UK ‘will fail to hit emissions targets’

The UK is set to fall short of its target, says a new report. Picture: TSPL
The UK is set to fall short of its target, says a new report. Picture: TSPL
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THE UK faces missing key targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions through the 2020s, a new report has warned.

There are “significant risks” that earlier progress in reducing emissions has now stalled, the committee on climate change says today. The UK’s overall performance in renewables could be weak in the future, with insulation for homes already at “very low levels”, it adds.

The committee, an independent body which advises the UK government, said Scotland was outperforming the rest of the country, with harmful emissions falling faster north of the Border.

Scottish emissions fell by 10 per cent, compared with 7 per cent for the UK as a whole, and 5 per cent in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Scotland is also “making very good progress in increasing its renewable energy capacity” despite the SNP government missing its climate change target for the second year in a row, the report said.

The annual report to Westminster warns that more action is needed to strengthen policies and increase the rate of cuts to emissions across the UK before the general election in 2015.

Last year, emissions rose by 3.5 per cent, mostly due to the cold winter and more use of coal instead of gas to generate electricity, with the dirtier fossil fuel rising from 30 per cent of the energy mix in 2011 to 39 per cent in 2012.

Without this, emissions would have fallen by between 1 per cent and 1.5 per cent – still short of the 3 per cent annual reductions which will be needed to meet targets to cut greenhouse gases in the 2020s.

Patrick Harvie, co-leader of the Scottish Greens, said the findings showed the Scottish and UK governments were failing on climate change.

“These results are disappointing, but not surprising given the lack of political will to tackle climate change,” he said.

“There’s no doubt that Holyrood has the powers to meet the targets itself by doing more to promote sustainable transport and energy-efficient technology for homes.

“With additional powers, Holyrood could achieve more, but neither the UK nor Scottish government has shown the political will to meet these targets.”

Holyrood’s energy committee convener Murdo Fraser claimed the report showed the SNP government’s policy of heavily promoting renewable energy such as wind farms had failed.

Mr Fraser, Scottish Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said: “Despite the Scottish Government’s rush to develop renewable energy, it’s clear that it is still not on track to meet its climate change targets.”

However, the Scottish Government, which is due to publish its new climate action plan tomorrow, insisted that its record on renewable energy was better than that of Westminster.”