We need a timescale for green transition - Readers' Letters

Most people would agree that we cannot stop using fossil fuels overnight. Like many countries across the world, the UK is striving to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and to increase energy creation from renewables. Progress is being made: for example, the UK no longer burns millions of tonnes of coal each year in its power stations. But the transition to renewables takes time.

Monday, 29th November 2021, 7:00 am

What we need now is a practical calculation of how long that period of transition is likely to be. Impatient environmentalists say "The period of transition should be as short as possible!" But that does not help us much. We need some idea of the number of years required.

Numbers plucked from the air are no use either. We need to see a calculation of the length of the transition period, based on, to take only one example, the rate at which oil and gas heating is being converted to electric heating. At present about 97 per cent of our heating burns oil and gas. Conversion will require millions of electric boilers and thousands of electricians. That would suggest a transition period of a good many years.

This calculation is important because major decisions hinge on it. Thus a transition period of 30 years could be taken to justify opening the Cambo oilfield. The reasoning would be: we shall need supplies of oil and gas for the next 30 years, therefore it is better to use local supplies from Cambo, rather than rely on imports from countries like Algeria.

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Arguments about the great issue of climate change are nothing more than empty rhetoric if people ignore the practicalities of how we transition to renewables and how long the transition is likely to take.

Les Reid, Edinburgh

Scotland’s priorities

What Ian Murray misses when he criticises the Scottish health service is that the Barnett formula, which funds Scotland, mirrors Westminster priorities (News, 26 November). And those priorities have included deliberate, chronic underinvestment in and the gradual privatisation of the NHS.

Westminster’s latest salvo undermining the principle of free health care at the point of delivery was the vote approving the Health and Social Care Bill that puts private corporations on the 42 English integrated care boards. And Brexit, supported by Labour, has exacerbated the health care staffing crisis.

Without the tax and borrowing powers that come with independence, if it wants to increase health spending, the Scottish Government has to take money from other areas. If we had our own currency and central bank, we would be able to invest in health care, education, a green economy, good jobs and decent pensions. Ian may not like it, but the truth is that Scotland is constrained by Westminster.

What the SNP leadership should be doing is highlighting this on a daily basis, explaining where and how the Union is holding us back and what our potential could be if we governed ourselves. And they should be working on a plan for restoring our sovereignty. Facing a historically weak Tory and Labour opposition, the conditions for planning our exit from the UK have never been better. The SNP needs to locate its spine and get on with the job of freeing us from Westminster rule.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

Health is devolved

Ian Murray was elected as an MP to hold the UK government to account but seems to spend most of his time attacking the SNP – and he doesn’t show much confidence in the abilities of his local Labour MSP to whom he should have passed his constituent’s complaint regarding a devolved matter.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

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