‘The greatest responsibility of all that we owe to the next generation is to protect the planet.’ – Nicola Sturgeon

IN the throes of a conference speech, her section about the environment registered barely 3000 characters. Fewer than 700 words. 

They were weighted to the business end of the address, knowing the audience would be warmed up enough to still pay attention but greet them warmly.

But in those carefully scripted words, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set her government up to deliver on big, bold promises.

Here are the key passges in full.

We can make a difference every day – with decisions that benefit this and future generations.

The greatest responsibility of all that we owe to the next generation is to protect the planet.

In 2009, we passed world leading climate change targets and we met them.

Next year, we will go further.

A new climate change bill will set even more ambitious targets.

We will meet our obligations under the Paris Accord.

Conference

Every industrialised country, large or small, must play its part to meet our collective duty to safeguard the environment.

And let me be blunt about this.

That applies just as much to the White House as it does to Bute House.

Environmental campaigners recently described our programme for government as the greenest in the entire lifetime of the Scottish Parliament.

We should be proud of that.

In that programme, we committed to setting up Low Emissions Zones in our four biggest cities by 2020, to improve the quality of the air that we breathe.

The first of these will be in place by the end of next year and I am very pleased to announce today that it will be located here in the city of Glasgow.

Conference

We should also be proud of how we handle the difficult decisions involved in tackling climate change.

We don’t rush to judgment.

We weigh up the evidence.

We listen to the people.

And we come to clear conclusions.

Clear conclusions like this one –

Fracking is now banned in Scotland.

Tackling climate change is a moral obligation.

It is often seen as a challenge.

But it is also a massive opportunity.

Scotland can be a world leader in the technologies that will drive forward the low carbon economy of the future.

Jobs and investment are there to be won.

So we are leading by example.

We will end the need for new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032 – 8 years ahead of the rest of the UK.

An ambitious target, but one we know can be met.

In 2007, we pledged that by 2020, 50% of the electricity we consume would come from renewable sources.

Last year, ahead of schedule, we achieved 54%.

That’s great for our environment.

And the lesson for our economy is this – by leading the way in using new technology, we send a message to the world that Scotland is the best place to develop it.

Already, we are home to the largest tidal power array in the world.

And next week, we will celebrate a new global first.

I will officially open the world’s largest floating windfarm, situated right here in Scotland, off the coast at Peterhead.

Conference

Our ambition is simple –

To put ourselves in the driving seat of change.

That is why we are establishing a new National Manufacturing Institute and increasing our investment in business research and development.

And it is why we have made this decision too.

At our conference in March, you asked us to set up a Scottish National Investment Bank.

And in our Programme for Government we committed to doing just that.

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The Investment Bank is about doing things differently for the new age.

In our manifesto last year, we also pledged to explore the option of a new publicly owned energy company.

The idea, at its heart, is simple.

Energy would be bought wholesale or generated here in Scotland – renewable, of course – and sold to customers as close to cost price as possible.

No shareholders to worry about.

No corporate bonuses to consider.

It would give people – particularly those on low incomes – more choice and the option of a supplier whose only job is to secure the lowest price for consumers.

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We will set out more detail when we publish our new Energy Strategy.

But I am delighted to announce today that – by the end of this Parliament – we will set up a publicly owned, not for profit energy company.

What they said afterwards …

Want to learn more? Read: Nicola Sturgeon’s speech to the SNP Conference

Image credits: cc Geralt

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