The Scottish Government has announced it will set a legally binding goal to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the latest, in line with the latest recommendations from the Committee on Climate Change. Interim targets for emissions cuts of 70 per cent by 2030 and 90 per cent by 2040 will also be included in the forthcoming Climate Change Bill – the highest statutory targets for these years.
Scottish environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “There is a global climate emergency and people across Scotland have been calling, rightly, for more ambition to tackle it and safeguard our planet for future generations.
“Having received independent, expert advice that even higher targets are now possible, and given the urgency required on this issue, I have acted immediately to set a target for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for 2045, which will see Scotland become carbon neutral by 2040.
“I have been consistently clear that our targets must be ambitious, credible and responsible. We must take an evidence-based approach and balance our climate, economic and social responsibilities.
“We have already halved greenhouse gas emissions from Scotland while growing the economy, so we know we can do it. I am committed to meeting the most ambitious targets possible, and doing so while continuing to build an inclusive and fair economy.”
She said everyone must play their part and called for Westminster to work with Scotland to achieve climate goals.
The new report updates the CCC’s previous advice, which had found a net-zero target was not realistic.
The new target will raise the goals set out in the draft Climate Change Bill, which had demanded a 90 per cent drop in emissions by 2050, but stated that a net-zero target would be set as soon as was practicably possible.
The CCC report concludes that Scotland is well equipped to achieve a 100 per cent cut in emissions from the 1990 baseline level by 2045 – five years ahead of the rest of the UK.
It says the targets are achievable with known technologies and improvements in people’s behaviour, and at an affordable overall cost.
A range of measures and new policies will be necessary to hit the targets, many of which are already being developed.
These include increasing green power, energy-efficient buildings, switching to electric vehicles and introducing carbon capture and storage technology. But the authors acknowledge slashing emissions in some sectors – namely agriculture and aviation – will be difficult.
The report shows there are multiple benefits of moving to a zero-carbon economy, such as improvements in public health and economic opportunities. However, it stresses the costs of moving to a low-carbon society must be fair.
CCC chairman Lord Deben warned that hitting the targets would be challenging.
He said: “Scotland has been a leader within the UK with many of its policies to tackle climate change. By setting a strong net-zero target for 2045 it can continue that leadership on the world stage.
“It will be tough, but it can be done and Scotland’s strong track record positions it well to succeed.”
The decision to adopt the net-zero target has been welcomed by environmentalists, academics and industry.
Mike Robinson, board member of the coalition Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, said: “Tackling climate change is our moral obligation, but this report shows it is also possible and affordable.”