Holyrood’s draft climate change bill in hot water

The UK has climate targets to meet. Photograph: Jane Barlow
The UK has climate targets to meet. Photograph: Jane Barlow
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The Scottish Government’s draft climate change bill will not be effective enough for Scotland to meet its obligations under the 2016 Paris Agreement, a study has shown.

An analysis of what constitutes “Scotland’s fair share of greenhouse gas emissions” under the international agreement has been carried out by climate scientists from the Tyndall Centre at the University of Manchester and Sweden’s Uppsala University.

The Scottish Government’s new bill, set to be debated at Holyrood this autumn, proposes a 90 per cent reduction of all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 compared to 1990. Their advisers, the UK Committee on Climate Change, claim this target “is at the limits of feasibility”.

However, the new report shows that Scotland must aim for 102 per cent reductions by 2050 and at least 10 per cent higher than the bill’s 2030 targets in order to play its agreed role in keeping global temperature rises below 2 degrees Celsius. The report’s suggested targets are even higher than those called for by campaigners.

The scientists calculated Scotland’s share of the “global carbon budget” at only 300 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, which Scotland would “exceed in under 10 years at current CO2 levels”. The report advises a “rapid” shift from oil and gas to renewables and for carbon dioxide mitigations to be increased by “at least 10 per cent each year” from 2018.

“This report clearly shows that a 90 per cent target for 2050 is well short of what the Paris Agreement requires of Scotland,” said Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland (FoES), which commissioned the report alongside umbrella group, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS).

Scotland has led the way in the global effort to minimise the damage of climate change, with the ambitious Climate Change Act in 2009 and by transitioning its electricity sector from fossil fuels to renewables. In June, Scotland reached its annual climate change target for the third year in a row outperforming the UK as a whole.

The new bill goes even further than the 2009 Act. However, it came under fire from some on its release in May as being “hugely disappointing”. Campaigners believe that by 2050 Scotland should see a 100 per cent reduction in all greenhouse gases.