Scotland business

Scottish Power urges tougher climate change laws

Whitelee wind farm Image copyright Scottish Power

Scottish Power has called for new, tougher climate change laws to help increase green energy projects.

The energy giant said a UK target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 should be made legally binding.

Its call came as the UK's biggest onshore wind farm - Whitelee near Glasgow - reached its 10th anniversary.

The UK government said it was "on a path to become the first major economy to legislate to end our contribution to global warming entirely".

Last week a group of leading climate scientists wrote to the prime minister calling for her to enshrine a target for net-zero emissions in national law.

Their letter came after the government's independent climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), urged ministers to set a new legal target for a 100% cut in all greenhouse gases by the middle of the century as soon as possible.

Net-zero is the point where the same volume of greenhouse gases is being emitted as is being absorbed through offsetting techniques like forestry.

Whitelee facts and figures:

The wind farm, developed and operated by Scottish Power Renewables (SPR), consists of 215 turbines, generating up to 539MW of electricity.

A study on behalf of Scottish Power found Whitelee's total generation of green energy to date equated to about 90% of the annual household electricity consumption of Scotland.

Whitelee is located on Eaglesham Moor to the south of Glasgow and covers an area of about 83km2.

Scottish Power Renewables chief executive Lindsay McQuade said: "We know that renewable energy generation needs to quadruple and we know that onshore wind is the cheapest form of green energy.

"If we are to meet the bold target of net-zero by 2050, our ambition has to be underpinned by legislation.

"UK power sector emissions have continued to fall since the Climate Change Act was passed in 2008, pushing Scotland to become coal-free.

"The same approach is now needed to ensure industry takes all available measures to increase the amount of new renewable generation that is essential to decarbonisation."

World 'first'

A UK government spokeswoman said: "We lead the world in tackling climate change, being the first country to introduce long-term legally-binding carbon reduction targets and cutting emissions further than all other G20 countries.

"The Committee on Climate Change's report, commissioned by the government, now sets us on a path to become the first major economy to legislate to end our contribution to global warming entirely and we will respond in a timeframe which reflects the urgency of the issue."

This week Chancellor Philip Hammond warned Theresa May that reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050 could cost the UK more than £1tn.

The Scottish government is planning to legislate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2045, after accepting the advice set out by the CCC in May.

'Hugely successful'

Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said the "hugely effective and successful" Whitelee wind farm showed "the important role onshore wind plays, both in generating clean energy, and in contributing to our economy".

He added: "We have recognised that the global community faces a climate emergency and have taken swift action by lodging amendments to our Climate Change Bill and, in the event the bill is passed, Scotland will end its contribution to climate change within a generation."

Scottish Power is not the only big energy firm investing in wind power in Scotland.

SSE said its Beatrice offshore wind farm in the Moray Firth recently generated the most electricity of any single renewable source in Scotland.

The Perth-based company has also been investing in projects to develop offshore wind in the outer Firth of Forth and Firth of Tay.

For the latest business news as it happens, follow BBC presenter Andrew Black's updates each weekday morning on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme between 0600 and 0900.

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