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Community Land Scotland

Position paper on ‘Green Finance’

21 June 2023

Today we publish our position paper on ‘green finance’ and natural capital which highlights concerns around the implications for long-term land ownership and use and for future community ownership, alongside the long-term viability of carbon offsetting.

We recognise and strongly support the pressing need for action to address both the climate emergency and linked biodiversity crises. However, the ‘green finance’ issue has emerged quickly and is raising many questions which are far-reaching in how Scotland adjusts to a rapidly changing world with major climate challenges. We are concerned that in an unregulated market environment short-term action and any rush for private investment hold the danger of simply commodifying natural heritage and natural capital in a way that principally serves the private financial interests of wealthy investors. Further, it has the potential to condition land ownership and use for periods of time of 100 years or more, without the benefit of informed public debate and the exploration of all the options for progress.

Our Chair, Ailsa Raeburn says “The issues raised by a ‘green finance’ approach to the nature crises are long-term and will span the administrations of many future governments. Given the impact they are having and will have on future generations. We would welcome a big and open conversation between communities, government and its agencies, opposition parties and others who have a part to play to explore the most inclusive ways forward.”

We want to consider whether and how the public, third and private sectors can work together to address some of the inherent challenges in the ‘green finance’ approach. We feel there is an opportunity to ensure:

Models of ownership and benefit sharing can emerge which help advance community ownership of land and address a range of policy objectives for Scottish Government and agencies including addressing the biodiversity and climate crises; community wealth building; a Just Transition to Net Zero and a more diversified pattern of land ownership.

The many significant levers that the Scottish Government already has within its powers, can be used to give support to these policy objectives. However, the time to do this is short, and significant focus needs to be given now to designing interventions that achieve policy convergence.

We will continue to keep the issues under review and will refine its position considering evolving circumstances, engagement, and debate. We look forward to working with others to take the conversation forward in a way that can address concerns and build consensus.

Our Policy Manager, Dr Josh Doble says “We will continue to advocate for community-led action on the climate emergency and biodiversity loss, as evidenced by rural and urban community landowners in Scotland, in ways which support the sustainable development of individual communities and of Scotland as a whole”.


Dr Josh Doble, Policy Manager, Community Land Scotland