Greenhouse gas emissions will be slashed by two thirds from 1990 levels in the next 15 years under the Scottish Government’s new action plan to tackle global warming.
Scottish environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham says the draft Climate Change Plan demonstrates “a new level of ambition” in the challenge to combat climate change, which is widely considered to be the biggest threat ever to face mankind.
Scotland has already exceeded its world-leading 2020 target, achieving a 42 per cent emissions cut six years early.
The latest plan raises the bar even higher, setting out how the country can cut emissions by 66 per cent by 2032.
Ms Cunningham says it will take green efforts into “truly transformational territory”, describing the targets as “ambitious” but “achievable”.
Achieving the goals will not only benefit the planet but also create jobs, improve health and cut poverty, she claims.
The key aims include cutting transport emissions by a third from 1990 levels, increasing forest cover by at least 15,000 hectares annually, restoring 250,000 hectares of peatlands and fully decarbonising the electricity sector – including bringing in carbon capture and storage technology.
“Our proposals for further deep cuts in emissions represent a new level of ambition which will help maintain Scotland’s reputation as a climate leader within the international community,” Ms Cunningham said.
“The transition to a low carbon economy offers important opportunities for Scotland – thanks to our highly skilled workforce, the strength of our research institutions and, of course, our natural resources.
“The Scottish Government’s ambitions are clear, but we have now reached a point in our journey where future progress will require the support of individuals, organisations and businesses across the country.”
But the new plan has drawn criticism from green campaigners, who fear a “lack of new actions”could make the vision impossible to deliver.
Tom Ballantine, chair of environmental coalition Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, added: “This is a draft plan – MSPs from across the parliament should use this opportunity to suggest concrete actions needed to help make this a world-leading climate change plan.
“The urgency could not be clearer, with this draft plan published straight after news that 2016 was the hottest year on record. With the threat from climate change increasing and affecting the lives of people here in Scotland and around the world, it’s time to shift up a gear.”