Stronger targets on actions to mitigate climate change, and more effective working of the law to monitor progress, are the subject of a new Scottish Government consultation ahead of a further proposed Climate Change Bill.
Under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 greenhouse gas emissions targets include a reduction of 80% by 2050. Ministers now propose to increase the cut to 90% emissions reduction, and making provisions for a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target to be set when a credible and costed pathway can be demonstrated. The 2020 interim target would be increased from 42% to 56%, and additional interim targets set at 66% for 2030 and 78% for 2040.
A number of technical amendments designed to improve the transparency of the targets and functioning of the Act are also being considered. "Adjusted emissions", which take into account the operation of the EU Emissions Trading System, have proved difficult to understand and will be replaced by actual emissions. This will not change how the scheme operates in practice for power generation and energy intensive industries. The new bill will also reaffirm the Government’s commitment to increasing sustainable economic growth.
Writing in the foreword, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham claims that the latest emission statistics published in June confirm that Scotland is well on track to meet its 2020 target, continues to outperform the UK in delivering long-term reductions and in western Europe only Sweden and Finland have done better. The low carbon and renewable energy economy supported over 58,000 jobs in Scotland in 2015, generating over £10bn in turnover.
She adds: "The focus of our proposals is on updating Scotland’s framework of emission reduction targets, both to increase ambition in line with an appropriate contribution to limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C, and to improve transparency by measuring progress to targets without adjusting for the operation of the EU Emissions Trading System.
"We have taken an evidence led approach and our proposals are based on the independent expert advice of the Committee on Climate Change. Our aim is to balance high ambition with credibility and our target proposals, which are at the limit of what the Committee on Climate Change consider is feasible at this time, do exactly that. These proposals are intended to provide certainty to investors, businesses and communities and to create the conditions to maximise opportunities to export our technology innovations and knowledge as other economies make their own low carbon transition."
Click here to access the consultation. The deadline for responses is 22 September 2017.