The latest Scottish Government figures, released on Tuesday (June 12), show that the country surpassed its 2016 Climate Change Act goal of emitting less than 44.9 MtCO2e in 2016, instead emitting 38.6 MtCO2e.

This puts Scotland on track to meet its 2020 target of a 42% carbon reduction as it continues to outperform the UK as a whole; the data reveals that England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland collectively achieved a 37.6% drop in emissions over the same timeframe.

Indeed, the only EU member state in western Europe to perform better than Scotland was Sweden, which achieved a 51% reduction in GHG emissions over the 26-year period.

“These statistics are hugely encouraging and show we have almost halved the greenhouse gases emitted in Scotland – underlining our role as an international leader in the fight against climate change,” Scotland’s climate change secretary, Roseanna Cunningham said.

“We all have a role to play in that fight and I want to thank the households, communities and businesses who are working hard every day to reduce their own emissions, but we must go further and faster if we are to meet our responsibilities to our children, grandchildren, and future generations.”

Cunningham cited the nation’s draft climate change strategy, which has a headline target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 90% by 2050 and achieving a 100% reduction “as soon as possible”, as a way to speed up Scotland’s transition to net-zero emissions.

The strategy outlines plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds by 2030 as a milestone on the way to the ambitious 2050 goal, which has been hailed by the UK Committee on Climate Change as “at the limit of feasibility”.

The newly-announced figures were met with excitement from green groups, including Scottish Renewables chief executive Claire Mack, who said the achievement proved that “setting ambitious targets is the best way to achieve results”. 

“The energy supply sector has seen the largest reduction in CO2 emissions, with a 68.5% reduction since 1990,” she added. “This demonstrates that phasing out fossil fuels in favour of clean, green alternatives is having the desired effect.” 

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland chair Tom Ballantine echoed Mack’s sentiments, adding that the results prove “setting stretching targets works by driving innovation and strong policy delivery”. 

Steps towards net-zero

Scotland’s new climate change strategy aims are an increase on the current emissions target of 80% by 2050, with the country having already taken several significant steps towards decarbonisation.

The nation has additionally committed to delivering 50% of all energy from renewables across heat, transport and electricity, and has signed a joint agreement to tackle climate change with the US State of California.

The first quarter of 2018 saw Scotland smash its onshore wind record, with Scottish wind farms producing 5,353,997MWh of renewable energy – enough to power the equivalent of around five million homes. The unprecedented generation was announced off the back of data revealing that more than two-thirds (68%) of Scotland’s overall electricity demand came from renewables in 2017.

Other success stories from last year include the world’s first floating wind farm delivering electricity to the Scottish grid and the country’s largest solar farm receiving the green light, alongside the announcement of plans to phase out new polluting petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032.

More recently, the Scottish Government has granted planning permission for the country’s largest solar PV project, which is expected to save 17,900 tonnes of CO2 per annum over grid mix.

Sarah George

Comments (5)

  1. Maria Wetterstrand says:

    Hi! In the article you say that Sweden achieved emissions reductions of 51% since 1990. Where does that figure come from? The official Swedish figures, from the National Environmental Protection Agency, shows a reduction of about 26 % since 1990.
    Best regards, Maria

  2. Richard Phillips says:

    Oh dear, another example of quoting the bulk output of renewable generation, GWhrs, disregarding completely the times at which output was tiny and demand substantial.
    From the end of May to the present 13 June, wind generation has been negligible, the whole 18 GW was reduced to as low as 0.02 GW at one time, and barely rose above 1 GW.
    It is noteworthy that neither Roseanna Cunningham or Claire Mack have professional qualifications in the physical sciences or electrical engineering, vital to the understanding of energy matters, but in politics and economics.
    And remember CO2 is the staff of life, the basis of ALL our food.

    Richard Phillips

  3. Luke Mitchell says:

    I am not sure what your issue is with this news.
    The article reports that 68% of electricity came from renewables, this indicates that 32% of electricity was not from renewables, why does the non-renewables part need to be drilled into in a daily newsletter article that highlights achievements in renewable generation? Would you also like them to report on which fossil fuel or nuclear power stations are currently down for maintenance?
    Even if there are times that renewables have to be substituted with other generation forms, it is better that the mix is heavily biased towards renewables.
    Out of curiosity where does your claim of scotland having 18GW of wind capacity come from? I had a quick look on the internet and could only find reference to about 10GW of capacity in 2017. Or are you referring to the UK total? Which i believe stands at over 19GW.
    Also, many elected officials do not have specialist qualification in their respective appointments. Whilst I certainly agree that this is highly desirable, it is difficult to see how this would practically be achieved. So why point out their lack of academic qualification in technical/science fields when their job is really about politics. Surely it is better to consider results as indicator of success, rather than what they studied at University/apprenticed in.

    AND ANOTHER THING! 🙂 why do we need to remember that CO2 is the basis of all life including our food? Are you concerned that if we reduce co2 emissions too much we will run out of food?

  4. Richard Phillips says:

    LUKE MITCHELL 13/06/2018
    The whole point is that electricity is a source of power that is available only at the instant of its generation. If it is not "stored", and storage is both difficult, expensive and extremely limited, it is no longer of use, because it is no longer there.
    Fossil and nuclear generation provide power on demand, whenever and wherever it is required, renewable power is a "grab it when you can get it" provider. These properties mean that when renewables, as wind power has done for almost a fortnight, are not generating, fossil and nuclear step into the breach. Maintenance on fossil and nuclear stations is a planned operation, not a will’o’the wisp happening. The more the mix is biased towards renewables, the more variable (and expensive) it becomes, and the more back-up is required against the almost total failure of wind power.
    I was using a total figure of wind power installed, it was not intended to refer to Scotland alone. I accept your figure of 19GW, but it was still down to 0.02GW, metered at one time. (an additional about 0.01GW would have been connected as negative demand, not metered).
    You are quite correct in believing that many of our elected officials (Ministers), are not qualified in their respective appointed areas. OK in 1888, a not particularly technical era compared with our own, but a disaster in 2018. I would not care to be responsible for expertise outside my own area. I would be much happier if I knew that the Sec of State for Energy understood the physics and engineering behind the industry, none have as yet. I worked in this area as scientist at the erstwhile Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell, I am now retired.
    You may know already that satellite data shows that in the last 30-35 years the Earth had become some 13% greener. If CO2 were to reduced, crops would yield less, but we have an ever increasing population.
    You might like to look at "equilibrium climate sensitivity", its value dominates all.
    Thanks for the comments, Luke.

    Richard Phillips

  5. Luke Mitchell says:

    I am still not sure what your issue with the article is, we know that renewables such as wind and solar are intermittent, but we also know that over reliance on fossil fuels is causing climate change that will be disastrous, most likely for all life on Earth. A sustainability publication documenting that renewables met over half of a countries demand should not be a cause for lament.
    The cost of energy should not be the primary reason for selecting an energy source, if the cheapest energy causes problems on a global scale then it is not really the best option.

    There have been significant advances in energy storage over the past few years with enormous jumps in commercial availability of battery storage exceeding expectations. I am an Energy Manager and about 5 years ago I had written off battery storage as something to consider in 10-15 years time. I am now looking to install about 1MW of battery storage on my site – unsubsidised. These developments will dramatically increase the viability of renewables and also improve the effective utilisation of other generation such as nuclear which, although not my area of expertise, i understand does not respond well to fluctuations in demand.

    I encourage you to research your point about CO2 increases being good for food production. While there is a clear benefit to fertilizing plants with co2 to increase productivity, there are limiting factors to how much benefit is gained. There is only so much co2 a plant can take before it can take no more. Increasing atmospheric co2 on a global scale is not a positive way to encourage plant growth, fertilization can be dealt with on a local level as required. The most important factor to consider in this is that the increases in temperature that climate change is causing will nullify the net benefit of extra fertilization, as extreme temperatures/drought/flooding will kill food crops on an enormous scale. A lot of research has been completed on this topic and the balanced view is that humans causing climate change by using fossil fuels is not good for anyone

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