Campaigners express disappointment with scale of ambition in climate change plan

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 2 March 2018 in News

Plan sets out how ministers intend to reduce emissions by 66 per cent by 2032

Image credit: David Anderson

Opposition parties and environmental and energy campaigners have expressed disappointment with the scale of ambition contained in the Scottish Government’s new climate change plan.

The plan, which sets out how ministers intend to reduce emissions by 66 per cent by 2032, aims to lower transport emissions by 37 per cent and emissions from Scotland’s buildings by 33 per cent by 2032.

It also contains targets for 70 per cent of all waste will be recycled by 2025 and for 50 per cent of all of Scotland’s energy needs to be delivered by renewables by 2030.

But while Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham claimed the plan was “both ambitious and realistic”, campaigners expressed disappointment, with Stop Climate Chaos branding it as “short sighted” and “a missed opportunity”.

Campaigners pointed to a lack of “credible plans” to help farmers to reduce their climate impacts, as well as a “lack of progress” on issues such as soil testing and nitrogen fertiliser use.

Meanwhile Labour MSP Claudia Beamish warned “the SNP government has failed to deliver”, while Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur described plans to decarbonise the heat sector and tackle fuel poverty as “woefully inadequate”.

With ministers due to publish the new Climate Bill before the summer, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland are calling for a target of zero emissions by 2050.

Cunningham said: “We should be proud of the fact that Scotland is already on track to meet its 2020 target to reduce carbon emissions by 42 per cent and has won international recognition for its leadership in this vital area.

“This new Climate Change Plan is designed to build on the successes we have achieved so far, by paving the way for further positive, transformational change in a wide range of areas.

“We have carefully considered the helpful and constructive feedback we received from stakeholders and the UK Committee on Climate Change to ensure that our final plan, which is designed to reduce emissions by 66 per cent by 2032, is both ambitious and realistic.”

She added: “We fully recognise that this plan will be challenging to achieve and the journey ahead will be far from straightforward.

“But we have a duty to provide leadership on this this vital issue, while ensuring that Scotland seizes the valuable economic opportunities which the transition to a low carbon economy presents.

“Across the Scottish Government, we are working hard every day to do exactly that and in the coming months we will bring forward a new Climate Change Bill which will raise the bar higher still.”

Jenny Hogan, Deputy Chief Executive at Scottish Renewables, welcomed the “overall ambition” but said she was disappointed “to see a significant drop in ambition in decarbonising the heat sector, with the majority of effort pushed back to after 2025”.

She said: “The carbon targets for both the heat and transport sectors are lower than those recommended by the Government’s independent advisors, the Committee on Climate Change.

“We need robust policies in place now to capitalise on Scotland’s world-leading renewable energy industry and to get a head start on cutting carbon in two of the toughest sectors to do so: heat and transport.”

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland chair Tom Ballantine said: “This Climate Change Plan still doesn’t deliver the detailed policies or the necessary ambition to drive a just transition to a zero carbon Scotland. The significant steps forward in transport that we welcomed in last year’s Programme for Government are undermined by steps backwards in this Plan.

“The many suggestions for improvements from MSPs and several Parliamentary committees have been largely overlooked. Those MSPs should use the upcoming Climate Change Bill as an opportunity to fix the significant shortcomings in this plan.”

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