Dr Sam Gardner is Head of Policy at WWF Scotland. In a new blog post he outlines why low carbon infrastructure, alongside a strong climate action plan, is vital to preventing dangerous climate change and ensuring Scotland leads the way in a global transition to a smart, low carbon future.
In 2050 the world will need to look quite different if we are to have fulfilled our commitment to prevent dangerous climate change. What Scotland looks like in 2050 will depend on the decisions we make in the next few years. What we invest in, how we spend our capital budget, will determine if we are putting ourselves on the path for a low carbon future- and all the environmental, social and economic benefits that will bring- or committing us to a high carbon path that will have to be addressed- expensively and inevitably.
I have joined the Low Carbon Infrastructure Task Force as I think it offers an exciting opportunity to identify the building blocks of Scotland’s low carbon future. It will draw on expertise in finance, law, poverty reduction, behaviour change and much more besides to make the case for our future infrastructure priorities. WWF have long worked on trying to secure the right climate change policies, and we will continue that work, but we must also look at how the Scottish Government is spending its capital budget – is it grasping the opportunities of low carbon infrastructure, or is it committing us to a high carbon future that we will eventually have to address?
Low carbon infrastructure can bring social, economic and environmental benefits. But it will need public sector leadership to build investor confidence, to demonstrate what new technologies can offer, to support a strategic and integrated approach to infrastructure development, to help break the high carbon status quo.
Through the rigorous process the Task Force has established, of independent advice, stakeholder engagement, peer review and public engagement, my hope is that its recommendations for future Low carbon infrastructure projects secure strong cross party support and are taken forward for further development and eventual implementation. The next infrastructure investment plan must be a low carbon infrastructure investment plan. It must not just sit alongside the forthcoming climate action plan, but support it and enable it to deliver.
Scotland is not alone in this effort, the recent report from The Global Commission on Economy and Climate showed that cities built on low carbon infrastructure could spur economic activity and secure a better quality of life – at the same time as cutting carbon pollution. The smart, low carbon cities of the future are actually happening right now around the world, it is my hope that this initiative will help accelerate Scotland’s efforts to join those that are leading this global transition.
Find out more about the work of WWF Scotland on climate change, energy and sustainability