by David Leask, Lizzie Roberts and Alistair Grant

Scotland is on the verge of a green energy industrial revolution as the country’s two main cities unveil ambitious plans to become the first in the UK to be fully carbon neutral.

Glasgow will today announce a dramatic roll-out of electric transport and heating systems as it bids to become the UK’s first, with the backing of energy giant ScottishPower.

The scheme – which faces competition from Edinburgh – will see new charging stations for electric cars, soon to rival petrol vehicles on price, announced within weeks.

Major cities across Europe are vying to cash in on renewable technology as the costs of clean power fall and governments set zero carbon deadlines.

Glasgow City Council feels it is in poll position – not least thanks to its engineering prowess and existing wind farms – to capitalise on this demand for new equipment, like charging stations and heat pumps.

The Herald:

Their announcement came after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who backs the scheme, officially announced a climate emergency The Environment Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, said a response to global warning “must be hardwired into our national psyche”.

Scotland has said it will get to net zero carbon by 2045 – meaning it will no longer contribute to climate change.

That, say many campaigners, is too late, but it is also earlier than many other nations.

READ MORE: ScottishPower chief executive: 'The world is changing and we can share in renewables'

Ms Cunningham’s renewed commitment came after Chris Stark, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change, warned government policy must match its ambitions.

He told MSPs in Holyrood: “It is not credible to have a net-zero target unless there is policy to match and at the moment we don’t have that policy.”

READ MORE: Susan Aitken: Glasgow can lead the UK to zero carbon future 

But the Scottish and UK governments will today be warned that they will fail to meet their targets if they continue to approve new North Sea developments.

A new report by Friends of the Earth said no new oil and gas fields should be approved and current subsidies for hydrocarbons redirected to clean, green energy.

Authors stressed that the new industries – wind energy, marine renewables and energy efficiency retrofits – could generate far more jobs than oil and gas.

Some workers’ skills can be directly applied to renewable energy installation, such as scaffolders and marine tackle its poor record on air quality.

It is also home to the UK’s biggest onshore wind farm, Whitelee, which is owned by ScottishPower.

That, said Mr Anderson, along with its engineering pedigree, gives it the edge over other British cities.

But both ScottishPower and the city council see Glasgow as a perfect test bed for green power because of the challenges it poses, as well as the advantages.

They recognise that densely personnel who “work interchangeably on oil and gas and wind installations in many cases”.

Oil expertise is seen as another major advantage as Scotland aims to cash in on renewables.

Friends of the Earth said there was still work to be done, warning Scotland’s “current trajectory” of, in their view, little to no support for renewable energy would mean those oil jobs would not be replaced.

ScottishPower chief populated multi-storey neighbourhoods are harder for electric car charging.

And they admit they want to show they can deliver zero carbon – and the lower prices that brings – to poor places as well as rich ones.

Ms Sturgeon welcomed the announcement.The Herald: nicola sturgeon conference pa.jpg

Nicola Sturgeon

She said: “This month’s report from the Committee on Climate Change underlined the scale of the climate emergency.

That is why the Scottish Government moved quickly with changes to our Climate executive Keith Anderson was more upbeat. He said: “Scotland has rightly put itself at the top of the race to become net zero quicker than other places round the world.

“To succeed, our biggest city has to be the most ambitious and progressive in removing carbon emissions.

“We have a large supply of renewable energy on our doorstep and one of only two Low Emission Zones (LEZ) in action across the UK. Change Bill to set a net zero target for Scotland by 2045.

“Today’s announcement between Scottish Power and Glasgow City Council – to make Glasgow the UK’s first ‘net zero’ city – is a very welcome step. “Reaching our goals will need exactly this kind of partnership approach – with Government, business, local authorities and citizens all playing their part.”

Authorities will have to convince people to change.

“Now, we need to invest in the technologies and programmes that transform the rest of Glasgow’s economy and make us net zero before anyone else.

“It is our hope that this declaration kick-starts a race to zero with other ambitious cities, like Edinburgh, because then we will all be winners. The prize is the future of our country and our planet.”

Glasgow has already established the first LEZ outside of London as it aims to their boilers to new technology, such as electric heat pumps, and try new kinds of cars, lorries and buses.

But their biggest problem will be increasing output. Mr Anderson, speaking ahead of a major Glasgow speech, said: “We need to generate more power and that power has to be renewable. We need to double production and quadruple renewable production.

“The cost of that renewable power is coming down every month. We stand ready to invest.”

His concern is the current lack of appetite from the UK Government for onshore wind, despite public support. Scotland will need more wind farms and bigger turbines to get anywhere close to staving off its share of the climate catastrophe.

Mr Anderson said: “We need to get real. There are some harsh realities in life and one of them is to tackle climate change, we just need to get on with it.”