SCOTLAND should revolutionise global trading by replacing VAT with an environmental tax, introduce minimum pricing plans that reflect the true cost of products to the planet, ban single use plastics and develop world-leading environmental standards on exports, according to a Scottish think tank.

Common Weal yesterday launched its blueprint for a new Scottish Green Deal, which put forward detailed proposals to address our environmental crisis.

Common Home Plan aims to present a fully costed and large-scale plan for Scotland’s future. It suggests launching a national housing company, integrated district heating, radically reforming land ownership, upgrading the electricity grid and transitioning toward more sustainable farming and fishing methods.

The report claims that it is time to rethink our addiction to polluting products. “If the goods we buy in the shops are made while pouring toxic effluent into the sea, we have poisoned our sea too,” it argues. “If we buy goods manufactured using energy from coal-fired power stations, we are poisoning our own atmosphere.”

READ MORE: Scottish city has more asylum seekers than any other UK council area

It claims that Scotland could incentivise shorter supply chains by putting in place an environmental tax, related the harm caused when products are produced as well as how far they travel, and how they can be recycled. It adds: “Price controls can also be used, such as the minimum pricing for alcohol already introduced in Scotland, but rather than pricing to reflect the harm to health it would reflect harm to the environment.”

Robin McAlpine, director of Common Weal, said: “Trade is perhaps the most controversial part of the report but it shouldn’t be. Everyone in politics is terrified of taking on the hyper-consumer capitalism. They want to give us the belief that we can live in the future – as we do now, but with wind turbines – but that’s not true. Trade rules don’t currently recognise the harm that is done from the planet. At the moment we are geared up for an economy that says if someone wants to sell you plastic novelty goods it’s almost like some human right that you must be able to buy it and throw it away. It’s not a human right to be able to use asbestos so why do we insist we should be allowed to buy plastic and throw it in the bin?

“At the moment products that are not poison are barely regulated. We are not suggesting we close Scotland off from the world – we are not going to be making our own mobile phones or computer equipment. But we need to be able to influence the things we shouldn’t be importing.

“Perhaps the most effective one – that is closest to a silver bullet – is the environment tax. For example if a box of Christmas crackers were to be priced to reflect the environmental cost of those wee plastic toys, you wouldn’t buy them. You’d chose the ones with tiny wooden toys or little bars of cosmetics in them or something else. The only people that wouldn’t be happier there would be the mass manufacturers of plastic.”

The report rejects the idea that environmental issues can be fixed by individuals, claiming the causes of the environmental threats we face are structural, which means the solutions must be too. Researchers estimate the ambitious plans will take 25 years from start to finish to complete and estimate it will cost £170 billion over that period.

The report was welcomed by the Scottish Greens, who claimed it follows similar research published by Institute for Public Policy Research. Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “It is fantastic to see the energy and ideas behind our Scottish Green New Deal recognised and developed by other progressive voices.

“The momentum is clearly growing for the kind of radical ideas that can realign our economy and grow our public sector to tackle the climate emergency in the time we have. Other political parties must follow this before they get left behind.”