‘Urgent action needed’ to meet climate change goals

MSPs say the Scottish Government should set out a timescale for retiring new hybrid vehicles.

‘Urgent action needed’ to meet climate change goals Getty Images
Climate change: Urgent action needed.

Urgent action is needed to ensure Scotland’s climate change targets are met, several committees of MSPs have said, including a timescale for phasing out new hybrid cars.

In addition to phasing out the need for new diesel and petrol cars by 2030, the MSPs say the Scottish Government should set out a timescale for retiring new hybrid vehicles as drivers move to all-electric transport.

Four Holyrood committees published their recommendations for meeting emissions targets on Thursday.

In December, the Scottish Government set out its updated climate change plan, including a target to reduce the distance travelled in car journeys by 20% by 2030.

It urged a shift towards electric cars, but the Connectivity Committee said hybrid cars should be included in the phase-out as well as traditional petrol and diesel vehicles.

MSPs on the committee also voiced concerns about constraints on electric vehicle charging by the capacity of the electricity grid and said urgent improvements were needed.

Other committees called for more clarity on how targets would be met and the methods for measuring progress.

The Local Government Committee said the implementation of zero-emission heating should be brought forward.

Their recommendations come ahead of the Cop26 conference in Glasgow later this year, described as the most important gathering on climate change since the Paris Agreement in 2015.

Environment Committee convenor Gillian Martin said: “Scotland has committed to ambitious climate change targets and it is critical that for this ambition to be realised, the Scottish Government acts with the utmost urgency upon the recommendations we have made, across all four committees, today.

“The pandemic has shown that we can act boldly and at pace in the face of a crisis.

“Climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity today and our response to it must reflect that.”

The Economy Committee also published its recommendations.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scotland has the most ambitious climate legislation in the world and our Climate Change Plan update sets out the policies that will be introduced, boosted or accelerated to help us meet them and to support our green recovery from the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

“The update sets us on a pathway to deliver our targets up to 2032 and contribute to a just transition to net zero, but we have been clear that this journey will not be easy.

“We know there are factors we can’t control, including technological advances and the limits of devolved power. We will need to be innovative, to learn as we go and utilise new and exciting technologies. We also need the UK Government to act in key reserved areas like decarbonising the gas grid and reforming transmission charges.

“The update to the Climate Change Plan represents an important step in this journey and sets the direction for other upcoming strategies, but it is by no means the end of the story. We will continue to develop our approach as we learn by doing and listen to expert advice – including that to come shortly from the Just Transition Commission.

“We are grateful to the committees for their engagement and scrutiny and will consider their recommendations on the updated plan as we move to the implementation phase.”