Greens say Scottish Government is ducking low-carbon demands

By agency reporter
29 Oct 2011

At the Scottish Green Party's annual conference in Aberdeen on 29 October 2011, co-leader Patrick Harvie MSP has accused the Scottish Government of "hypocrisy and double-speak" on key environmental issues.

In a hard-hitting speech, Mr Harvie declared: "[First Minister] Alex Salmond now has a very clear and simple choice - he must either fail on Scotland's much-vaunted climate change targets, or he must drop his unconditional support for the fossil fuel industries.

"First, the new coal-fired power station at Hunterston must be blocked. Then he must rule out shale gas extraction, which his Energy Minister has refused to do. Then, because CCS (carbon capture and storage) can never be applied to most uses of oil anyway, he must drop his support for dangerous deepwater oil drilling in Scottish waters.

"The challenge with fossil fuels is not to burn all the reserves we already know about, let alone to go looking for more. The priority has to be energy efficiency and renewables.

"The SNP can't run a high-carbon and low-carbon economy simultaneously. It's time to choose," said the Green leader.

On taxation, Patrick Harvie said: "Scotland must not aim to be the tax haven of the north - the tax avoidance loopholes must close.Over recent months we've seen the nauseating sight of the notorious tax exile Jim McColl admitting to a Holyrood committee under questioning from Alison Johnstone that he has stashed his personal fortune in a tax haven, and then argue that MSPs' first priority with new powers should be to cut his corporation tax bill too.

"Legal tax avoidance is one of the key mechanisms which has allowed the gap between the rich and poor to grow so scandalously wide. If we care about social justice and a more equal Scotland, we should start cracking down on this parasitic behaviour right now. Let's start with the use of
business rates and public procurement to give an advantage to businesses which pay their fair share, and penalise those which use tax havens and other tax avoidance scams."

"Scottish Greens need to learn lessons from Brighton where Greens are now running the Council and Caroline Lucas is Britain's first Green MP," said Harvie.

"It's not enough to have policies we know will benefit Scotland and the world. It's not enough to make a difference inside the political bubble. If we're going to make a real difference in Scottish politics, the difference we know is needed, we need to reproduce what the Brighton and Hove Greens have done," he concluded.

The Scottish Green Party conference, taking place in Aberdeen this weekend, is the last of the British party conference season.

[Ekk/3]

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