The latest national climate emissions figures show that Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions rose by 400,000 tonnes between 2011 and 2012, when the initial 2012 target was actually for a 178,000-tonne drop. The target for 2013 will now require a drop from 55.7 million tonnes to 47.9 million tonnes.

The Scottish Government has therefore put together a package of measures to demonstrate its resolve to meet future targets and ensure the country ‘remains a world leader in this field’.

New climate change measures include: –

        • The establishment of a Cabinet Sub-Committee on Climate Change – to embed climate change as a core priority across all government departments and provide a regular focus on climate change for the country’s key decision-makers. 
        • A new regulatory framework on district heating – helping to tackle carbon emissions from heating buildings and water, which make up around half of Scotland’s carbon emissions. 
        • Homes energy efficiency – £5m made available for energy efficiency upgrades for rural areas such as Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles. 
        • Transport – A further £15m for cycling, walking and electric vehicles and for the Smarter Choices Smarter Places programme to promote low-carbon, healthier transport options 

This new announcement has been welcomed by coalition organisation Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, with spokesperson Gina Hanrahan now of the belief that ‘the government is serious about getting us back on track to meet future targets’.

AUDIO: Stop Climate Chaos Scotland reaction

“These are important first steps and we will need to build on them to realise the full potential of the Climate Change Act,” said Hanrahan. “While acknowledging changes to how we measure greenhouse gas emissions has on this occasion made the targets harder to meet, this shouldn’t distract from future efforts to develop a low-carbon economy.”

The longer term trend still shows a substantial emissions reduction across Scotland; of 26.4% since a 1990 baseline, indicating that the country is on track to meet the statutory 42% reduction in emissions by 2020, which is prescribed under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act.

Easy targets

But Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow, remains sceptical. “It’s deeply concerning that after years of self-congratulation for setting ambitious targets, Scotland has now missed the first three in a row,” he said. 

“The tough reality is that the first three annual targets were the easy ones – and these are the ones the Government has missed.

“The next annual target is the first which demands a really big cut of over five million tonnes, and there is little sign that the Government understands the scale of the challenge that lies ahead.”

Scotland has a long-term target of 80% carbon emissions reduction by 2050.

Luke Nicholls

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