Beast from the East blamed for Scotland missing climate change target

The Beast from the East, which shut down much of the country in 2018, has been blamed for Scotland missing a climate target.

A woman makes her way through the snow on 1 March 2018 in Balloch, Scotland, during the Beast from the East. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
A woman makes her way through the snow on 1 March 2018 in Balloch, Scotland, during the Beast from the East. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Unseasonably cold temperatures and heavy snowfall brought transport to a halt and closed schools in late February and early March two years ago.

Scotland’s environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham told the Scottish Parliament an increase in energy usage during the cold snap has contributed to a 1.5 per cent rise in greenhouse gas emissions between 2017 and 2018.

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It meant the Scottish Government missed its own climate target to reduce emissions by 54 per cent compared to the 1990 baseline, which was put in place through legislation last year.

In statistics published yesterday, emissions were found to have reduced by 50 per cent. Speaking at Holyrood yesterday, Ms Cunningham told MSPs: “This outcome is certainly disappointing but we should not lose sight of two things.”

She said the targets were set to provide “an extremely stretching pathway” to net-zero, which “will inevitably face challenges”.

Ms Cunningham added: “Today’s statistics do highlight one such setback, with changes to the national energy mix and freezing temperatures from the Beast from the East in the early months of 2018 contributing to a rise in emissions from energy supply and heating used for buildings.”

The statistics show a rise of 800,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in the energy supply, a jump of 13.4 per cent between 2017 and 2018.

Ms Cunningham said: “We remain absolutely committed to ending Scotland’s emissions contribution by 2045, with a 75 per cent reduction being achieved by 2030.”

The environment secretary said the figures do not reflect more recent efforts to tackle the climate emergency.

“The actions not yet being picked up include most aspects of our 2018 climate change plan,” she said.

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“It also misses all of the measures announced following the First Minister’s declaration of a global climate emergency in 2019.”

The deposit return scheme, an increase in funding for peatland restoration and a funding boost for Energy Efficient Scotland to more than £150 million are among the actions taken since 2018, according to the Environment Secretary.

The Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019 set a target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2045.

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