewables would form a key part in the country's efforts to reduce emissions by 75% by 2035, to reach net zero carbon emissions “no later” than 2040 and net zero on all emissions by 2045.

“We will propose a Green Energy Deal that will ensure green energy schemes get the long-term certainty needed to support investment and that a UK Government plays its part in delivering a Green New Deal for Scotland,” said the manifesto.

Electric Vehicles (EVs) will be encouraged, and the party will campaign for the UK government to match the Scottish target of ending the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2032.

This will be funded through ring-fencing the revenues generated by the oil and gas industry over the next five years to 2023/24.

“We will demand the ring-fencing of oil and gas receipts, creating a Net Zero Fund, to help pay for the energy transition through investment in areas such as renewable energy, electric vehicles and carbon capture utilisation and storage.”

This is estimated to be worth £8.5 billion, and the SNP will demand that 12% of this, at least £1 billion over 5 years, will go specifically to oil hubs like Aberdeen, Falkirk and Shetland. This will help them transition and diversify their economies.

SNP MPs will put pressure on the UK government to accelerate carbon capture and storage as part of this, in particular in Scotland.

The party attacked the Conservatives for making decisions that were not in line with the desires of the people in Scotland, and urged greater action.

“For too long, reckless Tory policies have damaged the environment. From fracking – which harms wildlife, causes disruption and threatens to contaminate soil and water – to tax hikes on solar power and reducing support for offshore wind, recent UK governments have taken the wrong path on climate change. This short-sighted approach must end.”

Plaid Cymru: 100% renewable by 2030

The national party of Wales released its manifesto at the end of last week, pledging to make the country 100% self-sufficient in renewable energy by 2030.

“Wales has the natural resources to become a world leader in renewable technology and address the biggest global challenge of our time,” says the manifesto.

The manifesto’s energy pledges focus mainly around creating green jobs, with the party pledging to invest £20 billion in a ‘green jobs revolution.’ This would allow them to create tens of thousands of greencollar jobs.

This would be funded through a 1% increase in UK GDP allocation to Wales, along with borrowing £5 billion.

A number of projects are promised including tidal Lagoons for Swansea Bay, Cardiff and Colwyn Bay. There are also commitments for wind, with the plan to build an offshore windfarm at Ynys Môn. The party also says that it will also oppose new nuclear power sites.

Local energy is also touched one, with the promise of a network of local energy grids for Wales, and amendments to planning legislation to bring in a fast-track route for community-owned energy schemes.

Round-up of the rest

Whilst other parties, such as the UKIP and the Brexit Party have released manifestos - or in the Brexit Party's case several policy pledges over a traditional manifesto - energy does not form a substantial part of either. Whilst the latter does not mention renewables at all, the former pledges to scrap the Climate Change Act, bring back coal and end any subsidies for solar and wind.

All of the major political parties have released their manifestos, with energy featuring prominently in most, with many calling on this to be the ‘Climate Election.’

The Conservative Party focused on offshore wind, EV charging and domestic energy efficiency, but was criticised for its lack of detail and the exclusion of solar and storage within its plans.

The Labour Party’s manifesto included the pledge to make the energy mix 90% renewable by 2030, as well as plans for greencollar jobs and an expansion of EV infrastructure. However, some in the industry have expressed concern over the party’s nationalisation plans.

A spokesperson for E.On for example, said: “We need to overcome the scepticism of markets and private sector involvement in such services - in terms of customer benefits, investment and job creation.”

The Liberal Democrats made a number of energy pledges in their manifesto, including promising £12 billion worth of investment for the renewables sector.

The Green Party, the first to release their manifesto, pledged to reduce emissions, to make the UK carbon neutral by 2030 and to invest £100 billion a year for the next decade in climate action.

The party’s energy spokesperson, councillor Andrew Cooper, went into more detail in a recent interview with Current±.

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