Scotland Climate Bill: MSPs unanimously back 2045 net-zero target

The new Bill aligns with the CCC's advice for the UK to meet net-zero by mid-century

Scotland’s previous climate target was for a 90% reduction in emissions by 2050, against a 1998 baseline.

However, the Scottish Government announced in May its intentions to bolster that target in line with the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) recommendations for ensuring that the UK plays its part in ensuring that the global average temperature increase is limited to 1.5C.

The more ambitious long-term target was enshrined in Scottish law late on Wednesday evening (25 September), after a unanimous vote at Holyrood.

Ministers also agreed to an amendment, posted by the Labour party, to raise its interim target to 75% net emissions cut by 2030, against a 1990 baseline.

The Scottish Greens had posted a motion to increase this target to 80% within the same timeframe, but this was heavily defeated by 92 votes to seven.

A pledge to hold a “citizens’ assembly” on how to tackle climate change was also added to the Climate Bill.

Responding to the vote, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said the government was “putting in place the most stringent framework of statutory targets of any country in the world”.

But Green MSP Mark Ruskell said the Bill was “nowhere near meaningful action to address the climate emergency”.

“The other parties cannot hide behind targets – targets are meaningless without action to meet them,” he added.

Green groups have reacted to the news from Scotland in broadly the same way that the UK Government’s net-zero target was met – with optimism alongside calls for urgent action.

“We wanted more, but now we really do have a climate bill that can make a difference,” Friends of the Earth Scotland’s director Richard Dixon said.

“Looking ahead, the Scottish Government and Parliament should build on this comprehensive approach to tackling climate change and ensure that policy plans to accelerate emissions cuts in crucial areas such as buildings, land use and transport are rapidly finalised to put Scotland on a credible pathway towards meetings its target,” The Aldersgate Group’s executive director Nick Molho added.

“This will reduce the cost of investment and support businesses in benefiting from the significant economic opportunities that will come with being an early mover in the development of new ultra-low carbon goods and services.” 

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Sarah George

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