The latest annual figures showing how Scotland is progressing towards its climate goals are due to be published today. The report will reveal the country’s net greenhouse gas emissions for 2016, the most recent full year’s statistics available. It’s widely expected that we will have hit the target, with emissions not exceeding 44.933 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. So progress to date suggests we are on track to achieve statutory reductions for 2020 and beyond, even the upscaled goals outlined in the new Climate Change Bill – which will require cuts of 66 per cent by 2030, 78 per cent by 2040 and a 90 per cent by 2050. That’s not saying we can be complacent. Despite reaching the reductions set out for 2020 six years early, we are still obliged to hit that target on the due date. It would be premature to start patting ourselves on the back. We still have a long way to go and the journey will get tougher. Lots of the easy stuff has already been done. There has been a huge increase in renewable energy such as wind and solar. Coal-fired generation has also been phased out with the closure of Longannet power station– though the benefit might not be fully felt in the 2016 report, since it was operational until March of that year. Major emissions cuts must be achieved in the heating, transport and agriculture sectors, which remain challenging. Heating our homes, schools, hospitals and businesses generates half of our overall emissions, so there is plenty scope for reductions – including a move away from fossil fuels to renewable power sources, the creation of district heating networks, plus improving energy efficiency and insulation. Despite claims they want Scotland to reach net zero emissions “as soon as possible” and trumpeting about “world-leading” climate action, ministers baulked at setting a legally binding target for a 100 per cent cut by 2050, opting instead for an “achievable” prize.
Scotsman 12th June 2018 read more »