OVER the next few weeks, we will be giving each local candidate in the Scottish Parliament elections a chance to have their say. We willbe questioning them on a range of topics of vital importance to the Scottish public.

This week, the candidates will be giving their views on the topic of climate change and telling us their plans if elected to Holyrood on May 5. Standing for the Cunninghame South seat in this election are Ruth Maguire, SNP; Louise McPhater, Labour; David Rocks, Conservative, Tom Armstrong, Liberal Democrat and Maurice Campbell, independent.

Ruth Maguire (SNP) on climate change:

Irvine Times:

IN Government, the SNP introduced the most ambitious legal framework for emissions reduction in the world, with a target to reduce emissions by 75 per cent by 2030. If re-elected an SNP Government will take further action and investment to meet these targets. We will: 

•Decarbonise the heating of one million homes by 2030, and ensure all new homes delivered by registered social landlords and local authorities will be zero emission homes by 2026.

•Develop the enormous potential of Scotland’s hydrogen sector - including exploring the use of hydrogen trains as an alternative to diesel and electrification. Increase our targets for new woodland creation by 50 per cent, from 12,000 hectares up to 18,000 hectares by 2025.

•Invest £250m to support the restoration of 250,000 hectares of Scottish peatland by 2030. And double our world-leading Climate Justice Fund to £24m over four years. By giving both votes to the SNP on May 6, the people of Scotland can elect a government which is absolutely committed to tackling the climate emergency and ensuring that the recovery from COVID is a sustainable one.

Louise McPhater (Scottish Labour) on climate change:

Irvine Times:

THE next few years are going to be pivotal if we are to avoid irreversible damage to our planet because of climate change.

That’s why climate action is a key pillar of Scottish Labour’s National Recovery Plan at this election, with a vision to create green jobs that provide employment whilst protecting our environment.

That’s the national leadership we need on this issue, but we also need local leadership here in North Ayrshire too.

That’s why I am proud to be a member of a Labour council that is leading the way on climate action with our Green Jobs Fund, a tree planting programme that will plant 108,000 new trees, the massive investment we are making in low carbon council housing, both in our new build programme and upgrading existing stock to be more energy efficient and the council owned solar farm that we will build in Kilwinning, generating a third of the council’s energy and providing a revenue stream of £13million that will be reinvested in North Ayrshire.

I will build on this as our area’s MSP to bring investmentthat will help us hit our targetto be a net-zero region by 2030 –15 years earlier than the SNP’s target.

David Rocks (Scottish Conservative) on climate change:

Irvine Times:

THERE is no doubting that tackling the climate emergency is one of the biggest challenges we face in the coming years. The Scottish Conservatives are fully committed to achieving net zero by 2045 but this will only happen if we support businesses and help them to create green jobs.

All too often the SNP have set ambitious targets on reducing emissions but have failed to meet them. They have failed to engage properly with businesses and our agriculture sector, to allow them to invest in new technologies and move towards cleaner working practices.

Thanks to the UK Government, Glasgow will be hosting the world-leading COP 26 summit later this year, which represents a major opportunity to set policies that will help tackle climate change and protect future generations.

We are also committed to supporting our North Sea oil and gas sector to protect thousands of jobs and transition to cleaner industries, rather than simply destroying these jobs which an SNP-Green supermajority threatens to do.

Only a vote for the Scottish Conservatives can have us focused on a green recovery, rather than another referendum.

Tom Armstrong (Scottish Lib Dems) on climate change:

Irvine Times:

THERE’S now real urgency for strong policies to tackle the climate emergency. Scotland’s ambitious target of a 75 per cent cut in emissions by 2030 was a result of work from the Liberal Democrats.

We will declare a nature emergency and foster biodiversity, using nature to fight climate change, by restoring peatlands and woodlands. It’s vital we plant more trees, with plenty more around where people live. Liberal Democrats will create new national parks in places that the local community supports.

We must establish a system of agricultural support that helps farmers to protect and restore the natural environment, while they work in producing food we need and rural jobs. We’ll ensure that Scotland gets a good share of the green economy initiatives launched by the UK Government last year.

We will support green hydrogen power and green electricity development, so that they replace the use of fossil fuels for heating, roads, ferries and aviation. We would undertake a national programme for warm homes, which will reduce fuel poverty and cut our carbon emissions.

Maurice Campbell (Independent) on climate change:

Irvine Times:

CLIMATE change? Where do we start? So we all recognise by now that some things have to change, cars going electric, reduce the burning of fossil fuels, reducing methane gas emissions, and everyone reducing their carbon footprint.

But the words “climate change” can cover a wide spectrum of subjects, and can not be given in a simple low-resolution view.

There are many dangers facing our planet, plastic in the seas, environmental disasters, rising temperatures, more extreme weather, but what can one person do?

Personally, I would push for solar panels to be fitted to every house where possible, fully supported with a government payment as the private sector is outwith the reach of many. And if the fitting of panels is impossible, the creation of larger solar farms could be the way forward to produce the need of most communities. But again, would the large power companies be willing to give up their customers?

And on the flip side, free community electricity would end fuel poverty overnight, and the constant struggle to choose between heating or food would be removed from so many people in Scotland.”