Scotland urged to ‘walk the talk’ on climate change

Independent advisers at the Committee on Climate Change have issued their latest progress report.

Climate change: COP26 will be held in Glasgow next year. Pixabay
Climate change: COP26 will be held in Glasgow next year.

The Scottish Government has been told it needs to “walk the talk” on plans to tackle climate change ahead of a global environmental summit in Glasgow.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) – which provides independent advice to both the UK and Scottish Governments – said “the credibility of the UK in the COP26 presidency – and Scotland as hosts – now rests on real action at home”.

The event will be hosted in Glasgow in November next year.

The CCC said: “By the time of the COP, Scotland must implement new actions to deliver against an updated Climate Change Plan, demonstrating to the rest of the world a clear and credible commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.”

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In its latest report for the Scottish Government, the CCC noted the “world-leading net zero target for all greenhouse gases” that Holyrood has legislated for by 2045.

It stressed that meeting this target by then “is contingent on early and decisive action to strengthen policy”.

The CCC’s 2019 progress report said: “Setting a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target for 2045 represents a step-change in ambition for Scotland. This requires urgent action towards meeting it. Every sector of the economy must contribute fully.”

It will also be “extremely challenging to meet” the target of cutting emissions by 75% by 2030, the report said, adding this needs to be “backed up by steps to drive meaningful emissions reductions, immediately”.

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CCC chairman Lord Deben said: “Scotland has set an ambitious world-leading net zero target for 2045. Now Scotland needs to walk the talk.

“The new legally binding target for 2030 – a 75% reduction in emissions compared to 1990 – is extremely stretching and demands new policies that begin to work immediately.

“The spotlight is now on Scotland’s plan to deliver meaningful reductions across all sectors of the economy, including from buildings, road transport, agriculture and land use.

“Their contribution to reducing emissions is vital to Scotland’s success.”

Lord Deben said Scotland had so far “outperformed the rest of the UK in cleaning up its economy”, largely due to the switch away from coal-fired power.

But he added: “So far, we haven’t seen the same progress in other sectors.”

To help Scotland achieve its net-zero target, the report called for a climate change plan that focuses on action in the 2020s and 2030s.

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According to the CCC, a “successful plan” would aim to ensure there is no need for anyone in Scotland to buy a petrol or diesel car or van by 2032 – or earlier if possible.

There is “much more work still to be done”, particularly in the agricultural sector, the report said, noting emissions in this part of the economy have fallen by just 2% since 2008.

While Scotland met its tree-planting targets for the first time in 2018-19, by planting over 11,000 hectares of new trees, the CCC said this “must continue to rise to a minimum of 15,000 hectares by the mid-2020s and stay there if Scotland is to achieve net-zero”.

The CCC also said the UK Government needed to do more to help Scotland reach net zero by 2045 – adding actions from Westminster had so far “fallen well short” of what is needed.

“Scotland achieving its net-zero target is contingent on the rest of the UK and vice versa,” the report said.

“The UK Government must step up and match Scottish policy ambition in areas where key powers are reserved.

“Our 2019 UK Progress Report concluded that actions taken by the UK Government to date have fallen well short of those required for the net-zero target.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “This report is a massive boost to Scotland’s climate change credentials, confirming, as it does, that we are committed to world-leading targets for tackling climate change.

“We also strongly agree with the challenge the report sets for Scotland – we must walk the talk and adopt policies over the coming year that make those targets a reality.

“The global climate emergency and a Green New Deal for Scotland are at the centre of our Programme for Government.

“However, we recognise that even more will need to be done for Scotland to reach net-zero emissions by 2045.

“That is why we set our world-leading targets in statute and will be bringing forward an update to the Climate Change Plan in 2020 reflecting these new targets.”

He added: “The committee’s advice for the UK Government is also clear – they must ‘step up and match Scottish policy ambition in areas where key powers are reserved’.

“Scottish ministers have written to their UK counterparts on several occasions to call for such action.”


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