The Scottish Government should abandon its plans to cut air passenger duty (APD) and introduce new business and road user taxes to discourage people from using planes and cars, an environmental coalition has said.
Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, a coalition of environment, faith and development organisations, trade and student unions and community groups, said the economic policies of Scotland’s political parties are “inconsistent” with their commitments to cut greenhouse gases.
It has launched a climate manifesto for the 2016 Holyrood election.
The manifesto states: “The next Scottish Government must ensure that its policies are coherent across all sectors.
“Policy coherence can ensure all government departments consider the wider impacts of their policies through a climate justice lens, avoiding contradictory policies that could have a negative impact on carbon emissions.”
Stop Climate Chaos said current spending on transport “is focused on enhancing use of the private car, which disproportionately benefits higher earners and men”.
“In the next Scottish Parliament we want to see a meaningful shift from private car to public transport and active travel,” it said.
“To deliver this, we want political parties to commit to measures that will reduce private car use, such as parking management, 20mph zones, a parking-spaces levy on workplaces, superstores and other big destinations, congestion charging or road user charging.”
It added: “Thirty percent of Scottish households do not have access to a car, and nearly 53% of Scotland’s poorest people do not have a driving licence.
“Nearly 40% of women in Scotland do not have a driving licence, compared to just 24% of men.”
It continued: “Scottish Government analysis of a 50% cut in APD shows an estimated consequential increase in climate emissions of the equivalent of up to 60,000 tonnes of CO2.
“Over half of the UK public do not fly in any given year. For most people, train fares have been rising – for longer, peak time journeys up to three times as fast as their wages – while the cost of air travel has reduced.”
It has also called for “a multibillion-pound capital investment programme, leveraging private funding, and the kind of clarity, purpose and focus that has been given to spanning the Forth or re-connecting the Borders railway” to make homes more energy efficient.
Establishing energy efficiency as a national infrastructure project would “generate a three-fold return in GDP for every pound invested by government”, it said.
The Stop Climate Chaos manifesto also calls for a Warm Homes Act, support for climate justice and a commitment to a land use strategy action plan.
Gail Wilson, SCCS campaigns manager, said: “First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said recently that moving to a low carbon future isn’t just a moral imperative, but also a massive economic opportunity.
“We are encouraged that she and the other four main party leaders in Scotland committed in August to manifestos that will deliver the ambitions of our world-leading climate legislation.
“Our message to them all today is that there are so many positive benefits from our seven policy asks that they are a win-win all round, delivering high-quality job opportunities, improved health and wellbeing and a more pleasant environment for everyone.”