Scotland ‘leads Europe on cutting greenhouse gas emissions’

SCOTLAND is at the top of the European league table for cutting harmful greenhouse gas emissions, climate change minister Paul Wheelhouse has claimed.

Scotland is a European table-topper for cutting harmful greenhouse gas emissions, official figures have shown.

The country has a stronger record in fighting climate change than all original EU-15 countries over the past two decades – but ranks behind more recent EU members such as Bulgaria, Estonia and Lithuania.

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Environment minister Paul Wheelhouse will urge world leaders to commit to “meaningful proposals” to tackle climate change as he attends the UN Conference of the Parties in Doha with heads of state and ministers from 200 countries.

Emissions in Scotland fell by 22.8 per cent in the two decades from 1990 to 2010, the largest fall among the EU-15, according to the European Environment Agency greenhouse gas data viewer. The average fall across the newer EU states was just 14.3 per cent.

“This shows exactly what can be achieved with strong political commitment, ground breaking legislation and a comprehensive framework for action,” Mr Wheelhouse said.

“However, we cannot be complacent in our approach and are committed to doing all we can to deliver action to ensure our targets are met.

“But worldwide action is necessary and that is what I will be pressing for in Doha.”

Scotland has passed world-leading climate change legislation, with a target of a 42 per cent cut in emissions by 2020.

But last month, environmentalists protested outside Holyrood days after it emerged that the Scottish Government failed to achieve its first legally binding emissions target.

Mr Wheelhouse told MSPs last month that “two exceptional cold snaps” were the reasons that the net Scottish emissions account for 2010 was 54.7 mega tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, about 1.1 mega tonnes above official targets.

He added: “We are committed to taking strong action to deliver emissions reductions and the fact that Scotland tops the EU-15 countries for emissions reduction, ahead of Germany, Denmark and England is testament to our level of ambition and the work that has been undertaken so far.”

But many of the nations that joined the EU after 2004 have a significantly better record than Scotland over the past two decades including Lithuania (-77.9 per cent), Romania (-58 per cent) and Estonia (-45.4 per cent).

Dr Richard Dixon, director of environment charity WWF Scotland said: “Scotland has made good progress on reducing emissions over the last two decades but much of this has been because of structural changes in the economy.

“The Scottish Government needs to more actively manage emissions downwards to meet the targets over the coming decades. Reducing emissions is an opportunity to create jobs and stimulate the green economy.”

It emerged yesterday that even if the Scottish Government adopts all the measures it has proposed to cut carbon emissions, the country will still fall eight million tonnes short of the target cut mandated by the Scottish Parliament for 2027 in the Climate Change Act.

It is also feared that every annual target from 2014 onwards will be missed, according to information set out by the Scottish Government’s director of energy and climate change, David Wilson.