Scotland toughens up climate action

14th June 2017


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Linda Wilkinson

The Scottish government will legislate on a new target to cut greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions by at least 90% by 2050, climate change secretary Roseanna Cunningham told the Scottish Parliament.

Scotland currently has a target to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050 compared with 1990, with an interim target to achieve a 42% reduction by 2020.

Holyrood is soon to launch a consultation on a revised Climate Change Bill, which proposes increases to these targets. Cunningham told parliament that Scotland emitted 45.5 MtCO2e in 2015, ahead of its target reduction for the year of 45.9 MtCO2e.

Emissions actually rose by 1.8% in 2015 compared with the previous year when using data adjusted to take into account Scotland’s participation in the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS), which is the method used for reporting against targets in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act, 2009.

Scottish GHG emissions, adjusted for the EU ETS, 1990 to 2015 (in MtCO2e)

Source: Scottish Government

Scotland’s actual emissions, known as ‘source emissions’ and including those from aviation and shipping, fell by 3% in 2015, compared with 2014. This was mainly due to a 12% fall in emissions from energy generation, according to a full report of Scotland’s emissions.

Between 1990 and 2015, there was a 37.6% reduction in source emissions, a 28.9 MtCO2e decrease.

Key causes were a 46% fall in emissions from energy production; a 40% drop in emissions from business and manufacturing; and a 75% cut in emissions from waste management, such as from landfill sites. Source emissions are used for comparing across the UK and internationally.

Cunningham also pledged further measures to support the new proposed target. These included reopening the climate challenge fund for 2018-19. Previous rounds of the fund have provided £86m investment in more than 600 communities since 2008.

The government will also invest in research to improve understanding of the benefits of capturing carbon in oceans and coastal ecosystems in Scotland. A report published by Scottish Natural Heritage in February estimated that the amount of so-called ‘blue carbon’ stored in Scotland’s inshore marine protected areas is equivalent to four years of Scotland’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Jim Densham from campaign group Stop Climate Chaos Scotland said: ‘To hit future climate change targets we now need to build on the early successes to supercharge action on key areas.

‘These include homes, farming and particularly transport, which is for the first time the largest source of emissions. Transport pollution has been stubbornly high for decades and we need significant action to catch up with other nations such as India and Norway which are planning to end the sale of fossil fuel cars by 2030,’ he said.

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