25 September 2023

Humza Yousaf has ‘no intention to change’ key net zero targets

25 September 2023

The Scottish Government has “no intention to change” target dates for key environmental initiatives such as the switch away from gas boilers in new buildings, First Minister Humza Yousaf has declared.

Mr Yousaf accepted his Government would need to consider the implications of changes in target dates announced last week by Rishi Sunak but insisted that in Scotland the “plans remain unchanged”.

His comments came after the Prime Minister announced he was pushing back the end point for the sale of petrol and diesel cars, which had been planned for 2030, by five years to 2035.

Meanwhile, a ban on the installation of new gas boilers was delayed 10 years until 2035.

We certainly won’t be looking to roll back or abdicate our political responsibility in the way the Prime Minister clearly is

The Scottish Government’s Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan has already criticised the timescale changes as “an unforgivable betrayal of current and future generations”, claiming Mr Sunak had “put the UK on the wrong side of history” in the fight against climate change.

On Monday, Mr Yousaf insisted there was “no intention to change” the current Scottish Government policy on heating systems – which sets out that from next year new buildings should use a “zero direct emissions heating system”, such as a heat pump or heat network.

Speaking after attending UN climate talks in New York last week, Mr Yousaf said discussions there had focused on “how the world needs to do more, not less, in the face of a climate catastrophe”.

The First Minister insisted: “So, Scotland isn’t looking to roll back on any of its measures.

“What we have to look at is the detail of the Prime Minister’s statement and understand how that might affect any of our climate ambitions here.

“But we certainly won’t be looking to roll back or abdicate our political responsibility in the way the Prime Minister clearly is.

“There’s no intention to change.”

SNP Westminster energy spokesman Dave Doogan has already suggested the UK Internal Market could force the Scottish Government to follow the UK’s example, keeping new petrol and diesel cars for sale till 2035.

Asked about that date, Mr Yousaf said: “There’s certainly no intention to roll back.”

He added: “We do have to look at what the implication would be of the UK deciding to roll back, deciding to delay that phasing-out.

“There’s no intention to roll back but we do have to look at the implication of what the Prime Minister has announced.”

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