Scotland makes good progress in implementing its climate change strategy – 12 March 2013

Scotland has continued to make progress reducing emissions, according to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). The CCC today published its second progress report to Scottish Ministers, as requested under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act (2009).

Scotland is committed to a series of annual emission reductions targets, which are currently legislated from 2010 to 2027. The report assesses progress against the first (2010) target. It finds that although the target was missed by just over 1 MtCO2e (2%), this can be attributed to the exceptionally cold winter months which increased energy demand for heating, particularly in the residential sector. In a normal year for temperature, the report suggests that the target would have been achieved.

The key point is whether there has been underlying progress implementing low-carbon policy measures. The report concludes that Scotland has performed well in this respect across most sectors, including:

  • continuing to lead the UK on renewable power with 36% of electricity consumption met from renewable energy – exceeding the 2011 target of 31%, and above the UK (9%);
  • setting a 2030 decarbonisation target, providing longer-term certainty for the power sector which is in line with the CCC’s recommendations (50gCO2/kWh);
  • making steady improvements in the insulation of homes with loft insulation rates more than doubling from 40,000 in 2008-09 to 104,000 in 2011-12;
  • legislating waste targets ahead of EU requirements. Regulations have been passed in the Scottish Parliament and a new body (Zero Waste Scotland) has been set up to help deliver targets;
  • Increasing tree planting rates close to the target level. Proposals have been made to increase the amount of Scottish timber being used in the construction and refurbishment of buildings which is in line with recommendations made in the CCC’s bioenergy review;
  • £1.7million for peatland restoration from 2012-2015.

David Kennedy, Chief Executive of the CCC said:

“Scotland has made good progress in delivering on emission reduction measures to date. This lays the foundations for meeting ambitious Scottish emissions targets and building a low-carbon economy in Scotland with the benefits that this will bring. It is important that the Scottish Government now focuses on fully developing its policy proposals and ensuring these and existing policies are delivered to their full potential.”

Going forward the CCC recommends a significant increase in effort in developing and implementing existing policies if Scotland is to meet its climate change commitments. In particular:

  • On renewable power, the Scottish Government has helped to provide longer-term certainty for the sector by setting a 2030 decarbonisation target. However, at the UK level there is still uncertainty over the support framework for low-carbon generation beyond 2020, which could destabilise investment markets in the longer term. This confirms the need for a pro-active role for the Scottish Government in the design and implementation of the UK Government’s Electricity Market Reform, if targets are to be achieved.
  • In the residential sector, there is further potential for loft and cavity wall insulations and a considerable challenge remains in rolling out solid wall insulation. There are plans for a ‘National Retrofit Programme’ targeted initially at fuel poor households. It will be important for the Scottish Government to ensure a commensurate share of the GB-wide Energy Company Obligation (ECO) funding is drawn into Scotland to help tackle fuel poverty.
  • The Scottish Government’s forthcoming renewable heat strategy should identify and overcome non-financial barriers to the uptake of renewable heat in Scotland – as well as identify opportunities to maximise the potential of the Renewable Heat Incentive in Scotland.
  • On transport, evaluation of the ‘Smarter Choices Smarter Places’ pilot scheme (which is due shortly) should inform the future development of travel demand policies and their implementation.

However, meeting targets to 2020 will continue to be difficult unless the EU moves to a 30% target for 2020 and tightens the EU ETS cap accordingly. Without this, even implementing all of the proposed policies will not be enough to meet targets.

Through the 2020s, the Scottish Government has set out a package of policies and proposals that looks feasible but there is considerable uncertainty over how exactly it can be delivered. It is important for the Scottish Government to continue to develop the detail around proposals and focus on implementing/delivering policies at the increased rate that will be required across all sectors to meet future targets.


Notes to Editors:

  • Temperature adjusted data – the CCC considered data on gas sales, which are temperature-adjusted and therefore allow a comparison of gas use over time, controlling for weather changes. This shows a continued downward trend in residential gas use, once the effect of the colder temperatures is stripped out.
  • EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) cap: Scotland’s targets are set on a net basis – that is they account for trading in the EU ETS, which covers energy-intensive industries and electricity generators. A cap on emissions from these sectors has been estimated for Scotland, which reflects the current ambition of the European Union to reduce EU-wide emissions by 20% by 2020 from 1990 levels. On current projections, an increased EU ambition for 2020 (to a 30% reduction), and further limits on allowed traded sector emissions, is needed for Scotland to meet its 2020 commitments.