Scotland's Programme for Government 2019 announced yesterday has a strong focus on climate change and lowering emissions. It also makes a number of commitments that are relevant to urban parks and greenspaces, biodiversity, green infrastructure, local food growing, active travel and energy. It acknowledges the vital role that green infrastructure provides:

“Greening of the urban environment improves quality of life in our towns and cities, enhances their environmental performance and climate resilience, as well as supporting regeneration and acting as a catalyst for economic investment. We are taking action to make sure that people in our urban areas are able to benefit from nature and nature-based solutions to climate change.”

Specific commitments include:

Local food growing

  • Working with business, the public and the third sector to develop guidance so more people are encouraged to eat more locally-produced, sustainable and healthy food that supports our aims on climate change.
  • Renewing the commitment to bringing forward a Good Food Nation Bill to underpin the significant work already being done – or planned – to deliver the Good Food Nation ambition in Scotland.

Green infrastructure and biodiversity

  • Continuing to support the Central Scotland Green Network, Europe's largest greenspace development. They will work with communities this year on projects which will benefit ecosystems and waterways and open Scotland's natural environment to more people.
  • Publishing a blueprint for the network, providing a targeted map that identifies the best opportunities for greenspace projects that will deliver the biggest climate change and biodiversity benefits to communities across the central belt.
  • Promoting healthy pollinator populations in central Scotland by developing the B-Lines project to form a framework for a pollinator network.
  • For woodland and forestry creation they will raise their ambition and commit to planting 12,000 hectares. This will be supported by an additional £5 million investment.
  • For improved biodiversity they will make an additional £2 million available to the Biodiversity Challenge Fund, funding further important projects which address biodiversity and climate change.

Green energy

  • Their next Energy Statement will set out the extent to which renewable and low carbon energy generation will need to combine in order to meet net zero, and they will monitor progress on an annual basis.
  • They will develop regulations so that new homes from 2024 must use renewable or low carbon heat and provide the Scottish Low Carbon Heat Funding Invitation targeting a minimum of £30 million of support for projects, including heat pumps, that demonstrate innovative and low carbon ways of heating buildings.
  • A new Heat Networks Bill will be introduced in 2019-20 to accelerate the deployment of heat networks across Scotland.
  • Their next Energy Statement will set out the extent to which renewable and low carbon energy generation will need to combine in order to meet net zero, and they will monitor progress on an annual basis.

Planning, regeneration and land use

  • Clyde Gateway in the east of Glasgow will become Scotland's first Green Regeneration Innovation District, working to decarbonise travel and energy for homes and businesses, and addressing the priorities of local people. It provides a model for place-based green regeneration which can be adopted elsewhere.
  • They will begin engagement on the fourth National Planning Framework in autumn this year. Through it, they will explore planning options that radically accelerate reduction of emissions. The global climate emergency means that the time is right for wide-ranging debate on more radical planning policy options.
  • By summer next year, they will publish a draft National Planning Framework which sets out how and where development should take place across Scotland for the period up to 2050.
  • New regional land use plans will be introduced to maximise the potential of every part of Scotland's land to contribute to the fight against climate change.

Active travel

  • The forthcoming National Transport Strategy has climate action as a top priority. It will enable people to make greener and cleaner transport choices to help deliver our net zero target.
  • They will continue to take forward the Active Travel work to make our towns and cities friendlier and safer places for pedestrians and cyclists, supporting more people to make sustainable travel choices, as well as contributing to better health for people across Scotland.
  • Funding investment in Active Travel of £80 million last year is enabling walking and cycling infrastructure to be developed across the country. The funding also supports infrastructure such as cycle storage, cycle racks and bicycles and enables urban design projects, behaviour change programmes, education projects and e-bike trials and grants.

Reducing emissions

  • Air pollution will be addressed through a new Air Quality Strategy in 2020. This will include a number of initiatives including new Low Emission Zones across Scotland transforming towns and cities into cleaner and healthier places to live, work and visit. The Green Growth Accelerator, termed a 'Green City Deal', will allow local authorities to invest in emissions-reducing infrastructure for their area.

Public procurement

  • New legislation will be introduced to revise public procurement regulations to require public projects to meet climate change obligations leveraging an existing annual public budget of £11 billion.