Scotland continues to beat rest of UK in reducing emissions
Scotland is outperforming the rest of the UK on reducing greenhouse gas emissions but needs fresh measures to meet its own recently introduced targets, according to parliament's climate change watchdog.
The Committee on Climate Change’s annual progress report on carbon reduction north of the border is published 24 September.
It says Scottish net emissions were 41.5 MtCO2e in 2016, the last year for which data is available, below the climate target figure of 44.9 MtCO2e. Total emissions fell by 10% in 2016 alone.
This means that net emissions, which account for the trading of allowances in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, were 45% below 1990 levels. Scotland is outperforming its interim target of a 42% reduction by 2020, the report shows.
Actual emissions in 2016 were 49% below 1990 levels, meaning that Scotland is on track to meet the separate target in the Scottish parliament’s own Climate Change Bill for a reduction of at least 56% by 2020.
The biggest factor in the decline in emissions is the power generation sector. Electricity generation provided the lion’s share of this latest drop in emissions with 17.8% of Scotland’s total energy in 2016 coming from renewable sources; a higher proportion than in the UK and EU overall.
However, following the closure of Longannet, the final coal plant located north of the border, Scotland’s strategy must now move on decisively, says the CCC.
And given the lack of “significant” emission reductions outside electricity generation and waste over the five years to 2016, other sectors need to pick up the slack in order to meet Scotland’s ambitious climate targets.
The Scottish bill has set a target of cutting emissions north of the border to 90% of 1990 levels, compared to the figure of 80% enshrined in the UK-wide Climate Change Act.
The CCC judges that the 90% reduction target is “at the limits of feasibility identified to date” and that more measures may be required to achieve this goal.
Low-carbon heat and transport are two of the areas where policies must improve it says, including a clear plan for rolling out electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Lord Deben, chairman of the CCC, said: “Scotland continues to lead the UK in reducing its emissions and has ambitious targets which aim to go further.
“Decarbonisation of Scotland’s electricity sector, and reductions in emissions from waste, have seen Scotland outperform the UK overall as emissions continue to fall year-on-year to nearly half of 1990 levels.
“The Scottish government has made some progress on tackling issues raised in the committee’s report in 2017. However, challenges remain. Achieving a 90% in emissions by 2050, as envisaged within the new Climate Change Bill, means greater effort is now required across other areas of Scotland’s economy.
“This includes policies to drive down emissions in sectors where they are either flat or rising, such as transport, agriculture and energy efficiency in buildings.
“Without real action in these areas, Scotland may fall short of its long-term goals.”
This article first appeared on edie sister title's website, Utility Week