Scotland’s lead on climate change has been lost, warns Climate Change Committee
Scotland’s lead over the rest of the UK towards achieving net zero has now been lost, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) has warned in a damning new report.
It also said climate ambitions are “at risk” due to a lack of progress towards key milestones, with seven of 11 legal targets missed since the 2009 Climate Change Act.
The committee, which offers independent advice to governments across the UK, said there are “glaring gaps” in the Scottish Government’s climate plans.
It questioned the ability to reach the interim target of cutting emissions by 75 per cent from 1990 levels by 2030.
The Scottish Government said progress had been made but acknowledged the "challenge" of meeting that interim target.
Lord Deben, chair of the CCC, said: “In 2019, the Scottish Parliament committed the country to some of the most stretching climate goals in the world, but they are increasingly at risk without real progress towards the milestones that Scottish ministers have previously laid out.
“One year ago, I called for more clarity and transparency on Scottish climate policy and delivery. That plea remains unanswered.”
The report highlights three areas in which policy is devolved which require fresh focus.
On transport, it says Scotland has fallen behind other parts of the UK on decarbonisation, with sales of electric vehicles lower and the government being “unwilling” to consider measures like restricting aviation growth.
Plans to deliver low-carbon heating sources and improve energy efficiency of buildings are “wholly inadequate”, the report says, and it also calls on the government to provide urgent detail on decarbonising agriculture.
It also urges the Scottish and UK governments to work together on shared policy areas, adding there was “little evidence of cooperative policy planning, which is now undermining the achievement of Scotland’s more ambitious short-term goals”.
Net Zero Secretary Michael Matheson said Scotland was "already more than half way to net zero" but he accepted the next eight years will be "the most challenging part of the journey to date".
He said: "Significant steps have been taken in recent years to put in place the policy frameworks that will drive action and change on the ground... The action we are taking now will deliver significant emissions reductions in years to come.
“However, in many areas progress on reducing emissions in Scotland is dependent on decisions taken by the UK Government. They have not gone far enough, fast enough.
"The Scottish Government will continue to push the UK Government to deliver progress on areas that are currently reserved – such as the development of negative emissions technologies, energy regulation, and reviewing the way transport is taxed – as well as ensuring the journey to net zero is prioritised in four-nations discussions."
Scottish Labour has accused the government of “empty rhetoric” over tackling climate change.
Net zero spokesperson Colin Smyth said: “Scotland’s potential is being squandered by an SNP government only interested in chasing a headline and a Green party not worthy of the name.
“On the three biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions - transport, heat in buildings, and land use - the report card on the Green SNP Government from the independent Climate Change Committee is a resounding fail, fail, fail.”
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