Climate plan under fire for a '˜lack of ambition'

Scotland's new Climate Change Plan sets out how targets for a 66 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions will be achieved by 2032. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Scotland’s new Climate Change Plan has been unveiled, setting out how the country will achieve a 66 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2032.

The plan is an obligation under the 2009 Climate Act and builds on a draft first set out more than a year ago.

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Key aims include a 37 per cent cut in emissions from transport, to be achieved through measures including the phasing-out of petrol and diesel vehicles and a switch to electric and hydrogen power.

Half of the country’s total energy demand, including heat for homes, must come from renewables, and the recycling rate is to be stepped up to 70 per cent.

Tree planting is to be extended to cover 21 per cent of Scotland, up from 18 per cent now.

Emissions from buildings are to be cut by 33 per cent, via improvements in insulation and energy efficiency.

But environmentalists claim the final plan is full of failings and a “missed opportunity”.

They have criticised the decision to scale back some of the original intentions put forward in early versions.

Previous ambitions included the aim for 80 per cent of Scots to be living in low-carbon homes in the next 12 years, but this has been revised downward to 35 per cent. Cuts to emissions from agriculture have also been lowered, from 12 per cent to 9 per cent.

“In areas such as reducing emissions from our homes, the government has significantly decreased ambition from its first draft,” said Tom Ballantine, chair of environmental coalition Stop Climate Chaos Scotland.

“Particularly short-sighted is the failure to put in place any credible plan to help farmers to reduce their climate impacts, despite the fact that agriculture and land use now account for almost a quarter of our emissions.”

Academics say achieving the ambitions laid out may be challenging but will also open up new opportunities.

Andy Kerr, director of the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation and professor of low carbon and climate innovation at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Decarbonising transport, heating and agriculture will require innovation and commitment to implementation that goes beyond what we’ve already seen, bringing enormous opportunities and social and economic benefits to create a clean and thriving economy.”

Scottish environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham described the measures as “both ambitious and realistic”.

“This new Climate Change Plan is designed to build on the successes we have achieved so far by paving the way for further positive, transformational change in a wide range of areas,” she said.