Swinney appeals to Starmer to ‘think again’ on £28bn a year for green spending

Scotland’s First Minister has called on Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to “think again” and commit to spending £28 billion a year on green policies.

John Swinney said he was making a “genuine and direct appeal” to Sir Keir, who polls suggest will be the UK’s next prime minister by the end of next week.

A major U-turn in February saw Labour abandon its plans to spend £28 billion a year on environmental projects – with Sir Keir saying at the time his party had had to “readjust” its plans.

He added: “I would much rather be straight with the British public than make a promise I can’t keep.”

Mr Swinney however insisted that spending less than that would be insufficient, given the threat posed by climate change.

The SNP leader said: “Today, I am making a genuine and direct appeal to Sir Keir Starmer to think again and commit again to £28 billion of investment to achieve green growth and reach net zero.

“We believe that anything that falls below that level of ambition and investment will fail to meet the scale of this challenge and fail to grasp the opportunity of the emerging green economy.”

His comments came ahead of the SNP launching a climate and just transition manifesto, which sets out plans for an annual investment of £28 billion.

The SNP also wants the next UK government to at least match the £500 million already pledged by the Scottish Government for a transition fund for the north east of Scotland, where much of the UK’s oil and gas industry is centred.

Mr Swinney said the scale of the challenge posed by climate change requires leaders from different parties and governments to work together.

He said: “Fighting the climate emergency can’t descend into a typical political fight – it is a crisis that requires us to create unity and consensus across our politics and our communities.

Scottish First Minister and SNP leader John Swinney said he was making a ‘genuine and direct appeal’ to the UK Labour leader (Jane Barlow/PA)
Scottish First Minister and SNP leader John Swinney said he was making a ‘genuine and direct appeal’ to the UK Labour leader (Jane Barlow/PA)

“It is bigger than any political party, bigger than any one nation and it will remain the biggest issue facing every generation on this planet for decades, if not centuries to come.

“It must be central to this and every election campaign.”

However figures last week showed the Scottish Government had again failed to meet its own targets for reducing emissions, with nine of the past 13 targets having now been missed.

It also scrapped the interim target for Scotland to reduce its emissions by 75% by 2030, with ministers accepting this goal was “out of reach”.

Despite this Mr Swinney said Scotland had “shown early and sustained leadership in meeting our climate responsibilities”.

He added: “We were one of the first countries to declare a climate emergency and our target to reach net zero by 2045 is among the world’s most ambitious.”

The First Minister continued: “In the next few years, Scotland has the chance to offer a global template on how we achieve a just transition for workers and how we create a green future for everyone.

“Our climate and just transition manifesto is designed to achieve that ambition, with £28 billion of green investment at its heart.”

Grangemouth petrochemical plant in Grangemouth
There are fears about jobs at Grangemouth oil refinery (Jane Barlow/PA)

The SNP is also urging the next UK government to provide investment for the Grangemouth oil refinery in central Scotland – where plans to switch to an import terminal could happen as early as 2025, sparking fears about jobs.

And while Mr Swinney says the Scottish Government will require climate compatibility assessments to be carried out before it can back new oil and gas developments, the SNP wants action from Westminster to ban new coal licences.