Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Scotland: world's greenest nation?

For all kinds of reasons, I love living in Scotland. One of them is the fact that I can pay for 100% renewable electricty for what is now a lower price than most of those who are relying on fossil fuels.

Indeed, Scotland is something of a world leader in its carbon reduction goals. Scotland has the world's most ambitious legally-binding carbon reduction goals (42% from 1990 levels by 2020 - compare Australia's target of a 5% reduction from 2000 levels by 2020). It is also aiming to produce enough renewable electricity to cover 100% of domestic demand by 2020, and is largely on track towards this goal. It is leading the field in research into some promising new varieties of renewable power based on waves and tides.

But the current Scottish Nationalist government also plans to exploit its large (though rapidly declining) North Sea oil and gas reserves, which, when extracted, refined, sold and burned, will add something like 5-10 billion tonnes of CO2. It will take many decades for the emissions saved by the previously mentioned targets to "pay off" this carbon debt. The value of these reserves is critical to the government's economic case for Scottish independence, yet exploiting them seriously undermines the image of an independent and green Scotland that First Minister Salmon wants to sell.

In the end, if we want a habitable planet that bears any resemblance to the one we currently enjoy, we need to leave the vast majority of fossil hydrocarbons safely underground.


byron smith said...

Norway, another oil rich small nation with strong green ambitions, announces new plans.

There are some really good elements in this.