Scotland ranks second in Western European greenhouse gas reductions

Over the last 25 years, only Sweden has achieved bigger greenhouse gas emissions reduction levels than Scotland across Western Europe, the Scottish Government revealed on Sunday (31 July).

The latest available figures released by the Scottish Government revealed that the country has reduced emissions by 39.5% in 2014 against a 1990 baseline. Across Western Europe, only Sweden can better the reductions, having slashed emissions by 54.5% in the same timeframe.

In regards to the rest of the UK, England reduced emissions by 34.2%, while Wales and Northern Ireland also reduced carbon emissions by 17.9% and 16.5% respectively. Scotland also led the UK in terms of yearly reductions, having reduced emissions by 8.6% in 2014 compared to the year prior. England reduced yearly emissions by 7.4% while Wales and Northern Ireland achieved reductions of 8.2% and 3.1%.

Commenting on the figures, WWF Scotland’s director Lang Banks said: “It’s great to see more evidence that Scotland is in the vanguard when it comes to tackling climate change in Europe. Thanks to strong Government leadership over the years we’ve embraced renewables helping to de-carbonise our power sector.

“However, looking ahead there is no room for complacency if Scotland is to maintain its position as a leader on climate change and to capture the many social, health and economic benefits of moving to a zero-carbon future. Outside of the electricity and waste sectors progress to cut carbon has been far too slow.

“The Scottish Government’s new climate action plan, due by the end of the year, is an opportunity to set out transformational plans. Sectors in need of urgent attention include transport, where emissions remain stuck at 1990 levels and housing, with too many families wasting cash and carbon heating the outside of their leaky homes.”

Figures released from European countries outside of the European Union also revealed some surprising reduction figures. Both Malta and Cyprus have seen emissions increase since 1990, with Malta’s carbon footprint growing by 150% and Cyprus’ growing by 54.8%.

In total, six countries in the EU-28, including Sweden, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania had higher reductions than Scotland. As a whole, Member States reduced emissions from a 1990 baseline by almost 20%.

New and testing Scotland

The latest Scottish figures are used for UK and International comparisons. When adjusted to account for EU-wide emissions trading measures reductions actually increase to more than 45%. This essentially means that Scotland has exceeded its 2020 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42% six years early, and has since confirmed plans to establish a “new and more testing” objective.

Scotland’s reductions were largely driven by a thriving renewables sector. The country currently generates 15% of its energy demand from renewables. New figures suggest this could rise to around 25% by the end of this decade.

However, the Scottish Affairs Committee has claimed that the country’s renewables sector has been threatened by political ‘cloud of uncertainty’, with policy amendments to the Renewables Obligation (RO), Feed in-tariffs (FiT) and Contract for Difference (CfD) auctions all contributing to an uncertain future.

Matt Mace

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