Scotland could achieve net-zero emissions by 2045, says CCC
Scotland could achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, according to a new report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).
Nicola Sturgeon has stated her intention to follow the CCC’s recommendations, declaring a state of ‘climate emergency’ at her party’s conference and telling delegates: “If that advice says we can go further or go faster, we will do so.”
The Scottish Government then confirmed amendments have been lodged to the Climate Change Bill to set a legally binding target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the latest with Scotland becoming carbon neutral by 2040.
The Scottish Government’s climate change bill previously targetted a 90 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050, but the CCC advice calls on it to go further, urging ministers to target zero emissions by 2045, alongside interim targets for a 70 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 and a 90 per cent reduction by 2040, relative to 1990 levels. Scottish emissions were 49 per cent below 1990 in 2016.
The CCC said its recommendations are achievable with known technologies, alongside improvements in people’s lives, and at an affordable overall cost, with new targets covering all Scottish emissions, including from international aviation and shipping. It said the goal should be to deliver them entirely through domestic effort in Scotland.
The recommended net-zero date for Scotland is earlier than for the UK overall, where the CCC has recommended a net-zero target for 2050.
Both targets require the same set of actions, but the CCC said Scotland is able to reach net-zero faster because of its potential to plant trees, and through use of carbon capture and storage technology.
Releasing its new report, the committee said the updated target would “put Scotland at the forefront of global efforts to meet the ambition of the Paris Agreement, consistent with limiting the rise in average global temperatures to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels”.
But the CCC warned: “Policies will have to ramp up significantly for a ‘net-zero’ emissions target to be credible, given that most sectors of the economy will need to cut their emissions to zero by 2045.
“The Committee’s conclusion that Scotland can achieve a net-zero GHG target by 2045 and at acceptable cost is entirely contingent on the introduction without delay of clear, stable and well-designed policies across the emitting sectors of the economy.
“New policies are needed at both the devolved and reserved (UK) level – Scotland cannot deliver net-zero emissions by 2045 with devolved policy alone.”
Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “There is a global climate emergency and people across Scotland have been calling, rightly, for more ambition to tackle it and safeguard our planet for future generations. Having received independent, expert advice that even higher targets are now possible, and given the urgency required on this issue, I have acted immediately to set a target for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for 2045 which will see Scotland become carbon neutral by 2040.
“I have been consistently clear that our targets must be ambitious, credible and responsible. We must take an evidence-based approach and balance our climate, economic and social responsibilities. We have already halved greenhouse gas emissions from Scotland while growing the economy, so we know we can do it. I am committed to meeting the most ambitious targets possible, and doing so while continuing to build an inclusive and fair economy."
Mike Robinson, board member of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, welcomed the Scottish Government amendment to the bill.
He said: “Enshrining this commitment in law puts Scotland amongst the leading group of nations in the world in terms of ambition on climate change, but should now be followed by accelerated immediate action across the board.
“Rapidly growing public concern about climate change is sending a strong message to all politicians that rhetoric alone isn’t enough and has to be matched with swift and decisive action. It’s now up to MSPs to show they are listening to public concern by strengthening the Climate Bill to urgently ramp up policy action now and over the next decade.
“Tackling climate change is our moral obligation, but this report shows it is also possible and affordable. We know we can build on early progress to deliver. It means huge benefits such as warmer homes, cleaner air, better health, skilled jobs and a flourishing countryside and can be done in fair way that enhances the lives of workers and communities across Scotland.”