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Scotland’s energy future inquiry informed by University of Stirling expertise

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A major inquiry into Scotland’s future energy requirements has benefited from input from a University of Stirling academic.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh inquiry – which analysed future energy supply issues – involved a number of advisors, including Stirling Professor of Environmental and Public Law, Gavin McLeod Little.

The report, Scotland’s Energy Future, warned there would no easy options and all decisions would require compromise and trade-offs, each with significant consequences. However, it found the challenges presented an opportunity for Scotland to explore and develop world-leading, innovative solutions.

Professor McLeod Little said: “The challenges we in Scotland face around energy could be a major opportunity, and position Scotland as a global innovator. But some very difficult decisions need to be made by the Scottish and UK Governments.

“I hope that the inquiry’s report and our recommendations – such as the need to set up a statutory commission for Scotland to advise on all aspects of energy policy and governance – will assist them as they go forward."

The report set out the significant challenges faced by Scotland, and the rest of the world, as it looks to continue to produce the energy it requires, while attempting to meet its carbon reduction targets. It found even under the most ambitious of plans to reduce demand and use energy more efficiently, Scotland will need energy for heat, transport and electricity and a decision must be made on how this will be sourced.

The report recommended the establishment of an independent, expert advisory commission on energy for Scotland which could consider all aspects of energy policy.

Other recommendations included: the need for timely and well-considered decisions by Scottish and UK governments on how and in what to invest; prioritisation of climate protection targets; investment in new low-carbon energy generating capacity; a reduction in the demand for energy; and improved standards for lowering the net energy consumption of housing and infrastructure that are enforced and regularly updated.

Sir Muir Russell, Inquiry Chair, said: “Energy is a highly complex area of policy. The reality is that no energy policy will ever solve all the problems and paradoxes of energy supply and use. However, what is vital is a holistic approach to developing policy, underpinned by a robust, evidence-based understanding of all options and the advantages and disadvantages of every option.

“If policymakers want to achieve particular outcomes, they must first fully understand all the issues and consequences and invest in time and resource to achieve that understanding; and in the meantime, be careful of promising too much or the wrong things.”

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