Scotland misses climate change targets again

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​Greenhouse gas emissions rose in Scotland as the government missed its target for the third-year-in-a-row

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11th June 2014 by Paul Cardwell 0 Comments

The Scottish Government has launched a taskforce to tackle climate change after greenhouse gas emissions rose and the country missed its target for the third year in a row.

The latest failure calls into question Scotland’s ability to reach its ambitious target of reducing emissions by 42%, from 1990 levels, by 2020.

The task is in fact even harder than parliament and society realised in 2009

Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2012 were estimated at 55.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e). Higher than the 2011 figure of 55.4 MtCO2e.

Scotland’s target set by the Climate Change (Scotland) Act for 2012 was 53.2 MtCO2e.

To meet its 2013 target, emissions will have to be reduced by over 13%.

Paul Wheelhouse, minister for environment and climate change, blamed the increase on changes to the method for calculating emissions in 2009 which altered Scotland’s output from 52.9 MtCO2 to the increased figure.

He said: "With a target of 42% by 2020 we are ahead of the UK at 34% and well ahead of the EU at 20%.

“Scotland chose to have stretching targets because we were aware of the scale of the challenge of climate change. And we should be proud of the efforts that have been made across society since the 2009 Climate Change Act.

Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions calculated in million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e)
1990 – 75.5 MtCO2e
2011– 55.4 MtCO2e
2012 – 55.7 MtCO2e
2020 (target) – 40.7 MtCO2e

"However, since then we have also improved the method for calculating our greenhouse gas emissions. That was the right thing to do, but it now shows that the task is in fact even harder than parliament and society realised in 2009.”

Wheelhouse said a government sub-committee consisting of the deputy first minister, two other cabinet secretaries and a range of government ministers will be formed to look at ways to reverse the current trend.

A £5 million fund has been made available for energy efficiency upgrades for rural areas such as Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles and a further £15m for cycling, walking, electric vehicle initiatives.

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, a coalition of environment groups, said it has been a difficult start to the implementation of the Climate Change Act but it remains convinced the government is serious about tackling the issue.

Spokesperson Gina Hanrahan said: “These are important first steps and we will need to build on them to realise the full potential of the Climate Change Act.

 “We’re encouraged that the Scottish Government has set up a cabinet sub-committee on climate change. 

“This will help embed climate change as a core priority across all government departments and provide a regular focus on climate change for our country’s key decision-makers.”