Malcolm stresses the importance of environmentally protective buildings
Debate on Climate Change Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab):

Malcolm with a shef of documents talking to two women in the Scottish Parliament Malcolm Chisholm at the lobby over the Scottish Climate Change Bill in June 2009 We all know that we face an enormous challenge, given that, if there are no changes to the EU emissions trading scheme, a 47 per cent reduction in emissions will probably be required in the non-traded sector. As a result, we must be very bold in the positive actions that we take and avoid the negatives at all costs. In that respect, I totally agree with Patrick Harvie that we should reject the largely unabated coal-fired power station proposal for Hunterston.

Of course, good things are happening. For example, I was very pleased by this week's leasing announcement, particularly as it included Pelamis Wave Power, which is based in Leith. However, the announcement was put into perspective by comments from Professor Stephen Salter of the University of Edinburgh, a key figure in the development of wave power, who said that all that was given was a licence and none of the necessary financial support. A month ago today, I visited Pelamis and heard about the issues that it faces.

For example, although it does not use a large part of the building in which it is based, the size and height of the building are still taken into account in the rates bill. I have written to the minister on the matter but I believe that, if something cannot be done about such issues, other kinds of financial support must be given to Pelamis and other such companies. The previous Administration's wave and tidal energy support scheme is now closed to new applicants. I know that money is tight but in such times we must look to the long term and few things are more important to Scotland's future than the development of renewable energy.

In any case, the issue is not always money; will is also an issue, and that is certainly the case with regard to cycling. A couple of weeks ago, I praised the tackling obesity action plan's commitment to creating

"environments that make walking and cycling part of everyday life for everyone".

However, when a day or two later I received at my house the bulletin from the cycling organisation Spokes, I was alarmed to read on its front page that

"the SNP government could end up the only Scottish administration" since devolution "with total cycle investment lower in every year of office."

Simply moving a small part of the enormous roads budget could make an enormous difference to cycling.

I point out that at the moment very little cycle training is available for young people. Indeed, an article in the Edinburgh Evening News suggested that only one in six children in Edinburgh primary schools receive such training.

The motion refers to public procurement, including public sector vehicle procurement, which is highlighted in the climate change delivery plan. Five years ago, when I was a minister, I was driven around in a hybrid car, which the driver took great pleasure in, and I am astonished to hear that the majority of cars bought by the present Administration have been traditional vehicles. The Government must do something about that, and it must put something about low-carbon procurement in the guidance to local authorities that it must issue under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009.

The built environment is obviously key. We must get a move on with universal home insulation and with the council tax rebate for energy efficiency and microgeneration measures. The scheme that was announced in Edinburgh this week is inadequate. It comes to only 60, and people have to use Scottish Gas for the work. It is a start, I admit, but much more is needed. We must also get on with permitted development rights for microgeneration. I am sorry to mention my own time in office again, but despite my consulting on the matter in 2006, there is still a proposal on requiring microturbines to be 100m away from the nearest building.

Can we do something about listed building and planning consent for double glazing and similar measures, applications for which are often rejected? The whole Government needs to work across departments on the climate change agenda.

Finally, we must get on with the public engagement strategy.
March 18th 2010, (Column 24706-7)