The Scottish Government has the opportunity to set ambitious energy targets that are in harmony with nature in its forthcoming "Scottish Energy Strategy" says RSPB Scotland.
Climate change is recognised as the single biggest threat worldwide to people and nature. By 2050 Scotland's target is to have reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 80%. A major part of this challenge is decarbonising our energy supply.
Last year RSPB Scotland published new research that showed Scotland's 2050 climate target can be achieved using high levels of renewable energy, with low risk for wildlife and protected areas. The report, "RSPB's 2050 Energy Vision" set out 10 recommendations for Scotland to realise a low carbon energy future without harming wildlife (1).
Now ahead of the publication of the strategy expected next week, the conservation organisation is calling on the Scottish Government to ensure that it maximises this opportunity to transform and decarbonise Scotland's energy system.
Aedán Smith, Head of Planning and Development at RSPB Scotland said: "This really is a monumental opportunity for the Scottish Government to commit the country's future to wildlife friendly low carbon energy. We're currently a long way from meeting our 2050 climate target - this Scottish Energy Strategy is the chance for the Government to show how serious it is about meeting this.
"Our research has shown that with careful planning, it is possible to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions without significantly harming our natural environment. We want the Government to take on this challenge, and produce a roadmap for decarbonising our energy system in harmony with nature - this means making sure renewables go in the right places, supporting innovative technologies, and improving our understanding of how wildlife is affected.
"We'd like to see comprehensive ambitious targets, in line with our 10 recommendations, that cover not only how energy is produced but also how we use that energy to heat our homes and power our cars, and how demand for energy is managed and met. Committing to sourcing 50% of Scotland's energy from renewable sources by 2030 would send out a strong message that Scotland is dedicated to achieving its 2050 climate target whilst also protecting our amazing wildlife."
1. RSPB Scotland's 10 recommendations for achieving low carbon energy in harmony with nature in Scotland are:
1. Set the ambition: 50% renewable energy by 2030
2. Use a plan-led approach to help identify suitable sites and minimise conflicts
3. Develop a roadmap for decarbonisation in harmony with nature
4. Eliminate energy waste, including measures to improve energy performance of buildings
5. Invest in understanding the impacts of different technologies on wildlife, to help developers progress schemes in the right places, and to ensure they can enhance nature wherever possible
6. Invest in innovation to unlock low carbon technologies such as energy storage and floating wind turbines
7. Transform low carbon heat and transport: set targets for renewable heat and zero emissions vehicles
8. Make economic incentives work for nature and the climate, including support for well-sited onshore wind and solar energy
9. Set robust standards to ensure bioenergy benefits, rather than harms wildlife
10. Support a grid network that accommodates high levels of renewable energy
2. The report, 'The RSPB's 2050 Energy Vision', is available on the RSPB's website rspb.org.uk/energyfutures