Scotland’s progress on carbon-cutting targets has largely stalled, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) has concluded.
In an assessment published today, the CCC said Scotland’s early lead over the rest of the UK in decarbonisation had been lost.
It said the Scottish government has no clear delivery plan or coherent explanation for how its policies would achieve bold ambitions on emissions reduction.
Lord Deben, chairman 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 CCC said Scottish emissions fell by 12% between 2019 and 2020, reaching half 1990 levels for the first time.
But it said there were now “glaring gaps” in the Scottish government’s climate plan and particular concerns about whether Scotland could meet its target of cutting emissions by 75% by 2030.
The 2020 fall in emissions was only temporary, largely because of Covid-19 travel restrictions, the CCC said. Emissions were expected to rebound in 2021.
Since the Scottish Climate Change Act became law in 2009, the Scottish government had failed to achieve seven of the 11 legal targets, the CCC said.
It said there was no evidence of sufficient action to meet the Scottish Parliament’s ambition.
The CCC assessment said plans to decarbonise transport in Scotland were falling behind other parts of the UK.
Sales of electric cars were now behind those of England, despite Scotland’s greater ambition to decarbonise transport.
The Scottish Government has so far been unwilling to consider measures to recover the shortfall, such as restrictions on aviation growth, the CCC said.
On buildings, the CCC said policies were still inadequate to deliver the scale of low-carbon heat and energy efficiency improvements needed.
A low carbon agriculture policies are also needed, the CCC said. The key restoration of peatland was half the rate of Scotland’s target of 20,000ha a year. This, in turn, fell short of the CCC recommendation of 45,000ha a year.
The CCC recommended closer cooperation with the UK government, particularly on industrial decarbonisation.
Within Scotland, better collaboration was needed between the Scottish government and local authorities, particularly on net zero goals.
Friends of the Earth Scotland described the CCC assessment as a “scathing judgement” on the Scottish government’s progress.
The organisation’s head of campaigns, Mary Church, said:
“With the impacts of climate breakdown wreaking havoc the world over at only 1°C warming this is literally a matter of life or death. The Scottish Government must urgently scale up its plans to cut climate pollution within the next decade.
“Fossil fuels are the key driver of the climate crisis so we urgently need to phase out oil and gas this decade through a just transition to a renewable-powered economy with decent green jobs and affordable energy for all.
“The Scottish Government must abandon the dangerous fantasy that techno-fixes like carbon capture and storage are going to save the day and start focusing on the real solutions to the climate crisis.
“That means investing in public transport and improving our public spaces to take cars off the road, rolling out mass energy efficiency schemes and renewable heat, all of which will have the added benefit of tackling the cost of living crisis as well as cutting emissions.”