Climate watchdog hails Scotland as Britain’s low-carbon leader

Scotland's "vibrant renewable sector" and "bold policy approaches" will take the country beyond the UK's ambition on climate change and help deliver a 61% reduction in emissions by 2030 from 1990 levels, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has said today (15 March).

In a new report – Scottish emissions targets 2028-2032 – the CCC says the Scottish Government should maintain its high-ambition pathway towards emissions reductions of at least 80% by 2050, by taking strong action on national decarbonisation. 

CCC chair Lord Deben said: “Scotland is leading the UK in its ambitious approach to tackling climate change and is to be commended for doing so. There is a lot of positive action already underway in Scotland, driven by both its vibrant renewable sector and its bold policy approaches. This must now be accelerated.

“New policies will be required to meet these ambitious but achievable carbon objectives. With these actions Scotland can continue as an example to the rest of the UK in its approach to address climate change.”

Heat and transport

Scotland has made good progress in emissions reduction to date – in 2013, emissions had fallen by 38% on 1990 levels, putting the country on track to exceed the 42% target by 2020 set in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act. The Scotland Act calls on emissions reductions that go beyond those in the UK Act, which has a target of reducing emissions by 34% by 2020, from the same 1990 baseline.

The CCC’s recommended emissions target for Scotland in the 2028-32 timeframe continues along that more ambitious trajectory, putting the country on track for an eventual reduction of at least 80% by 2050. Specifically, the CCC says strong action will be required in a number of key areas, including: –

  • Low-carbon heat in about 30% of homes by 2030, with widespread uptake of heat pumps, low-carbon heat networks, domestic insulation and energy efficiency measures.
  • Low emission vehicles comprising about 65% of new car and van sales by 2030.
  • Afforestation involving 16,000 hectares per year of new forest planting.
  • Electricity decarbonisation to reduce emissions from 220 gCO2/kWh to below Scotland’s legislated target of 50 gCO2/kWh.

Commenting on the new report, Jim Densham from campaign group Stop Climate Chaos Scotland said: “The advice from the UK CCC describes a rapid transition away from fossil fuels towards a clean, renewable energy future. This means by 2030 electric cars need to be the vehicle of choice; renewable heat must be common place across our buildings and all our homes energy efficient. 

“This is a massive opportunity to not only cut emissions but also deliver new jobs in sectors like home insulation and renewable energy across Scotland, improve public health, create investment in new industry and help tackle fuel poverty.

“This is a powerful reminder that all political parties need to step up action on climate change and commit to policies in line with the Climate Change Agreement all Scottish party leaders signed up to last year.”

Holyrood calling

Ahead of the Scottish elections on 5 May, a recent YouGov survey revealed overwhelming public support for the continued development of clean energy over fossil fuels and nuclear. The results showed that 70% want more renewable sources such as wind, solar, wave and tidal to be supplemented with a strong policy environment. 

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks recently told edie of his hope that the upcoming election will see the major parties set out an ambitious green agenda.“In 2015, Scotland missed yet another annual climate change target underlining the need to ensure we do much more address carbon emissions from other sectors including our homes, businesses and transport,” Banks said.

“In the run up to May’s Holyrood election, we’ll be particularly keen to see each of the political parties set out their plans for tackling climate change that will create jobs, improve health and reduce inequality.”

George Ogleby

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