Released by the Scottish Government, the results show that the country missed its target for 2011 by 0.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), having missed its target in 2010 by 1.1 million tonnes CO2e.

Despite this, Scotland’s Minister for Environment and Climate Change Paul Wheelhouse insisted that the results showed good progress was being made, with Scotland now more than half way towards its 2020 target.

Wheelhouse claimed that revisions to the historical data used to set the targets in 2009 have made each annual target more challenging.

“Despite changes to the historical data on emissions, making this year’s target harder to achieve, we have come within touching distance of it, and the revised targets mean we will all need to focus our efforts in the future to stay on course,” he said.

“Whilst I am disappointed we have not achieved our climate change reduction goal for 2011 in carbon terms, we have met it in percentage terms – with a 25.7% reduction between 1990 and 2011. If the baseline had not changed the target would also have been met in carbon terms,” added Wheelhouse.

The Scottish Government also pointed out that Scotland has retained its position at the top of the EU15 countries for emissions reductions for the period between 1990 and 2011.

In addition, in 2011 unadjusted emissions fell by 9.9%, which is the largest year-on-year drop since records began.

However, the results have deeply concerned green campaigners, who dispute the Government’s claims that Scotland is on course to meet its 2020 target.

Green MSP for Glasgow and co-convener of the Scottish Greens Patrick Harvie said that the results should “be ringing alarm bells at the Scottish Government” and that ministers were demonstrating “breath-taking complacency”.

“To claim we’re on course to meet the target in 2020 is utter spin; the need to compensate for their failure will clearly make things harder,” he said.

“Last year the government buried the figures during the summer recess to avoid scrutiny. Their lucklustre report on proposals and policies to address emissions must be updated and brought before parliament before summer recess at the end of this month,” added Harvie.

Conor McGlone

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