SNP’s climate change and fuel poverty targets face £4.6bn ‘shortfall’

SPENDING must be increased by up to ten times current levels to meet the SNP’s own climate change and fuel poverty targets, a new report has found.

SPENDING must be increased by up to ten times current levels to meet the SNP’s own climate change and fuel poverty targets, a new report has found.

A study by WWF Scotland found that for the government to meet its commitment of a 36 per cent reduction in emissions from Scottish homes by 2020, it must invest £4.6 billion in improving energy efficiency – three times the current and projected expenditure.

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Meanwhile, the SNP’s commitment to eradicating fuel poverty will cost £6.3bn, ten times the current spending levels, authors added.

The report follows growing criticism this week over the administration’s failure to meet the first of its own carbon emissions targets.

Under-fire ministers, who continued to blame the missed target on extreme cold weather causing increased energy use, admitted yesterday that more cash would help, but gave no commitment to more investment.

Elizabeth Leighton, senior policy officer at WWF Scotland, said: “Without a dramatic increase in investment to make our homes more energy efficient, Scotland’s climate and fuel poverty targets are at risk.

“Indeed, rising emissions from homes was a contributory factor to the Scottish Government missing its first climate change target earlier this year.”

Figures released this summer revealed that Scotland missed the first annual target of the SNP’s Climate Change Act 2009, which sets an overall target of an 80 per cent reduction in the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Emissions in 2010, the first year to have a target under the new act, equated to 54.7 megatons of carbon dioxide – 1.1 megatons above the goal for that year.

Presenting the first Scottish greenhouse gas emissions annual target to Holyrood’s environment committee yesterday, environment minister Paul Wheelhouse said increased investment would speed up progress, but, nevertheless, he remained bullish about the future. He said: “I remain confident that we are on the right trajectory to meet the climate change targets.

“Within our own portfolio, I am confident we are doing the right thing. Ideally, if we had more money we could achieve things faster, but we are on the right path.”

Concerns coincided with new figures showing that the UK delivered the greatest reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union last year.

European Environment Agency (EEA) statistics revealed a cut in UK emissions of 36 million tonnes in 2011, or 6 per cent of its total. There were no separate figures for Scotland.

However, the EEA also warned that less than half of the European Union nations would meet their 2020 targets under current measures, although the UK was among those that were still on track.

Meanwhile, further pressure was increased on SNP policies yesterday as the Scientific Alliance Scotland disputed claims by green energy lobby group Scottish Renewables that the sector has displaced 15 per cent of the country’s total carbon emissions.