Draft climate change plan targets 66 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2032
Wind turbines - credit: Fotolia
The Scottish Government has targeted a 66 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2032, achieved through boosting low carbon heat generation, an increase in the number of low emissions cars and a push to restore peatland.
The draft third climate change plan aims to create a fully decarbonised electricity sector, based in carbon capture technology, while using low carbon heat to produce 80 per cent of domestic use.
The plan calls for at least 40 per cent of cars and vans to be ultra-low emission and for 250,000 hectares of degraded peatlands will be restored by 2032.
Introducing the document, Roseanna Cunningham wrote: “We are now seeing extraordinary momentum towards a low carbon future which, although it will not be linear or smooth, appears unstoppable.”
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Aiming to reduce transport emissions by around a third by 2032, the plan also set out proposals to trial a low emission zone.
But while opposition parties and environmental groups welcomed aspects of the targets, Scottish Labour described the SNP's “failure” to ban fracking as a “major let-down”, while the Scottish Greens said the Scottish Government’s reliance on “untested” carbon capture technology was irresponsible.
Just half of recommendations for action from the independent UK Committee on Climate Change made it into the plans.
Meanwhile questions were raised over the transport policies contained in the plans, with Transform Scotland director Colin Howden warning the draft was weak on detail.
He said: “The new plan is an improvement on the previous versions in as much as it does set out some policies for cutting transport emissions. The references to workplace parking levies are welcome, but there currently exists no legislative basis for implementing such schemes in Scotland. Overall, the plan is weak on demand management, relying excessively on technology change within the vehicle fleet.”
He added: “From its £9bn road-building programme to its current proposals for an annual £300m Air Passenger Duty tax cut for the most polluting form of transport, it is very clear that the Scottish Ministers are still also prepared to commit to policies that will increase emissions.”
Scottish Tory MSP Maurice Golden also questioned the approach to transport, saying the plans contained “no firm plans to deal with reducing transport emissions”.
He said: “While it’s welcome that we’ve made progress in reducing emissions in other sectors, the damage being caused by transport is still similar to the levels that we saw decades ago.
“To make matters worse the SNP have chosen to slash the funding going towards making our transport more efficient, in addition to underfunding the programme for improving home energy efficiency.”
Anne Gray, Senior Policy Officer (Land Use & Environment) at Scottish Land & Estates, welcomed the plans, while calling on the Scottish Government to support landowners and rural businesses in delivering change.
Scottish Labour environment spokeswoman Claudia Beamish said: “Overall I welcome today’s Draft Climate Change Plan, the document we will use to guide us to a more sustainable future.
“But the government's statement was light on detail, and it remains to be seen whether or not the SNP's plan will provide enough guidance and finance to tackle the heaviest emitting sectors.
“As transport emissions have reduced by less than 3 per cent since the 1990 baseline, there will have to be a massive step change to meet the plan’s target. This is particularly important as many of the policies fall under local authority responsibility at a time of cuts.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat energy spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP said: “Having only met our climate change targets once in five years we need a plan and a vision, backed by real financial muscle, that ensures we walk the talk on emissions reduction.
“In particular, we need top up our game in the areas of heat and transport, where progress to date has been slow or non-existent.
“This will involve a step change in the expansion of district heating as well as greater funding for and flexibility in the government’s energy efficiency programme. What it should not involve is a £250 million tax break for the aviation industry that will increase air travel and undermine any chance of meeting the government’s target of cutting transport emissions by a third.”
The Scottish Parliament will be given 60 days to scrutinise the draft, before the Scottish Government publishes final version of the plan.