MSP feels heat after climate change targets missed

Climate change minister Aileen McLeod is under fire. Picture: PA
Climate change minister Aileen McLeod is under fire. Picture: PA
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THE SCOTTISH Government’s progress in living up to “world-leading” climate change legislation has come under fire from MSPs after annual targets were repeatedly missed.

Holyrood’s environment committee has written to new climate change minister Aileen MacLeod warning that confidence could be undermined in the flagship drive to cut emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 after recent failures.

The Scottish Government must now look at what more can be done to meet the targets.

“Delivering ambitious reductions in emissions and making real progress requires a change in approach and behaviour across all parts of society and cannot be delivered by government alone,” Nationalist convenor Rob Gibson said in a letter to the minister.

The hard-hitting letter comes amid concerns Holyrood committees aren’t critical enough of the SNP government, with Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick even setting out plans for an overhaul of the system to give committees more bite.

Ms MacLeod is being urged to consider what more could be done to meet the country’s ambitious climate change targets. MSPs suggest more must done to get motorists to switch to electric cars, homes should be better insulated and farmers cut back on the use of environmentally unfriendly fertilisers. Members of Holyrood’s rural affairs, climate change and environment committee have also warned Ms MacLeod any reduction in the tough targets “would not send the right message globally about Scotland’s commitment”.

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In June, it was revealed that Scotland had missed its target for reducing greenhouse gases for the third year in a row.

Paul Wheelhouse, the then environment minister, said that achieving the Scottish Government’s “ambitious’’ targets was “even harder than Parliament and society realised’’.

Emissions rose slightly (0.8 per cent) in 2012, bucking a general downward trend over the last decade. They were estimated to be 55.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), above the target of 53.226 Mt.

Mr Gibson told Ms MacLeod it was a “disappointment that the three successive annual targets have been missed.”

He added: “The missed annual targets remain a concern in sustaining confidence that the annual targets as set to 2027, and targets to secure an 80 per cent reduction by 2050, will be met.”

Mr Gibson, an SNP MSP, said “whilst the targets are tough to meet, they set out the ambition Scotland has enshrined in law”, arguing that any change to these could “be seen, perhaps globally, as being a climbdown”.

Mr Gibson added: “Revising the annual targets at this time would not send the right message globally about Scotland’s commitment to achieving those targets.

“The committee encourages the Scottish Government to consider what more can be done to meet the targets.”

Ms MacLeod said a new cabinet sub-committee on climate change has been set-up to focus on delivering emissions reductions. She added: “Solid progress has been made towards achieving the 42 per cent reduction in emissions reduction in emissions by 2020.”

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