Green action on land and transport needed to hit climate targets

Action is needed on green transport to hit climate change targets, Government advisers say.
Action is needed on green transport to hit climate change targets, Government advisers say.
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Scotland must step up green action on transport, agriculture and buildings in order to meet long-term climate targets, according to independent government advisers.

In its fifth annual report to Scottish ministers on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has acknowledged solid progress in many sectors – particularly renewable power generation, waste and energy-efficiency.

But advisers say more must be done to ensure the country remains on track to achieve ambitious aims for 2050.

Scotland continues to lead the UK in cutting emissions, and achieved its world-leading goal for 2020 six years early.

The latest figures show a 46 per cent decrease from the 1990 baseline level, exceeding the 42 per cent set out.

It was the first year the country hit its interim annual target since reporting began, after narrowly missing the previous four.

Emissions have fallen by around 3.3 per cent annually since 2009, largely due to a drop in coal power and expansion of renewable generation.

But there has been little progress in transport, where emissions have remained virtually static due to improved vehicle efficiency being offset by increased demand.

Reductions have been slow in the farming and land sector, with annual tree-planting targets yet to be met.

Uptake of renewable heat has also been sluggish, although capacity is increasing and district heating is more advanced than in other parts of the UK.

“Scotland has very high ambitions post-2020, and in order to meet those it means some of the focus will have to shift from the very strong performance in reducing emissions in the power sector to getting equally strong performance in transport, buildings and agriculture,” said Matthew Bell, chief executive of the committee.

“In some areas, and buildings is probably the main one, quite a lot of thought has been put in. You can see some successes starting to emerge, but much more needs to be done.

“In other areas, like transport and agriculture, I think we’re more in the foothills.”

He said Scottish ministers must set out “a very clear strategy” in order to see results.

“There is every indication that we can get there,” he said

“What it requires is slow ramping up of effort so that we don’t all of a sudden discover in 2023 that not enough has been done – it would be very expensive.”