In association with
26 October 2023
Business School, The University of Edinburgh, Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh, UK

Countdown to the General Election: Scotland’s next steps to net-zero

In association with

In this joint event held by the British Institute of Energy Economics and the University of Edinburgh Business School‘s ‘Business, Climate Change and Sustainability’ Centre the following panel shall discuss the topic in hand:

  • Charles Hendry, President of BIEE and former UK Government Energy Minister (chair)
  • Vicky Kelsall, CEO, Scottish Power Energy Networks
  • Chris Stark, Chief Executive, Climate Change Committee
  • Janette Webb, Chair in Sociology of Organisations, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh
  • Chris Birt, Associate Director for Scotland, Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Attendance is free, register below to confirm your participation.
Doors open at 6pm for arrival and coffee. The event starts at 6.30pm and is followed by a networking drinks reception at 8pm.



The next general election is widely expected to take place during 2024. Political parties are already spending significant time developing their manifestos, where energy and climate change are likely to feature heavily. In recent weeks and months, we have witnessed signs that parties from both ends of the spectrum may be looking to roll-back their decarbonisation commitments in order to secure votes. This comes at a time when the Climate Change Committee have signalled that a major policy gap exists in order to meet net-zero. What is therefore desperately needed is a government strategy that can deliver net-zero swiftly, fairly and cost-effectively.

Scotland lies at the heart of this debate. Both Scottish and UK governments have been warned by the CCC that there is no clear delivery plan to meet its 2030 and 2040 interim carbon targets. With Scotland expecting to be a battleground for votes at the next election, as well as presenting a wealth of net-zero opportunities (e.g. renewables) and challenges (e.g. oil and gas, inefficient housing stock, high levels of inequality), we are already seeing it rise to the fore of policy debate. For example, Labour recently launched its Mission Climate strategy in Scotland, where it proposed GB Energy will be headquartered. Scotland also poses the added complication that total decarbonisation will demand effective and sustained collaboration between Westminster and Holyrood. The question is therefore, what are the major political parties proposing for Scotland’s path to net-zero, and how can these get us to net-zero swiftly and fairly?

This event considers:

· Are the main parties decarbonisation goals realistic and achievable?

· Can decarbonisation goals be made more compelling to voters who are concerned that they will have a negative impact on costs of energy and energy security; and what steps are needed to achieve this?

· Where do significant policy gaps lie and what are the priorities for action?

· Recommendations for parties’ manifestos to accelerate a just transition to net-zero.

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