New figures show Scotland hit its annual emissions reduction target for 2015, with transport overtaking energy to become the largest emitting sector for the first time. Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has announced Scotland will target a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 as part of the new climate change bill.
Government statistics show that although transport emissions have remained relatively steady from 1990, they increased by 0.4% since 2014, mainly due to an increase in emissions from road transport, in particular passenger cars, light trucks, lorries and buses.
Jim Densham from Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) 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. The forthcoming Climate Change Plan and the Climate Change Bill are key opportunities to set out policies to deliver the benefits of a low carbon future. The Scottish Parliament has a chance to show continued leadership to ensure that the new bill delivers. We call on all parties to work together to ensure Scotland remains a world leader on climate action.”
Figures show the share of Scottish electricity generation arising from the renewables sector (including hydro natural flow) has increased from 11.7% in 2004 to 42.3% in 2015.
Green MSP Mark Ruskell said that although Scotland has made progress on renewable energy, “the SNP approach to transport policy is still borrowed from the 1980s. People throughout Scotland will want to know why the SNP is proposing unacceptable tax cuts for wealthy frequent flyers, but failing to make it cheaper to travel everyday by bus and train.”
Announcing plans for a consultation on the Climate Change Bill, Roseanna Cunningham told MSPs that the Scottish Government’s climate change plan, previously expected for the end of the year, would be released at the start of 2018. The Scottish Government will establish an expert advisory group to help with the finalisation of the plan. Cunningham also pledged to re-open the Climate Challenge Fund for 2018-19 applications from communities and to invest in research on blue carbon.
She said: “Our proposals to reduce emissions by at least 90% by 2050 clearly indicate to the people of Scotland that we remain resolutely committed to the fight against climate change. Scotland has long punched above its weight on this issue. Moving towards new targets in our proposed Climate Change Bill will strengthen our position at the forefront of the global transition to a low carbon economy. As a country which has an international reputation as a climate change leader there is now a huge opportunity to reap the economic and social benefits of our efforts and for us to become a more sustainable economy. We are determined to seize this opportunity, and fulfil our moral obligations to future generations.”
Scottish Labour’s Environment spokesperson Claudia Beamish said: “Despite a fall last year, it is clear that meeting these targets will become more challenging. Climate change is a global problem and tackling it is one of the most important things facing the whole world. Climate justice is essential at home and abroad. The Climate Change Plan is an opportunity to tackle the heavy emitting sectors of which transport is now the worst. It must not be squandered with warm words but weak policy.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat energy spokesperson Liam McArthur said: “For years there has been insufficient action from SNP ministers to transform our transport system, boost active travel and attract people onto public transport. The Scottish Government’s Draft Climate Change Plan lacks real ambition to reduce demand and encourage the shift towards low carbon transport. If the First Minister’s visit to the ground-breaking Tesla Motors in California was anything more than another photo-op, then the government will need to show that they are serious about making our transport system cleaner and greener.”
Source: Holyrood Magazine