How the SNP Government will get Scotland’s stuttering climate progress back on track

The SNP will publish legislation to redraw climate targets and plot a new route to transforming Scotland into a net zero economy by 2045.

SNP net zero aecretary Mairi McAllan has confirmed her Government’s redrawn climate targets and net zero strategy will be published when MSPs return from summer recess – as she issued a warning over the “magnitude” of the progress needed to get progress back on track.

Ms McAllan was responding after new statistics showed Scotland missed its annual target for greenhouse gas emissions reductions for 2022, having cut pollution by 50.1 per cent since the 1990 baseline against a 53.8 per cent target.

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SNP Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan (Picture by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)SNP Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan (Picture by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
SNP Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan (Picture by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Scotland has now missed nine out of 13 annual targets, with the latest statistics showing emissions in domestic transport and international aviation and shipping have increased.

The data shows a large reduction in emissions in the buildings sector, put down to “elevated fuel prices and relatively mild temperatures at the start of 2022”. There were also “more modest reductions” in agricultural and industrial emissions.

But those reductions “were almost entirely offset by increases in emissions in all other sectors”. As well as transport, land use and forestry, electricity supply, fuel supply and even waste emissions all increased from 2021 to 2022.

Following a damning assessment from the Climate Change Committee of the SNP Government’s legal target to cut emissions by 75 per cent by 2030, Ms McAllan announced she would scrap the target, and the annual targets, and replace them with five-year carbon budgets.

Speaking at Holyrood on Wednesday, Ms McAllan said those targets, no matter how unrealistic they were, “emphasised the importance of the journey” and have “helped to accelerate action in the meantime”.

But she warned the 2045 net zero target would be “jeopardised” by “committing to a pathway that is not feasible”, suggesting the delayed climate change plan could not be drawn up while the 2030 legal target remained.

She confirmed her revised legislation that will scrap the annual targets and the 2030 target would be published when MSPs return after the summer recess, along with her Government’s updated climate change plan that will plot a new route to ending Scotland’s contribution to the climate crisis by 2045.

Ms McAllan said: “We are working with parliamentary authorities to make sure the Bill is introduced as soon as possible after recess and have begun engaging with the convener of the net zero committee to support his committee’s scrutiny of the Bill. Thereafter we will work towards our next climate change plan … on a revised pathway to 2045 for Scotland.”

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The net zero secretary, who will be temporarily replaced in her role by junior climate minister Gillian Martin when she goes on maternity leave next month, said she hopes an incoming Labour UK government will be more receptive over tackling the climate crisis, with many levers reserved to Westminster.

She said: “We must guard against underplaying the magnitude of what’s actually required. Regrettably, in political discourse, some voices underplay the necessity of tackling climate change whilst others will underplay the complexity of doing so.

“I hope that the new government at Westminster will show greater commitment to climate change.”

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