Good progress but much more to do to fulfil Scotland’s ambition

A new report published today by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC)  concludes that Scotland has continued to make good progress towards meeting ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but that the Scottish Government will need to strengthen key policies to meet future targets.

Scotland has done well in implementing emission reduction measures in a number of areas and is often leading the UK. There has been good progress in deploying renewable electricity generation capacity, with generation accounting for 44% of electricity consumption in 2013, and in installing community and locally-owned energy projects with a 40% increase in capacity from 2012. Scotland is on track to meet its 2020 energy consumption target early, with energy demand down almost 12% compared to a 2005-2007 baseline.

Despite these achievements, Scotland missed its legislated 2012 target of 53.226 MtCO2e by around 2.8 MtCO2e (4.5%). The recent improvements to the method of calculating estimated emissions (Scottish greenhouse gas inventory) have had a major impact and without these changes it is likely Scotland would have met its 2012 target. However, there has been limited progress to reduce emissions from transport and agriculture, with ‘carbon sinks’ (such as forests) also falling short of government targets.

The Committee suggests that the Scottish Government should continue to investigate additional opportunities to reduce emissions that go beyond current policies. The Committee proposes to agree a process and timeline with the Scottish Government to advise on the implications of improved inventory data that is expected later in 2015 and again in 2017.

Meeting future targets remains very challenging, and will require further action in a number of sectors including low-carbon heat, energy efficiency, transport and agriculture and land use.  Even in areas of good progress, challenges remain to achieve the stretching targets set out by the Scottish Government.

Matthew Bell, Chief Executive of the CCC said:

“I have met with a large number of stakeholders in Scotland over recent months. Without exception they have commented positively on the ambition of the Scottish greenhouse gas reduction targets. That ambition means they are difficult to meet but also places Scotland among the leaders in the world. The Scottish government and wider society will have to consider what additional measures to take over the coming years to continue to live up to that ambition.”

These findings are from the Committee on Climate Change’s fourth progress report to the Scottish government, as requested under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act (2009).