Scotland leading the way on greenhouse gas cuts

Wind farms such as this one at Eaglesham have helped Scotland cut greenhouse gas emissions to nearly half what they were in 1990. Photograph: John Devlin

Wind farms such as this one at Eaglesham have helped Scotland cut greenhouse gas emissions to nearly half what they were in 1990. Photograph: John Devlin

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Scotland has achieved the second-highest reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in Western Europe, according to the latest official figures.

Out of the EU-15 countries, only Sweden has delivered higher cuts.

Scotland also continues to outperform the rest of the UK.

The news comes after emissions reporting statistics showed Scotland had exceeded its own world-leading targets six years early, prompting a pledge from leaders to up the ante.

The latest data, which includes international aviation and shipping but not offshore operations, shows that source emissions have fallen by nearly 40 per cent north of the border from 1990 to 2014.

This compares to 33 per cent for the UK as a whole.

Reductions for England, Wales and Northern Ireland over the same period were 34.2 per cent, 17.9 per cent and 16.5 per cent respectively.

Scotland has been praised for setting the world’s toughest climate change ambitions – for emissions cuts of 42 per cent from the 1990 baseline by 2020. Now the First Minister has pledged to raise the bar after a 45.8 per cent cut in emissions for reporting against targets was attained.

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed a new 2020 target, to reduce emissions by at least 50 per cent since 1990, will be set.

Environmentalists have welcomed the figures but claim more can be done.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said new climate legislation offers “an opportunity to set out transformational plans”.

“There is no room for complacency if Scotland is to maintain its position as a leader on climate change and to capture the many social, health and economic benefits of moving to a zero-carbon future,” he said.

“Outside the electricity and waste sectors, progress to cut carbon has been far too slow. Sectors in need of urgent attention include transport, where emissions remain stuck at 1990 levels, and housing, with too many wasting cash heating the outside of their leaky homes.”

Scottish environment and climate change secretary Roseanna Cunningham said the figures show Scotland continues to “punch above its weight” internationally.

She added: “Climate change is a global one and other countries must match Scotland’s levels of ambition and action if the goal in last year’s international Paris climate change agreement, of limiting global warming to well below two degrees Celsius, is to be realised.”

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