Energy efficiency is to be designated a national infrastructure priority after Scotland again failed to meet its climate change targets.
Scotland's emissions fell to 49.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) in 2013, according to figures released yesterday. This is a 38.4% reduction from the 1990 baseline against which the targets are measured.
It is a larger decline than the 31.7% anticipated when Scotland passed climate change legislation in 2009. However, since the annual targets were set, the baseline has been increased by 10.6 MtCO2e due to technical changes in the way carbon emissions are measured.
As a result, Scotland missed its 2013 target by 1.7 MtCO2e, Scottish climate change minister Aileen McLeod told the Scottish parliament yesterday.
"The figures show that if it had not been for successive increases to the baseline since the targets were established, Scotland would have met, and exceeded, our target for this year - and the three previous years too.
"Of course, if our targets were easy to achieve they would not be ambitious enough," she said.
The government has identified energy efficiency as a key way to meet targets, as the energy to heat and cool buildings in Scotland account for approximately half the country's greenhousegas emissions, according to McLeod.
Funding by the Scottish government for energy efficiency projects has increased from £99 million last year to £119 million this year, she added.
In March, the Committee on Climate Change concluded that Scotland's future targets remain "very challenging" and recommended that the government in Edinburgh investigate new ways to reduce emissions beyond current policies.
Other new initiatives announced by the Scottish government yesterday include:
- New flaring technology to reduce CO2 emissions from landfill sites in Glasgow and East Lothian.
- An additional £5 million over two years to support local authorities that have yet to roll out food waste collections.
- A further £3 million for peatland restoration.
- Research on the "school run" to identify ways to reduce emissions from cars.
- A low-emission zone pilot project in partnership with a local authority to test the feasibility of restricting vehicles that not meet a specific standard from an area.
Tom Ballantine, chair of the campaign group, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, praised the push on energy efficiency, but said the government's plans for transport fall well short of what is needed.
"Climate emissions from transport continue to languish at 1990 levels, and it seems like the Scottish government's transport policies are stuck in the last century too," he said.