Scotland fails to meet GHG targets

11th June 2014

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Paul Di Mambro

Scotland has failed to meet statutory emissions reduction targets for the third year running, according to new data released by the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory.

Overall greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions in Scotland increased by 0.8% (52.5 MtCO2e) between 2011 and 2012. Adjusting the data to take account of trading in the EU emissions trading system (ETS), emissions increased by a further 0.5%, from 55.4 MtCO2e to 55.7 MtCO2e, over the same period.

The increase in emissions in 2011-12 is partly attributable to a exceptionally cold winter, which increased energy demand and resulted in a shift from natural gas to cheaper coal-fired power generation.

The Scottish government has set a target to reduce by GHG emissions by 42% by 2020 relative to 1990 levels, which is significantly higher than the overall 34% reduction set by the UK government. But the rise in emissions in 2012 will make it tougher for the Scottish government to achieve its targets.

Environment and climate change minister Paul Wheelhouse conceded that the latest figures make achieving the 2020 target harder, but he said it remains the "right thing to do".

"Scotland chose to have stretching targets because we were aware of the scale of the challenge of climate change. And we should be proud of the efforts that have been made across society since the 2009 Climate Change [Scotland] Act," said Wheelhouse.

Comparing Scotland's track record to the rest of the UK, Wheelhouse said: "The data indicate that Scotland has seen a 29.9% reduction in emissions of the basket of six key GHGs between 1990 and 2012. This contrasts with a reduction of 23.9% for England, 17.7% for Wales and 15% for Northern Ireland."

Wheelhouse, meanwhile, has announced the establishment of a cabinet sub-committee on climate change to support a raft of new mitigation measures, including energy efficiency, transport planning, district heating and electric vehicles.

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