The Scottish Government is proposing to table historic new climate change legislation in the Autumn. It has asked the Committee on Climate Change to provide independent advice on central aspects of that legislation. Today, the Committee has provided that advice.
The Committee concludes that the Scottish Parliament has two options for a new 2050 target for greenhouse gas reduction:
- 2050 emissions reduction target of at least 80% (on 1990). This would retain the current target which was set to be consistent with a world aiming to limit global temperature rise to 2°C. If Parliament selects this option then the legislation must set out a process to review the target at future dates with a view to amending it as further evidence about options to reduce emissions and their costs emerges. This approach means adopting strong policies to reduce emissions between now and 2030 to meet the target and in anticipation that a more ambitious 2050 target could be set at a future date. The level of ambition could be reviewed in line with the international timetable set out in the Paris Agreement.
- 2050 emissions reduction target of 90% (on 1990). This increase above the current target would more closely reflect the ambition set out in the Paris Agreement. A 90% target for all greenhouse gases could potentially be accompanied by a 2050 target to reduce Scotland’s CO2 emissions to ‘net-zero’. A net-zero target would reflect the commitment under the Paris Agreement to reach net zero global emissions in the second half of the century. The 90% target is at the limit of current CCC emissions reduction pathways for Scotland and would require very strong progress in every sector.
The report further concludes:
- Scotland should set a target to reduce emissions by 66% in 2030 on 1990 levels, supported by a target for a 56% reduction by 2020. These reductions would keep open the option to achieve more ambitious levels of emissions reduction by 2050 (e.g. 90% the reduction discussed above), and would allow Scotland to increase its overall ambition (and set it into legislation) at a later date, if required. An interim 2040 target should be set to be consistent with the final 2050 ambition.
- The overall Scottish emissions accounting framework should change to a one based on actual emissions, instead of the current system which adjusts emissions in line with the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). This shift would be more transparent than the existing framework and would encourage decarbonisation across all sectors of the Scottish economy. Particular provisions should be made to ensure that the shift does not result in industrial production shifting outside Scotland. These provisions are discussed in detail in the main report but include reviewing carbon targets in the case of major changes to industry and the option to purchase credits for smaller changes in industrial output.
The Committee has also advised on other technical issues (see notes below).
In developing its advice, the Committee considered the latest climate science, the implications of the Paris Agreement and the feasibility and cost of long-term emissions reductions in Scotland. The recommendations reflect experience of the current Climate Change (Scotland) Act, responses to the CCC call for evidence on the Scottish Climate Change Bill, a public hearing held by the Committee to seek views in specific areas and wider engagement and discussions.
Committee member Professor Jim Skea said: “Scotland has been leading the way in reducing emissions while continuing to grow its economy. The Paris Agreement represents a landmark change in global action to tackle climate change. The proposed legislation could allow Scotland to build on its own progress and international changes. In doing so, the Scottish Parliament should reflect on the right balance between ambition and achievement, as well as the range of direct and indirect benefits that come with acting to reduce carbon emissions. I would like to thank the many individuals, companies and officials who provided input to our final advice.”
Notes to editors
The Committee has also advised that:
- Scotland’s share of international aviation and international shipping should be included within Scottish emissions targets. Given the CCC’s recommendation that emissions accounting be based on actual emissions, rather than net emissions used for UK carbon budgets, their inclusion on the basis of fuel sales would present no practical challenges. Inclusion within the carbon targets does not necessarily imply unilateral domestic action is required to reduce these emissions. It is compatible with the development of a credible international regime for international aviation and shipping emissions.
- It has assumed a continued use of annual emissions reductions targets: setting emissions reduction targets for every year is the widely accepted approach in Scotland (in contrast, for example, to UK or Welsh carbon budgets that are set over multiple years). The Committee’s advice has been developed under the assumption that Scotland will continue to use annual targets. However, the Committee notes that multi-year carbon budgets, similar to UK carbon budgets, also have advantages. If Scotland chooses to adopt multi-year budgets, the CCC recommends maintaining annual scrutiny of performance against emissions targets given the need for consistent progress to reduce emissions.