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by Louise Wilson
16 December 2020
Scottish Government publishes route map to net zero by 2045


Scottish Government publishes route map to net zero by 2045

The Scottish Government has set out its plans to reach net-zero emissions by 2045 in its updated climate change plan.

It reflects the more ambitious targets backed by the Scottish Parliament in the Climate Change Act 2019, which also set an interim target to reduce emissions by 75 per cent from 1990 baseline levels by 2030.

The update was originally due to be published in April 2020 but was delayed by coronavirus.

The new plan has brought forward the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars to 2030, in line with UK plans, and commits to reducing car travel overall.

Other transport commitments include £120m to accelerate the decarbonisation of the bus fleet, £50m for ‘active freeways’, which will create sustainable transport links between urban areas, and decarbonisation of flights by 2040.

The Scottish Government has committed £180m to an emergency energy technologies fund that will look to develop hydrogen and carbon capture storage technology.

The tree planting target has also been boosted to 18,000 hectares each year from 2024, in part supported by a previously announced £500m to increase biodiversity. This money will also be used to restore peatlands.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “These policies and proposals set us on a pathway to a just transition to net zero.

“This journey will not be easy. We know there are factors we can’t control, including technological advances and the limits of devolved power.

“We will need to be innovative, to learn as we are going and to utilise new and exciting technologies and ideas, seizing on the multiple benefits our journey to net zero presents.

“We also need the UK Government to match not just our ambition but our action.”

But the Scottish Greens have warned the plan does not go far enough.

Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell said it failed to “commit to the kind of transition from fossil fuels” that is needed.

On transport, Ruskell said: “The Scottish Government have a dismal record at delivering anything other than traffic growth.

“If the government is serious about alternatives to private car use then that needs to be reflected in the Scottish budget, redirecting the billions of pounds currently being spent on road expansion to green transport infrastructure.”

And sustainable transport charity Transform Scotland has expressed concern about a lack of ambition when it comes to rail.

Director Colin Howden said: “The new climate plan remains insufficiently ambitious on rail decarbonisation.

“Despite a reference to 2032 in the route map, the target date remains 2035. We have been calling for this programme of electrification to be brought forward to 2030.

“The majority of Scotland’s diesel trains will be retired by 2030, so investment is needed in the infrastructure to enable electric trains.”

Elsewhere, WWF Scotland said the plan “paints a good picture” of what needs to be delivered within the next ten years, but “falls short of delivering some of the big decisions”.

In particular, it lamented a lack of detail on farming and energy efficiency. Fabrice Leveque, head of policy, said: “Opportunities to advance important policies in key emitting sectors have been missed.

“Detail on the actions required by the farming sector is lacking, and the earlier date of 2035 to bring all homes to a good standard of energy efficiency is still five years later than we need to help that industry grow today.

“This is not the pace of action required by the climate emergency.”

The plan will now be scrutinised in the Scottish Parliament by four separate committees. The environment, rural economy, local government and energy committees are all seeking views from stakeholders, with evidence to be taken in January and February.

Tory MSP Liz Smith said: “It is essential that we see strong co-operation between the UK and Scottish governments as we all play our part in striving to tackle climate change in the years ahead.”

Labour MSP Claudia Beamish said: “The next decade is crucial in setting us firmly on the path to net-zero and protecting the most disadvantaged from climate change’s cruellest effects. The bottom line is that people cannot afford for the Scottish Government to get this wrong.”

Scottish Lib Dem environment spokesperson Molly Nolan said: “There is no time for any more distraction or free passes. Our planet and wildlife are on the brink of irreparable damage.”

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