SCOTTISH ministers will be urged to carry out a radical overhaul of how fuel poverty is tackled – by ensuring warm homes for all are central to its climate change bill.

MSPs will vote on government proposals at Holyrood this week.
But in an eleventh hour intervention, Climate Change secretary Roseanne Cunningham and her fellow cabinet colleagues will be pressed to look again at how fuel poverty can be tackled.

It comes as temperatures are expected to dip, leaving thousands of Scots households suffering through winter.

Scottish Greens Energy and Climate Spokesperson Mark Ruskell MSP revealed he has laid a number of amendments to the bill, which will be debated by parliament this week, including a change that would force the Scottish

Government to improve the energy efficiency of Scotland’s homes.

He told The Herald: “Far too many families live in fuel poverty, unable to heat their homes adequately due to exorbitant energy prices and a lack of energy efficiency measures.

“That’s why I’m proposing changes to the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Bill.

“Everyone should be able to live comfortably, but we know that a far too many can’t and that often leads to damp and mould, which can cause serious health problems.”

He also stressed the benefits of energy efficiency for the climate, adding: “Fuel poverty also contributes to Scotland’s climate emissions. Poor energy efficiency means that many households are having to use far more energy than they need for heat.

“That’s why I’m demanding that the Scottish Government gets behind my proposal by committing to delivering warm homes for everyone. It makes sense for our health, wellbeing and for our planet.”

Recent figures show that Scotland’s homes are fierce emitters of carbon, largely because of the power needed for heating and for hot water.

It’s estimated that Scotland’s homes are responsible for the emission of six million tonnes of harmful carbon dioxide into our atmosphere every year, 15% of all emissions.

The Climate Bill goes to final vote in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday.
Environmental campaigners have already urged politicians to back stronger climate change targets.

Campaigners are pushing for a commitment to further action in the crucial next decade, with an 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Currently the Government has committed to overall net zero - or 100% - reduction in emissions by 2045.

Meanwhile, a Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) survey from June revealed one in 10 workers in Scotland was unable to pay a gas or electricity bill at least once last year due to a lack of money.

The poll, conducted for CAS by YouGov, found seven per cent of respondents had run out of funds once or twice, while 2% had done so “more than six times”.

Renewed definitions of fuel poverty in May revealed 583,000 Scottish households are in fuel poverty and 293,000 are in “extreme” fuel poverty.

Fuel poverty is defined as a household spending 10% of its net income on fuel costs after housing, care and childcare costs - while extreme fuel poverty is defined as 20% and over.

The Scottish Greens said they are establishing a climate emergency citizen’s assembly to ensure the people of Scotland have direct input on plans to tackle the climate crisis according to Scottish Greens Co-Leader Patrick Harvie MSP.

He said: “In June Extinction Rebellion challenged each of the political parties.

The Greens were challenged to deliver a climate emergency citizen’s assembly.

It’s vital that we get people’s voices into the debate about how we tackle the climate emergency, so I’m delighted that my colleague Mark Ruskell has been able to bring forward proposals to deliver this.

“On Friday thousands of young people walked out their classes to take part in the climate strike, highlighting the imminent threat posed by the climate crisis. It’s important we listen to these young people and allow them, along with a representative group of people from across Scotland, to feed into our response to this existential crisis.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland Climate Campaigner Caroline Rance said: “The climate strikes show that there is huge public demand for urgent action from the Scottish Government to bring down our climate emissions within the next decade.

“Setting an earlier date by which Scotland’s homes will be energy efficient is a much needed step towards reducing the climate impact of heating our homes.

“Because of the narrow scope of this bill there is no date specified for these improvements, however the amendment lodged by Green MSP Mark Ruskell will mean that Ministers must set out their plans for speeding up home energy efficiency measures. 

“We encourage all other parties to vote for this amendment on Wednesday, and would like to see every home reach an energy rating of at least C by 2030 at the latest.

“Too many people in Scotland live in cold, leaky homes which inflict a host of health problems as well as costing people far more in their energy bills. By investing in ensuring every home is a warm home we can deliver a boost to public health as well as tackling a huge source of climate emissions.”

It comes as a new £30 million fund for low-carbon heating infrastructure is now open for projects to make applications. The Scottish Low Carbon Heat Funding is being made available to businesses and organisations working on innovative solutions to heating buildings.

Financial support will account for 50% of the total eligible costs of a capital project - including those focused on reducing emissions - up to a maximum of £10 million. Ad the funding is part of a wider Low Carbon Infrastructure

Transition Programme which was introduced by the Scottish Government in March 2015 in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Futures Trust and sector specialists.

Scotland’s Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “It’s estimated that Scotland’s homes are responsible for the emission of six million tonnes of harmful carbon dioxide into our atmosphere every year, 15% of all emissions.

“In order to meet Scotland’s ambitious proposed climate change targets, we estimate that nearly every Scottish home - unless already on a renewable heat supply - will need to have a change to its heating system by 2045, if not before.

“The Scottish Government is already making inroads to that target, by committing to ensuring that all new homes use renewable or low carbon heat by 2024, but we also want to create an environment where existing homes transition to renewable solutions as well.

“The problem is too big for the government to tackle on its own, so we are tapping into the significant expertise and talent that exists within Scotland - giving people the means to take the initiative and effect change through deployment of innovative, low carbon approaches to heating.”

“By taking this approach we’re also supporting jobs, building skills, and ultimately creating end products with an environmental and social benefit.”