Scotland exceeds ‘world-leading’ emissions target six years early

Scotland has exceeded its 2020 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42% six years early and confirmed plans to establish a "new and more testing" objective, new Government figures have revealed.

The Scottish Government’s latest climate change statistics show that emissions have fallen by 45.8% between 1990 and 2014 and by 12.5% from the previous year to 41.9MtCO2e. The reduction was hailed as “great news” by Scotland’s Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham who highlighted the country’s sustained commitment to meeting international targets set at the Paris Agreement last December.

“Scotland is making outstanding progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Cunningham said. “These statistics show that we not only met the annual 2014 emissions reduction target but also exceeded the level of our world-leading 2020 target for a 42% reduction, six years ahead of schedule.

“The reduction in residential emissions in 2014 may have been due to people turning down their heating. This underlines that small individual actions, if repeated on a large scale, can have a big impact in tackling climate change.”

‘Rise to the challenge’

Figures published on the Scottish Government’s website also revealed that Scotland met its annual climate change targets for the first time since 2010.

The Government said that Scotland continues to outperform the rest of the UK as a whole, with a 39.5% drop in Scottish source emissions between 1990 and 2014 compared to the UK’s 33% reduction over the same period. Cunningham insisted that the Government would strive to achieve a 2050 emissions target contained in the Climate Change Scotland Act 2009 for at least an 80% reduction from baseline levels.

She continued: “We will continue to rise to the challenge and the First Minister has already confirmed that the Scottish Government plans to establish a new and more testing 2020 target. We are not complacent and we will continue to take action and encourage others to do their bit to tackle climate change.”

‘Bold fingerprint’

Green campaigners welcomed the climate results but remained unconvinced over the extent of the Government’s role in emissions reductions, citing the housing and transport sector as areas where the administration had “failed to introduce any serious policies” to reduce emissions. Stop Climate Chaos Scotland stated that the target was met because of the loss to heavy industry, warmer winter weather and a changing share of European emissions credits.

“It’s great news that Scotland has hit our internationally symbolic 42% emissions reduction target six years early,” Stop Climate Chaos Scotland spokesperson Jim Densham said. “This shows it’s possible to cut emissions while building a progressive and productive society.

“However apart from the electricity and waste sectors, it’s hard to see a bold fingerprint of Scottish Government policy driving the transition to a zero carbon economy.”

Low-carbon leader

In recent times, Scotland has been hailed as Britain’s low-carbon leader for maintaining its high-ambition pathway towards emissions reductions.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has said that 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 Scottish Government recently announced it will be investing £48m for innovative scientific research in the agriculture and environmental sectors in an effort to strengthen global challenges such as food security and climate change.

The country has also pledged to invest £70m in a new centre of excellence and an innovative new manufacturing strategy for a circular economy model.

George Ogleby

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