Pledges down the drain.

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tapsink.jpgThis article was sent in speculatively to the Scotsman around the half-anniversary of their green masthead edition. However, it didn't make the cut. I can see why. The tone didn't exactly fit with theirs.

"Six months ago The Scotsman made one of those very rare and striking changes to its masthead, turning the paper very visibly green, and partnering with the SNP government on the environment.

The public were invited to make ten modest pledges, from reducing car usage to turning the taps off while brushing their teeth.

Since then the paper has provided a substantial contribution to reporting about a range of environmental crises, including the threats to Scotland's seas, to the Balmedie dunes, and to our bees. One morning, readers were warned that the nuclear weapons at Faslane could explode in sequence as part of a phenomenon called "popcorning". Hardly a single issue has gone by without some discussion about climate change.

Those same six months have, however, seen almost total inactivity from the SNP government. Where is the environmental leadership they promised? On transport, they rammed through the M74 Extension despite opposition from the local community and every environmental group in the country, while letting bus fares rise and blocking progress on the railways.

Any occasional step forward is more than offset by some new step backwards. Several new wind projects have been cleared, and last week the SNP announced a renewables research joint project with the Irish Green Party's Minister for Energy. However, the previous press release had heralded "Scotland's largest ever coal supply contract", tying us into a long-term commitment to the dirtiest fossil fuel there is.

Most scandalously, the SNP manifesto pledged binding 3% annual cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Before their Climate Change Bill even came to Parliament, that's been dropped. At best, Salmond and Swinney have gone native. At worst, they recognise that they could never make cuts even that timid with their current policies on energy, food, transport and so on.

It's now up to Parliament to improve this legislation, otherwise the best we can hope for is that SNP Ministers keep brushing their teeth with the taps off."

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This page was published on July 16, 2008 5:41 PM.

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