Scotland eyes 90% emissions reduction target

The Scottish Government has proposed to increase its greenhouse gas emissions reduction target to 90% below 1990 levels by 2050, the climate change secretary Roseanna Cunningham has announced.

The current Climate Change Bill has an 80% reduction target for 2050, but Scotland will now hold a public consultation as to whether the target should be raised, to signify that the country is “resolutely committed” to combatting climate change.

“Scotland has long punched above its weight on this issue,” Cunningham said. “Moving towards new targets in our proposed Climate Change Bill will strengthen our position at the forefront of the global transition to a low carbon economy.

“As a country which has an international reputation as a climate change leader there is now a huge opportunity to reap the economic and social benefits of our efforts and for us to become a more sustainable economy. We are determined to seize this opportunity, and fulfil our moral obligations to future generations.”

Measures to reach the new target include reopening a specialised climate change fund for applications in the next two years and establishing an advisory panel to help finalise the plan before publication in early 2018.

Data dispute

Despite calls for a new target, emissions in Scotland have actually risen in 2015, the latest data set, although emissions targets for that year have still been met. Government figures revealed that emissions in 2015 were 41% below the 1990 baseline.

Data for 2014 suggested that Scotland had reached a 42% reduction target six years early. A 45.8% fall in emissions had been recorded. The newly-recorded 41% suggests that previous data was caused by mild winters.

Commenting on the new 90% target, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland’s chair Tom Ballantine said: “A new Climate Change Bill is an opportunity for Scotland to put itself at the forefront of global action on climate change and reap the economic and social benefits of the clean energy revolution.

“Last week the First Minister committed to implementing the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement through the new Bill. This means setting a date for reaching net-zero emissions no later than 2050, and increasing action to reduce emissions in the short-term through tougher targets and increased policy action in the areas where emissions aren’t coming down, like transport, buildings and agriculture. Committing to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 would fulfil both our international obligations and create a fairer, more sustainable and successful Scotland.”

Earlier this year, Scotland signed a joint agreement to tackle climate change with the US State of California. In fact, the deal arrived one week after Scottish wind turbines set a new March record for the total amount of power sent to the National Grid since records began.

Wind power provided 1,240,095MWh of electricity to the Grid, enough to supply, on average, the electrical needs of 136% of Scottish households. This represents an increase of 81% compared to that of March 2016.

Matt Mace

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