The new draft Climate Change Plan, unveiled today (20 January) also sets out that by 2032 the country will have a fully decarbonised electricity sector, 80% of heat provided by low-carbon technologies, and a fleet of ultra-low emission carbon cars and vans that represents 40% of all vehicles on the road.

Scottish Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said the new strategy demonstrates a “new level of ambition” in the Scotland’s shift towards a low-carbon economy.

“Our proposals for further deep cuts in emissions represent a new level of ambition which will help maintain Scotland’s reputation as a climate leader within the international community,” Cunningham said. “But it will be the judgement of our children, grandchildren and, indeed, future generations which matters most.

“In the years ahead, I want our young people to be able to look back and take pride in what we have achieved. The transition to a low carbon economy offers important opportunities for Scotland – thanks to our highly skilled workforce, the strength of our research institutions and, of course, our natural resources.”

‘Real foresight’

The “new and more testing” targets have been implemented after Scotland achieved its 2020 objective of a 42% reduction in GHG emissions in 2014.

Successful implementation “depends crucially” on low-carbon innovation from businesses across Scotland, the plan states. The Scottish Government vows to widen its collaboration with companies to “develop a shared understanding of how best to reduce carbon emissions in line with this plan and continue to boost productivity and economic success”.

Specifically, the plan aims to make significant reductions in emissions from under-developed areas such as transport. This follows criticisms that efforts to improve transport efficiency have “not been sufficient”. Indeed, Scotland’s share of the UK EV market is currently lower than its share of total car sales of 8%.

Another key policy target demands for industrial emissions to fall by 19% between 2014 and 2032, through a combination of fuel diversification, cost-saving energy efficiency, heat recovery and participation in European Union (EU) carbon markets. In terms of resource efficiency, Scotland aims to maintain a circular economy approach which will lead to a 50% waste reduction by 2030, in tandem with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Scotland’s new commitment could see the country become a world-leader in reducing emissions, according to the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC).

“The Scottish Government has shown real foresight in setting out ambitious emissions reduction targets, but just as importantly they have provided a clear and practical plan for achieving them,” UK-GBC’s campaign and policy director John Alker said. “Crucially, Scotland’s draft plan provides targets and milestones for individual sectors, which allows businesses to understand where action is most needed.

“It is vital that the UK Government follows this example in the upcoming Emissions Reduction Plan. At a time when Brexit casts a long shadow of uncertainty, this is an opportunity to provide clarity to businesses and guide long term investment decisions. Without a comprehensive plan there is a genuine danger that the UK will fall short of its carbon targets, and that Scotland will leave the rest of the UK behind when it comes to the green economy.”

Low-carbon Highlands

Scotland is widely regarded as the exemplar home nation in regards to emission reductions, with a major shift to the energy mix now integrated. Earlier this month, analysis by environmental campaign group WWF Scotland concluded that Scotland saw out a “landmark” year for renewable energy generation in 2016, thanks in part to large strides in wind and tidal energy generation.

Notable highlights of the year included wind turbines generating more electricity than was used for a whole country on a single day; the installation of the world’s first operational tidal power turbine array, and the trialling of the world’s largest power turbine.

Now, green groups are calling for the country to go further and “blaze the trail”  for global pollution-free power by implementing a national 50% renewable energy target.

George Ogleby

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