Scotland to blame for UK’s rising emissions

Scotland's poor record in tackling its greenhouse gas emissions has been cited as a major factor for the UK looking set to breach its Kyoto target.

Government figures for the first six months of this year show that carbon dioxide emissions for the UK have continued to rise by 2.5%. Analysis by Friends of the Earth has also shown that emissions have risen by 5.5% since 1997 when Labour came to power.

This is despite the government previously claiming, in its 2005 manifesto, that its Kyoto obligations were already met.

The UK as a whole has a target of reducing emissions by 12.5% below 1990 levels by 2008-12. Between 1990 and 2002, Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by just 5.6%, with carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas falling by only 3.2%. This compares to a UK average of 14.9% in greenhouse gases, and an 8.7% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions for the same period.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Chief Executive Duncan McLaren said: “Britain’s credibility as a leader on climate change is now in serious danger and urgent steps must be taken. The Scottish Executive’s part in this failure can no longer go unchallenged. Scotland’s poor record in tackling climate pollution is hindering the UK’s progress toward meeting the target. Scotland needs an explicit national target for year-on-year cuts in carbon dioxide emissions in order to meet domestic and international obligations.”

He suggested that the Executive put its house in order by speeding up plans to implement energy efficiency laws and by axing road building projects such as the M74 motorway and the Aberdeen bypass.

Figures released in May this year showed that emissions had risen again (see related story) primarily due to an increased use of coal in electricity generation and the increased energy consumption of the industry, transport and domestic sectors (see related story).

Norman Baker MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment Secretary said: “It seems the government’s attempts to tackle climate change are going backwards. They have abandoned a 20% target for a cut in emissions by 2010 and now it looks like they are even going to miss the less ambitious Kyoto target. The government’s hand-wringing about climate change on the international stage is no substitute for real action that will cut carbon emissions at home.”

David Hopkins.

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