Campigners want new normal to be greener and fairer
Massive pressure from civil society organisations is bearing down on the Scottish Government demanding post-covid action on the environment.
A coalition of 80 groups including Oxfam, Friends of the Earth, Unison and Poverty Alliance Scotland is calling for a recovery that delivers a fairer and greener Scotland.
The new coalition is asking for the Scottish Government to prioritise essential public services, and claims national policies should promote more equal wealth distribution, with minimum income guarantees.
In an open letter, the groups say the coronavirus response has included incredible displays of community solidarity, financial support to protect vulnerable people and for many, a chance to evaluate what is really important in their lives.
A return to “pre-virus business as usual is both unrealistic and unwanted,” the letter states.
Peter Kelly, director of Poverty Alliance said: “Since the start of this crisis, we have seen the strength of compassion and solidarity at the heart of our communities. But we have also seen that our economy is failing to live up to these values.
“Our social security system and labour market have failed to protect too many of us from the grip of poverty: particularly women, disabled people and people from black and minority ethnic communities. Even before Covid-19 arrived, one in five people in Scotland was living in poverty.
“As we plan our economic recovery, we must build back better. We must design a more just taxation system, provide affordable and accessible public services, build a labour market that works for everyone, and ensure that everyone has an income that meets their needs.”
Caroline Rance, Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Scotland said there was a chance to transform society and the economy in a way that puts people and the planet first.
“The Scottish Government’s recovery plan must lay the foundations for a fairer, greener future,” she said.
"We need huge public investment in good, green jobs and a just transition to a zero carbon economy.
“By ensuring that Scotland does its fair share of international climate action we can help mitigate the devastation of unchecked climate breakdown.”
It comes weeks after concerns were raised by the environmental sector about the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery’s lack of green credentials.
It was appointed by economy secretary Fiona Hyslop in April with Benny Higgins, executive chairman of Buccleuch Estates and former chief executive of Tesco Bank, as its chair.
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented global crisis which has fundamentally changed every aspect of our lives and the immediate focus for Government continues, rightly, to be on protecting lives and livelihoods.
“We also recognise that the dual emergencies of climate change and biodiversity loss have not gone away and must form a central part of our recovery from this difficult time.
"We welcome this contribution to our discussions on how we can deliver a green recovery and a just transition to net zero as we explore the new challenges and opportunities we face.”