The Scottish National Party’s climate and nature policies: the verdict

Does the SNP have good green policies? We’ve analysed their 2024 manifesto to find out if they deserve your vote.


In the run-up to the election, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have scored the main UK-wide parties’ manifestos and green commitments, to help climate-concerned citizens decide how to vote.

It wouldn’t be fair to score the SNP against our UK-wide criteria, given the significant areas of devolved powers and asks which are irrelevant to parties who seek independence.

However, their manifesto is still full of important policy commitments to try to win your vote. So we’ve taken a look and analysed their offer for you!

The SNP’s green strengths and weaknesses

Before we dive into the content of the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) manifesto, it’s worth saying that the detail is very light in a lot of areas. While many areas are devolved, we would still expect to see more content from the SNP than was officially published. This would give a signal of intent and show the public that the SNP understands the importance of the climate and nature emergencies, and the need to work collaboratively on tackling them. Having said that, the party has provided us with supplementary information about their position on certain topics, which they have confirmed we can make public – so our assessment below is based on both sources.

‘Frankenstein policies’ on oil and gas

First things first: oil and gas. Long gone are the days when Nicola Sturgeon firmly presented the SNP as the party which would go against new fossil fuels and boldly deliver a just transition; entering Scotland into the renewable energy marketplace and delivering lower bills for the country.

We’ve seen those commitments being chipped away at over the past year, until the SNP’s position on fossil fuels has finally reached the Frankenstein-form in which we find it in their manifesto today:

“The UK Government is the decision-maker on new oil and gas licences. We believe any further extraction must be consistent with our climate obligations and take due account of energy security considerations. Decisions must be made on a rigorously evidence-led, case-by-case basis, through a robust climate compatibility assessment.”

This position is almost a copy and paste job from the Conservative party. Worth noting right now that no climate compatibility assessment worth the paper it’s written on would approve new oil and gas fields.

A fair transition for fossil fuel workers

So, no more commitment to phasing out fossil fuels. The SNP have however committed to a just transition, meaning that they will invest in creating green jobs for workers to move into, and have already promised a £500m fund for the North East of Scotland to transition to green energy. They have also provided assurance of their support for trade unions, which will be critical to delivering a just transition effectively. Although much of this money has yet to be allocated and the Scottish Government has continuously delayed publishing the just transition plans.


On transport there are good commitments to expanding public ownership of rail and making it more affordable. While the Scottish government doesn’t have the powers to ban the sale of polluting new petrol and diesel vehicles, they have strong commitments to phasing out the need to buy them by 2030 – and this is backed up with funding for expanding the electric vehicle charging network.

Energy bills

On energy bills, they’ve committed to substantial measures to alleviate fuel poverty and ensure everyone can pay their bills – including a social tariff for energy bills and more. But there’s nothing in there about upgrading the energy efficiency of homes to lower people’s energy use in the first place – which would bring down bills and emissions for good. We know this is a policy area which is devolved to the Scottish government, but hoped to see more of a vision for energy efficiency in the manifesto.

In government, the SNP have consulted on upgrading homes, and even set up a cross-industry working group for yet more consultation – setting out their positive intentions. However, as yet, they have produced no clear plans for delivery.


The SNP manifesto has some great commitments on enhancing democracy: they would lower the voting age to 16 and introduce a proportional voting system. They are also strong on protecting fundamental rights, strongly opposing any attempt by the UK government to exit the European Court of Human Rights or change the Human Rights Act.

Asylum and immigration

On asylum and immigration, the SNP have a strong record. In Westminster, SNP MPs have robustly stood against inhumane rhetoric and policies affecting refugees and asylum seekers. Their manifesto commits them to pushing the UK government to scrap the Rwanda scheme and ensuring asylum seekers have the right to work and are granted safe, suitable and dignified housing.

Protecting nature and biodiversity

While protecting nature and biodiversity is a devolved issue, the topic is barely mentioned in the manifesto, which sends very poor signals about how much of a priority the SNP considers this area. While we can assume the SNP remains committed to the vital target of protecting at least 30% of land and sea for nature by 2030 (as pledged by the Scottish government), this or related targets have not yet been put in law, as is the case for England.

Tackling throwaway culture

In government, the SNP have just passed a Circular Economy Bill. The bill is a really positive first step towards tackling our throw-away culture and shift to one of reuse. For many years,  the SNP have been committed to a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) to help boost recycling for all drinks containers. When it finally tried to launch the scheme in 2023, their plans to include glass containers in the scheme were consistently blocked by the Westminster government, leading to big delays to the whole policy.

No plan to protect Scotland’s oceans

When it comes to protecting domestic seas from destructive fishing, the SNP have stayed silent. Given their tendency to capitulate to the industrial fleet in previous marine protection policies, we would need significant assurances to judge their plans to be sufficient or ambitious in this area.

Lacking decisive leadership

Overall, this SNP manifesto is lacking the decisive leadership on climate – and nature protection in particular – that we have known in the past from the SNP. Although we have had assurances from the party that they would support further important policies such as speedy ratification of the Global Ocean Treaty into UK law, and the Global Plastics Treaty, their engagement on these issues has been very light and they have not provided us with any detail.

We need real plans, not warm words

What’s more, back in April of this year the Scottish government said that they would repeal parts of its Climate Change Act, following the assessment of the Climate Change Committee that the government would no longer meet its statutory 2030 goal to reduce emissions by 75%. This was due to insufficient action from the Scottish government over many years – including in devolved areas for which it has sole responsibility. In that respect, as in this manifesto, the commitments made in many areas sound good, but we need to see real plans, and much more detail, to achieve real progress. Only then can we have proper confidence that the SNP means action, not just warm words.

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