Climate change: UK's 49 per cent cut in emissions gives reason to hope – Scotsman comment

38 days to Cop26: Climate change can sometimes seem like an insurmountable problem.

Carbon emission from transport have remained stubbornly high but electric vehicles are changing that (Picture: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images)

Given how reliant the world still is on fossil fuels, it may seem unlikely that we will be able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions quickly enough to avoid global warming going beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius, the point at which scientists believe our situation will start to become particularly dangerous.

However, Scotland and the UK as a whole may provide solace to those contemplating despair.

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For, between 1990 and 2020, estimated UK emissions fell by 49 per cent, excluding the British share of emissions from international aviation and shipping and those produced by the manufacture of goods overseas, then imported.

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Half the total reduction came from the energy supply sector, as gas and renewables replaced coal, but significant changes have been made in other sectors too. Different methods of waste management resulted in a 71 per cent reduction in emissions, while business and homes produced 32 and 14 per cent less respectively.

The one major sector where they have remained stubbornly high is transport, but the increasing use of electric vehicles should start to have an impact soon.

Global emissions are still rising, but the UK is demonstrating that dramatic cuts can be achieved while growing the economy at the same time.

Sooner or later, the rest of the world is going to have to follow the same path. As we have said before, that represents a significant opportunity for all the businesses being created by the new Industrial Revolution in countries like the UK. And with its wealth of wind, wave and tidal energy, Scotland is well placed to take advantage.

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