Scottish Parliament committees question ambition of draft climate change plans

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 10 March 2017 in News

Draft climate change plan sets out the Government’s emission reduction strategy over the next 15 years

Four Scottish Parliament committees have responded to the Scottish Government’s climate change plans, with concerns ranging from weak emissions targets in the transport sector to a lack of detail in how reductions can be made in agriculture.

The draft climate change plan sets out the Government’s emission reduction strategy over the next 15 years, targeting a 66 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2032.

But with transport accounting for 28 per cent of harmful emissions, the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee questioned why targets for the sector were weaker than in other areas.


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The Environment Committee report also calls on the Scottish Government to create a “Plan B” in case its assumptions on how carbon capture and storage could help emission reduction prove unrealistic, while recommending ministers provide more detail on emissions reductions across all sectors.

Meanwhile the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee reported concerns that targets for a six per cent reduction in heat demand from Scotland’s homes by 2032 could be viewed as “business as usual”, with MSPs recommending that the Scottish Government considers more ambitious targets.

Releasing the report, Environment Committee convener Graeme Dey said: “In order for Scotland to truly be a world leader, the Scottish Government needs to ensure all sectors are equally challenged in creating a climate-friendly, low-carbon Scotland.”

In its response the Rural Affairs and Connectivity Committee recommended that greater consideration should be given to policies that will encourage a shift away from private cars.

It also warned that “many stakeholders have said that the draft Climate Change Plan for the agriculture sector is not ambitious enough and that some proposals lack detail”.

The committee said the action “should be specific, clear and transparent in the final plan”.

Meanwhile the Local Government and Communities Committee responded to request more detail on how the Scottish Government intends to drive behaviour change in communities where climate change is a lower priority, along with more on how the public sector can contribute to the ambitious target for the services sector.

Describing the plan as “light on the contribution that communities and the community empowerment agenda can play in stopping climate change”, the committee also warned it was “constrained” in its scrutiny in relation to housing because many of the proposals and policies associated with the Scottish Energy Efficiency Programme have not yet been finalised.

The Economy Committee echoed concerns over the development of carbon capture and storage technology, warning that basing plans on an “as yet unproven technology” meant consideration should be given to other options.

Graeme Dey, Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee Convener, said: “Scotland has ambitious climate change targets and the Scottish Parliament wants to make sure that plans to reduce emissions are as robust and achievable as possible.

“Our Committee feels that it is crucial for all of Scotland’s sectors to play their part in reducing emissions. Specifically transport and agriculture – which are the biggest contributors in terms of creating harmful carbon emissions – must, in the opinion of the committee, be required to make a greater contribution in tackling climate change.

“In order for Scotland to truly be a world leader, the Scottish Government needs to ensure all sectors are equally challenged in creating a climate-friendly, low-carbon Scotland.”

In its report the Economy Committee backed plans to move towards low-carbon heat supply, while recognising that transforming heating supply from predominantly gas to low-carbon sources will require significant change.

The draft plans have come under fire from environmental groups including WWF Scotland, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and RSPB Scotland, which used submissions to the Environment Committee to question the ambition of proposals to reduce emissions in agriculture, while transport group Transform Scotland said the draft proposals for promoting walking, cycling and bus use were “weak”.

The groups welcomed plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 66 per cent by 2032.

But the Scottish Wildlife Trust said it was concerned the targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction in agriculture sector seemed to ignore the recommendations from the UK Climate Change Committee, while warning they were the lowest reduction goals set for any of the sectors covered by the plan.

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