Scotland leads on reducing CO2, but must cut more

26th March 2014

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Local government ,
  • Energy ,
  • Renewable ,
  • Conventional ,
  • Generation


Kevin Davies

Scotland is reducing CO2 emissions at a higher rate than the rest of the UK, but carbon saving measures need to be ramped up to meet long-term targets, says CCC

In its third annual report on the devolved government’s efforts to meet carbon reduction targets, the independent committee on climate change (CCC) praised the success of the Scottish government in cutting annual emissions by 9.9% in 2011 – far outstripping the UK as a whole, which cut CO2 output by just 6.9%.

While the CCC reports that a significant proportion of the reduction was due to warmer weather, it also highlighted improvements in Scotland’s energy sector, which resulted in emissions falling by 20% year-on-year as coal-fired electricity generation fell by 27% and electricity from renewables, particularly wind and hydropower increased 44%.

Despite what the CCC describes as “good progress” in reducing emissions, Scotland’s total CO2 output was 1.5% higher than its target for 2011 – 53.4 million tonnes CO2e. The CCC confirms that the target was missed because methods used to calculate national carbon emissions have improved since the target was set. The committee recommends that the Scottish government consider revising its future emissions targets in light of the changes to calculation methods.

Although, the CCC maintains that most sectors in Scotland are “on track” to meet the country’s long-term target of a 42% cut on 1990 levels by 2020, it warns that achieving a reduction of this scale will be “very challenging, and require further action”.

In particular, the CCC urges Scotland’s policymakers to take action to tackle the decline in the installation of energy efficiency measures in residential properties since the introduction of the Energy Company Obligation, and suggests that it may have to increase funding to support higher levels of insulation, for example.

It also warns the country will not meet its 2020 target of 11% of heat sourced from renewables unless more projects come online, and concludes that Scottish authorities must do more to leverage the funds available through the Renewable Heat Incentive.

Other recommendations include: supporting the development of an electric vehicle charging network; scaling up land-use pilot projects that offer carbon sequestration opportunities, such as restoring peatlands; and ensuring support for the renewable electricity sector.

“There has been good progress in Scotland on reducing emissions in key sectors of the economy, notably through investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency,” commented David Kennedy, chief executive of the CCC. “But much remains to be done in terms of policy development and implementation to achieve very challenging future targets.”

Responding to the CCC report, climate change minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “In 2011, Scotland led western Europe in terms of reducing our climate change emissions and the committee’s analysis of underlying trends in emissions indicates we remain on track to achieving our long term climate change targets.

“Scotland’s climate change targets are challenging, as they should be given the global impact of climate change. I note the committee's advice regarding the impact of revisions to the Scottish greenhouse gas inventory data for 2011 and subsequent years, and will closely examine both options identified to address the challenge this has created.”

Transform articles

National climate plans could see fossil fuel demand peak by 2025

Demand for fossil fuels will peak by 2025 if all national net-zero pledges are implemented in full and on time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has forecast.

15th October 2021

Read more

The Green Homes Grant is set to deliver only a fraction of the jobs and improvements intended, leading to calls for more involvement from local authorities in future schemes.

23rd September 2021

Read more

COVID-19 recovery packages have largely focused on protecting, rather than transforming, existing industries, and have been a “lost opportunity” for speeding up the global energy transition.

23rd September 2021

Read more

Half of the world's 40 largest listed oil and gas companies will have to slash their production by at least 50% by the 2030s to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement, new analysis has found.

9th September 2021

Read more

None of England’s water and sewerage companies achieved all environmental expectations for the period 2015 to 2020, the Environment Agency has revealed. These targets included the reduction of total pollution incidents by at least one-third compared with 2012, and for incident self-reporting to be at least 75%.

30th July 2021

Read more

The UK’s pipeline for renewable energy projects could mitigate 90% of job losses caused by COVID-19 and help deliver the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. That is according to a recent report from consultancy EY-Parthenon, which outlines how the UK’s £108bn “visible pipeline” of investible renewable energy projects could create 625,000 jobs.

30th July 2021

Read more

Billions of people worldwide have been unable to access safe drinking water and sanitation in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a progress report from the World Health Organisation focusing on the UN’s sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) – to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030”.

30th July 2021

Read more

The oil and gas industry is set to burn through its allocated carbon budget 13 years early unless decisive action is taken immediately, new analysis has found.

22nd July 2021

Read more

The UK will no longer use unabated coal to generate electricity from October 2024, one year earlier than originally planned, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has announced.

2nd July 2021

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert