Scotland abandons 2030 climate target to focus on 2045

  • Market: Emissions
  • 18/04/24

The Scottish government is abandoning its 2030 target to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions after the UK's Climate Change Committee (CCC) said last month Scotland would not be able to meet it, but reiterated "unwavering commitment" to its 2045 net zero goal.

Scotland had an ambitious interim target to reduce GHG emissions by 75pc by 2030 from a 1990 baseline and its legally binding 2045 net zero goal date is ahead of the rest of the UK.

The CCC said in March that the nation was unlikely to meet its 2030 climate goals as "continued delays" in plans and policies mean the required actions to hit targets are now "beyond what is credible". And today, Scotland's cabinet secretary for net zero Mairi McAllan said that the government "accepts the CCC's recent re-articulations" that the "2030 target is out of reach". "We must now act to chart a course to 2045 at a pace and scale that is feasible, fair and just." She said that the government will bring forward "expediting legislation" to remove the 2030 target, calling it "a minor legislative change".

McAllan said climate actions are backtracking at the UK level and blamed "severe budget restrictions" by the UK government and the "constrains of devolution".

Scotland is a member nation of the UK, and the Scottish parliament has some devolved powers. But energy, for example, remains a reserved matter in the UK, and decisions — including licensing, regulation and policy — are taken by the UK parliament.

She said that Scotland was trying to achieve societal and economic transformation with "one hand tied behind our back".

Scotland's first minister Humza Yousaf said there was no intention to "roll back" on the target to achieve net zero emissions by 2045, saying that Scotland has made faster progress than any other nation in the UK during 2019-21, but that 2030 was a "stretched" target.

McAllan said annual reporting on progress will be kept but by introducing a target approach based on "five-yearly carbon budgets" — a cap on the amount of GHG emitted over a five-year period — in a similar way to the rest of the UK.

Scotland missed its annual emissions-reduction target in 2021, for the eighth time in the last 12 years.

The CCC's interim chair Piers Forster said today that the removal of the 2030 target was "deeply disappointing". "We are reassured that the net zero target remains in place but interim targets and plans to deliver against them are what makes any net zero commitment credible," he said.

McAllan announced a series of measures that the government wants to introduce, including reducing methane emissions in farming, a Scotland-wide integrated transport ticketing system, and the quadrupling of electric car charging points. But it is unclear what will happen to Scotland's delayed climate strategy, which was due at the end of 2023.


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