Scotland advised to cut emissions by 3.5% each year from 2020 to 2050, to make a fair contribution to tackling climate change – 1 February 2011

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) today advised the Scottish Government to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 3.5% each year from 2020 to 2050, as a ‘fair and safe’ contribution to tackling climate change.

The Committee was asked by the Scottish Government to recommend a cumulative emissions budget for Scotland for the period 2010 to 2050, to ensure that Scotland makes an appropriate contribution to wider global efforts to reduce emissions.

The Committee recommended a cumulative emissions budget of 1,250 MtCO2e between 2010 and 2050, suggesting that this should be achieved via a 42% cut in emissions by 2020 relative to 1990 levels, a 60% cut by 2030, and an 80% cut by 2050.

Achieving these targets will require 3-4% annual emissions reductions in Scotland to 2050, reducing per capita emissions from around 10 tCO2e now to 2 tCO2e in 2050.

Options to reduce emissions highlighted by the Committee include:

  • Buildings – improving the energy efficiency of buildings and homes, and by developing low carbon options for heating buildings e.g. the use of heat pumps, which together could see emissions cut by 60% in 2030.
  • Road transport –rolling out ‘smarter choices’ initiatives to encourage increased use of public transport, whilst continuing to improve new car efficiency and encourage the roll-out of electric vehicles, which could halve emissions by 2030.
  • Industry – emissions could be halved by 2030 if improved energy efficiency measures were put in place, alongside increased use of biomass and biogas.
  • Agriculture and land use – emissions could be reduced by 15% by 2030 if energy efficiency measures relating to soils and livestock were put in place. Emissions could also be reduced by planting more trees and protecting Scotland’s peat soils.
  • Power –the power sector will need to be largely decarbonised by 2030, through increasing the use of renewable forms of electricity generation and by applying Carbon Capture and Storage technology to coal and gas plants.

Achieving these climate change targets will cost between 1-2% of GDP in 2050.

David Kennedy, Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change said:

“There is potential in Scotland to make a significant contribution to wider efforts to tackle climate change. Emissions cuts of between 3 and 4% annually through to 2050 are feasible, but will require new policies. The cost of achieving emissions cuts is more than offset by the climate change and wider economic benefits.”

The advice was set out in a letter from Lord Adair Turner, Chair of the CCC to Scottish Minister for Environment and Climate Change Roseanna Cunningham MSP.

Notes to Editors:
Committee on Climate Change (CCC)

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is an independent statutory body established
under the Climate Change Act to advise the UK Government on setting carbon budgets, and to report to Parliament on the progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions:

  • Former Climate Change Minister, Stewart Stevenson wrote a letter to the Committee in August 2009, requesting advice relating to annual emissions targets. 
  • In February 2010, the CCC set out its advice to Scotland in relation to a 2020 emissions target, proposals for annual targets from 2010-2022 and recommendations on aviation and shipping emissions, in the report „Scotland‟s path to a low-carbon economy”. 
  • The letter to Roseanna Cunningham, published today, sets out the Committee‟s advice on a Scottish cumulative emissions budget covering the period 2010 to 2050.
  • The advice follows on from the Committee‟s 4th Budget report, which set out similar advice for the UK, setting a budget for 2023-2027 and emissions path to 2030 and 2050. 
  • The Committee will publish further advice to Scotland in May/June 2011 on recommendations for annual targets for 2023-2027, and on credit purchase for the period 2013-2017. 
  • The Committee will report on progress in reducing emissions in Scotland in our annual report to the UK Parliament in June 2011, and directly to the Scottish Government in January 2012. 

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