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Scotland’s role – 8 December 2008

Scotland will have a vital role to play in contributing towards UK-wide effort to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 34% by 2020, relative to 1990 levels (21% relative to 2005), revealed the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) today. This should be increased to 42% relative to 1990 (31% relative to 2005) once a global deal to reduce emissions is achieved. The CCC says meeting these targets is necessary to contain the threat of climate change.

Emissions in Scotland have already fallen by 13% between 1990 and 2006. The Scottish Government has signed up to an 80% emission reduction target by 2050, relative to 1990 – a level of target recommended by the CCC for the UK as an equitable contribution to global emissions eduction targets. The draft Scottish Climate Change Bill is due to be introduced to the Scottish Parliament by the end of the year.

The independent Committee’s first report on climate change includes an analysis of what opportunities exist for making emission reductions in Scotland. Scotland could contribute by reducing its emissions by up to 7.5 MtCO2e (million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) in 2020:

  • Emissions from buildings and industry could be reduced by up to 4 MtCO2 in 2020 by using energy more efficiently;
  • More efficient vehicles and new transport fuels could deliver reductions of up to 1.5 MtCO2 in 2020;
  • Emissions from agriculture, land use and forestry and waste management sectors could be reduced by up to 2 MtCO2e in 2020.

Building a low-carbon economy, the CCC’s first report sets out the analysis underpinning these recommendations and the proposed level of the first three carbon budgets for the UK covering the periods 2008-12, 2013-17 and 2018-22. 

The budgets are a worldwide first, designed under the Climate Change Act, which also establishes the CCC as an independent advisory body to Government.

These significant reductions can be achieved without harming the UK’s economy and at a cost less than 1% of GDP in 2020. In other words, an economy that might grow by 30% in the period to 2020, would instead grow by 29%. The CCC advises that this is a price worth paying, given the long-term costs of inaction on climate change.

Chair of the CCC Lord Turner said:

“Climate change poses a grave threat to human welfare, the environment and the economy. We need to act now, in the UK and as part of a global agreement, to significantly reduce our emissions.

It is not too late to tackle climate change, but it will be unless the world takes action soon, and the developed countries need to lead the way with strong commitments and strong delivery against the budgets. The budgets we have proposed are achievable given available and developing technologies, and provided the policies in place are implemented and where necessary reinforced.

The reductions required can be achieved at a very low cost to our economy: the cost of not achieving the reductions, at national and global level, will be far greater.

The Scottish Government has an important role to play in helping us to meet these carbon budgets by acting to reduce emissions across buildings and industry, agriculture and transport sectors where there is considerable abatement potential”.

Ed Miliband, Secretary of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, speaking at the launch this morning, welcomed the Committee’s report:

“Plotting a course to a low carbon future here in the UK is vital if we are to reach our domestic goals and reach an international agreement. Carbon budgets will set our trajectory and send out a clear message that we will tackle climate change here in the UK.”

“I would like to thank Lord Turner and the Committee for rising to the challenge and providing these very thorough recommendations. Carbon budgets will require a culture change where all important decisions will have to made on the basis of whether they fit the budget, whether missions savings can be made elsewhere or whether they simply can’t be done.”

“We will give the report the in-depth consideration it deserves before responding in full but I am pleased to say that from 2009, carbon budgets will take their place alongside financial budgets, and become pivotal to policy decisions within the UK.”

The CCC will be presenting their findings to the Scottish Government on 8th December at an event in Edinburgh.

Notes to Editors:
Committee on Climate Change (CCC)

The CCC is an independent body established under the Climate Change Act to advise the Government on setting the first legally binding carbon budgets, and to report to Parliament on the progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The CCC also advises on what the UK’s long-term climate change target should be as a fair contribution towards a global deal.

CCC web address: www.theccc.org.uk/

Scottish Government climate change site:

  • The UK should reduce Kyoto greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 (77% below 2005 emissions). This would be an appropriate UK contribution to a global deal aiming to reduce Kyoto gas emissions to between 20-24 billion tonnes by 2050 (about 50-60% below current global levels).
  • The 80% target should apply to the sum of all sectors of the UK economy, including international aviation and shipping.
  • Building a low-carbon economy sets out the UK’s first three carbon budgets for 2008-2022. Carbon budgets will apply to all Kyoto greenhouse gases. Two sets of budgets have been proposed, one to apply following a global deal on emissions reductions (“Intended” budgets), and the other to apply for the period before a global deal is reached (“Interim” budgets).
  • The Intended budgets require an emissions reduction of 42% in 2020 relative to 1990 (31% relative to 2005). The Interim budget requires a 34% emissions reduction in 2020(21% relative to 2005).
  • The Government should not plan to purchase offset credits (e.g. CDM) to meet the Interim budget. More generous use of offset credits, however, would be appropriate in transitioning from the Interim to the Intended budgets.
  • The cost of meeting proposed budgets is less than 1% of GDP in 2020, and potential competitiveness issues for energy intensive industries can be addressed through appropriate design of the policy framework.

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