‘Critical weaknesses’ in Scotland’s climate goals

THERE are “critical weaknesses” in Scotland’s efforts to meet its world-leading climate change targets, a major report today warns.
Scotland is failing to make consistent progress towards low-carbon energy. Picture: Getty/iStockphotoScotland is failing to make consistent progress towards low-carbon energy. Picture: Getty/iStockphoto
Scotland is failing to make consistent progress towards low-carbon energy. Picture: Getty/iStockphoto

The current approach will not achieve change at the “scale and speed needed”, according to the “Scotland’s Way Ahead” report, commissioned by the Low Carbon Infrastructure taskforce.

They called for a national infrastructure plan to meet the landmark legal targets of cutting greenhouse emissions by 42 per cent by the end of the decade and 80 per cent by 2050.

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The Scottish Government has failed to meet its interim targets for the past four years.

The taskforce includes figures from engineering, finance, construction, academia, the public sector, development and environmental groups and was chaired by Sara Thiam, a director of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

She said: “As Scotland prepares to spend billions of pounds over the coming decades to upgrade our ageing infrastructure, it’s essential we invest wisely for the future, building infrastructure that improves our economy, environment and quality of life for the people of Scotland in the 21st century and beyond.”

The burning of fossil fuels such as petrol and gas is widely seen as a central factor in global warming because it releases large volumes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that contribute to a “greenhouse” effect.

The report said Scotland is not showing “strong and consistent progress” across the range of sectors which will be pivotal in the transition to a low carbon economy.

About 52 per cent of Scotland’s infrastructure “pipeline” is already allocated to low carbon schemes but the report says this should be at least 20 per cent higher. “This requires a fundamental shift to re-orient all investment decisions towards a low carbon future,” it said.

“In its current form Scottish infrastructure planning is failing to support ambitious progress on a number of critical low carbon priorities.”

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Areas such as water, digital technology, health, schools, culture and heritage are among those which have been “bypassed” in the current plans.

Dr Sam Gardner, head of policy at WWF Scotland, said: “Securing the benefits of a low carbon Scotland will mean shifting the focus from projects that lock in high carbon emissions to the essential fabric of a low carbon economy such as energy efficiency, district heating and sustainable transport.”

Ross Martin, of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, said: “We recognise the importance of infrastructure in supporting our drive for higher productivity, greater levels of innovation and a stronger presence in international markets – the three key economic challenges of our time.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Establishing Scotland as a low carbon place is already a central theme of Scotland’s National Planning Framework. We are building on the success of our approach to renewable energy.”