Dr Richard Dixon is director of Friends of the Earth Scotland – Last week brought the good news that Scotland had met its latest climate target, with real emissions of greenhouse gases 3 per cent lower than the year before. This is great progress and shows that we are firmly on track to meet our 2020 climate target of reducing emissions by 42 per cent from 1990 levels. This target and the target of 80 per cent emissions reduction by 2050, were agreed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament as the right figures to ensure Scotland made a proper contribution to the fight to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees centigrade. Crucially, in 2009 no-one knew how we would reach that 42 per cent target, and the first action plan listed policies that would just about get us there – but only if there was a very significant tightening of European rules on power stations and factories. Those changes never happened, yet here we are on track to meet or even beat the 2020 target because of the success of Scotland’s renewable energy sector as well as improvements in home insulation and how we deal with waste. This is an important lesson to take into setting new targets, as we are promised in a new climate bill due soon. The First Minster has spoken strongly several times about Scotland making its contribution to meeting the targets in the UN Paris Agreement. That means aiming for well below 2 degrees of warming and making efforts towards 1.5 degrees to protect the most vulnerable people in low-lying nations and island states. To deliver on the SNP’s promises, and to be the kind of good example we were when we agreed the 2009 Climate Act, we need to be aiming higher. That means an end to all climate emissions by 2050, and 2030 and 2040 targets that drive strong action consistent with well below 2 degrees warming as a very minimum. Tougher targets are good for us. They mean warmer, healthier homes, better transport options, less air pollution and greener agriculture. Let’s have those rewards and do our bit for the global fight on climate at the same time.
Scotsman 20th June 2017 read more »