Scottish Government rejects calls for net-zero emission target in climate change bill

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 24 May 2018 in News

Environmental groups express “huge disappointing” in Scottish Government climate change plans

Image credit: PA

Environmental groups have expressed strong disappointment in Scottish Government climate change plans after ministers rejected calls to include a 100 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 in the climate change bill.

With the draft climate change bill expected to be published later today, ministers confirmed the plans will target a 90 per cent reduction by 2050, alongside assurances that the net-zero target will be achieved as soon as possible.

Under the draft plans, ministers will be required to keep the net-zero target date under review by seeking expert advice on the issue every five years.

But while the Environment Secretary claimed that, because the legislation will be legally binding, the 90 per cent reduction target is more ambitious than the 100 per cent reduction adopted by other countries, campaigners described the move as “hugely disappointing”.

Warning that the Scottish Government had “failed to live up to its own rhetoric on global climate change leadership”, Tom Ballantine, chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, said: “By failing to ally with the global momentum towards zero emissions, led by countries like France, Sweden and New Zealand, Scotland is missing a huge opportunity to end its contribution to climate change in a generation, attract clean investment and retain its position as a leader on the global stage.”

Under current legislation, Scotland will target a 42 per cent emission reduction by 2020 and an 80 per cent reduction by 2050. New interim targets will aim for a 56 per cent by 2020, a 66 per cent reduction by 2030, and a 78 per cent reduction by 2040.

Roseanna Cunningham said: “Our Climate Change Bill sets out our commitment to reduce emissions by 100 per cent with ambitious interim targets which strengthen Scotland’s world-leading position on climate change.

“Our 90 per cent target will be tougher even than the 100 per cent goal set by a handful of other countries, because our legislation will set more demanding, legally-binding, annual targets covering every sector of our economy.

“By 2030, we will cut emissions by two-thirds and, unlike other nations, we will not use carbon offsetting, where other countries are paid to cut emissions for us, to achieve our goal.

“The fight against climate change is a moral responsibility but Scotland’s academic and engineering expertise, coupled with our outstanding natural resources, mean it is also an economic opportunity.

“Climate change is one of the defining challenges of our age and Scotland’s international leadership means our plans must be ambitious, credible and affordable – which is exactly what the new Climate Change Bill delivers.”

But environmental groups and opposition parties expressed concern.

Ballantine said: “It’s hugely disappointing that the Scottish Government has failed to live up to its own rhetoric on global climate change leadership, by failing to set a net zero emissions target in the Climate Change Bill published today.

“The Government claims Scotland it will be one of the first countries to achieve zero emissions, but the bill does not commit to that. It sets a target of only a 90 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050. 

“By failing to ally with the global momentum towards zero emissions, led by countries like France, Sweden and New Zealand, Scotland is missing a huge opportunity to end its contribution to climate change in a generation, attract clean investment and retain its position as a leader on the global stage.

“We’re now calling on MSPs from all parties to push for stronger targets on emissions – net-zero by 2050 at the latest, 77 per cent by 2030 and the action needed to deliver on them in line with the Paris Agreement.”

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