Government ‘could miss climate change targets’
The Scottish Government has been urged by four parliamentary committees to improve its approach to climate change targets.
MSPs delivered their judgments on the same day, welcoming ministers’ ambition but urging them to look again at key areas.
Without further effort, the Government risks missing some annual targets and should promote a “”step-change” in public attitude to climate change, the reports warn.
Details are lacking and communities must be made to feel part of the solution, ministers were told.
It was revealed last October that carbon emissions targets for 2010 were not reached. This was attributed to more demand for energy for heating because of bad weather.
Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse explained in January that new measures will compensate for the missed target, as he outlined the Report on Proposals and Policies (RPP2), which is aimed at meeting climate change ambitions up to 2027.
In the first of the four Holyrood reports, Rob Gibson, convener of the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee, said: “The statutory targets required by the Climate Change Act are world leading and the fact that we have this report from the Scottish Government which seeks to set out long-term plans to tackle climate change in Scotland should be applauded.
“But, the committee is concerned that, going forward, some of the annual targets set out in the draft RPP2 report will be missed unless all policies and proposals are implemented.”
Scotland is over-reliant on the EU changing its emissions targets and the Government needs to “beef up” its report to address concerns, the convener said.
Maureen Watt, convener of the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee, said: “The transformational change needed to meet these challenging targets in relation to housing and transport not only requires the Scottish Government to have an ambitious approach but society as a whole.
“We must recognise that each and every one of us has a responsibility to help tackle climate change and deliver the step-change needed for Scotland to meet these challenging targets.”
Murdo Fraser, convener of the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee, said: “It’s clear that the principle behind this report is welcome. However, the committee heard a number of concerns that although the direction of travel is clear, the detail of how we get there is lacking in some areas.”
Kevin Stewart, convener of the Local Government and Regeneration Committee, said: “Scotland’s ambitious climate change targets will only be met if we work together to change our behaviour. There needs to be a commitment to work with the people living and working in communities to ensure that climate change policies are not just things done to them but with them.”
The Scottish Government said that the latest data for 2010 saw Scotland lead Europe on greenhouse gas emission reductions.
RPP2 sets out action across many sectors including renewables and zero waste, said Minister for Environment and Climate Change Paul Wheelhouse.
Mr Wheelhouse said: “The RPP2 shows how Scotland can achieve its emissions targets from 2013 to 2027 and we remain committed to action on climate change, even in the face of faltering ambition elsewhere.
“We will continue to encourage our European neighbours to share Scotland’s ambition, but even without a stronger EU climate target, the RPP2 shows how we could deliver more than the 42% reduction in 2020 required by Scotland’s Climate Change Act, going further than our independent advisors, the Committee on Climate Change, suggested was possible unless the EU adopted a 30% emissions reduction target.
“We will now consider the detailed and thoughtful contributions from stakeholders and Parliament - which are a vital part of the scrutiny process - as we finalise the report.”
Green MSPs said the committee reports should have gone further in exposing “core weaknesses”.
They supported calls from the Economy Energy and Tourism committee for more action from the government on cheap low-carbon heat, energy and water efficiency but said its report failed to push the government on the “massive risks” associated with “unproven” carbon capture technology and failed to recognise the potential of community and publicly-owned renewables.
Green MSP and committee member Alison Johnstone said: “The evidence we’ve heard is very clear that the targets are achievable but we can’t store up big choices or avoid making big changes for another decade.
“The government’s plan lacks ambition on cheap and clean heat and is worryingly dependent on carbon capture technology that is unlikely to make a difference in time.
“We are seriously missing a trick if we allow our renewables boom to be captured by big companies instead of communities and councils who could secure a lasting income.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 12 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east