Urgent change needed as Scotland misses climate target

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Figures show greenhouse gas emissions rose by 1.5% between 2017 and 2018. 

16th June 2020 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

Campaigners are demanding urgent action on climate change after official figures showed Scotland has missed a key emissions target.

The figures, published this week by the Scottish Government, revealed that the country’s greenhouse gas emissions increased by 1.5% between 2017 and 2018, driven by an increase in fossil fuel use.

Transport remains the largest single source of emissions, while household emissions also increased by 3.4% over this period.  

The figures show that, while emissions have dropped by 50% since 1990, the Scottish Government’s target of a 54% reduction has been missed.

Jess Cowell, from Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS), said: “It is incredibly worrying to see a 1.5% rise in Scotland’s annual emissions compared to 2017, and the Scottish Government missing its 2018 target of reducing emissions by 54% since 1990. If the Government is going to meet the crucial target of a 75% reduction in emissions by 2030 we need to see action to reduce emissions showing up in significant declines in these figures.

“The burning of fossil fuels is the key driver of the climate crisis; the government must commit to delivering a decisive just transition that ends our economic dependence on fossil fuels whilst protecting employment and securing social benefits for the communities who will be impacted by industrial change.”

SCCS is calling for sweeping changes in the transport sector to reduce emissions, citing the government’s commitment to spending £749m on roads in 2021/21 as an example of “high-carbon, expensive infrastructure”. The campaign group wants to see more investment in projects that enable walking, safe cycling networks and accessible public transport routes that will contribute to reductions in air pollution.

Ms Cowell added: “After announcing a climate emergency and with the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, being held in Glasgow next November, it is crucial that the Scottish Government show leadership and place ambitious climate action at the centre of a just and green economic recovery from the devastating effects of Covid-19 felt across society.”

Scottish Green environment spokesperson Mark Ruskell said: “This is what happens when politicians congratulate themselves over targets but won’t commit to serious action to meet them. This is a climate emergency, and instead of cutting emissions Scotland continues to hurtle towards climate breakdown.

“The sharp rise in energy is partly due to the closure of Hunterston nuclear power station being replaced by fossil fuels. This shows why we can’t rely on expensive and unreliable nuclear power and a new generation of gas power stations, instead we need a step change in investment in Scotland’s renewable energy generation, storage and grid infrastructure to meet our targets and create green jobs.

“Transport remains the biggest contributor to Scotland’s poor record. It’s now indisputable that the Scottish Government’s agenda of massive road investment at the expense of public transport, cycling and walking has failed.

"The Scottish Greens are calling for a transformative shift in spending priorities on transport, we can’t afford to lock-in high carbon transport choices for generations to come. The Covid crisis has encouraged people to take up walking and cycling. That opportunity to invest in that infrastructure is now, not after our roads become choked with traffic again.”

Following the publication of the figures, environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham told MSPs that targets were set to provide “an extremely stretching pathway” to net-zero, which “will inevitably face challenges”.

She added: “Today’s statistics do highlight one such setback, with changes to the national energy mix and freezing temperatures from the Beast from the East in the early months of 2018 contributing to a rise in emissions from energy supply and heating used for buildings.

“We remain absolutely committed to ending Scotland’s emissions contribution by 2045, with a 75% reduction being achieved by 2030.”