The Climate Change (Scotland) Act passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2009 helped to establish Scotland as a world leader in tackling climate change. The commitment to reduce emissions by at least 80% by 2050 was at the high end of the evidence available at the time which stated that global emission cuts of between 50% and 85% by 2050 will be required to minimise the chances of a global temperature rise in excess of 2°C.
We have since seen sustained progress in meeting the ambitious targets set by the Act. The latest emission statistics published in June confirm achievement of Scotland's annual target for the second successive year and progress that is well on track to meet the world-leading 2020 target. Scotland continues to outperform the UK in delivering long-term reductions and, in Western Europe, only Sweden and Finland have done better. We are seeing the benefits of this progress with the low carbon and renewable energy economy supporting over 58,000 jobs in Scotland in 2015, generating over £10 billion in turnover.
Our progress is underpinned by a comprehensive package of policies and proposals to drive down emissions. Development of our third climate change plan setting a course to modernise and transform the economy over the next 15 years is ongoing. A draft of the plan was subject to a period of Parliamentary scrutiny and we are now working with stakeholders to ensure that the final Plan maintains ambition in meeting challenging goals; sets us apart as an innovator and global leader on climate issues; and is supported and owned by the people of Scotland. I anticipate publishing the final Plan in early 2018.
Scotland is not alone in making this low carbon transition. Global momentum on cutting emissions is now unstoppable and the 2015 Paris Agreement reinforces the need for more international cooperation on climate issues. We are seeing real progress in this respect, not only at national level but also at regional, state, city and local levels. The Scottish Government is collaborating with international partners and continues to build its networks globally, including our pledge to work with the State of California as part of the Under 2 Coalition which covers over a billion people and a third of the global economy.
The Paris Agreement has strengthened global climate change ambition and aims to keep global temperature rise this century well below 2°C, with efforts to limit this to 1.5°C. Meeting this aim will significantly reduce the risks and the global impacts of climate change, but it also represents a significant economic opportunity. Recent analysis by the International Finance Corporation indicates that the Paris Agreement will help open up $23 trillion worth of opportunities for climate-smart investments in emerging markets between now and 2030. There are other important benefits for Scotland from reducing emissions, including improved air quality as a result of the widespread use of low carbon vehicles and enhanced biodiversity generated by peatland restoration.
While Scotland is already a world leader, our proposals for a new Climate Change Bill reaffirm our commitment to remain at the forefront of global ambition and send a signal to the international community that Scotland is the place to do low carbon business. The strong foundations we have built through our ambitious targets and policies to date mean that strengthening our approach in response to the increased global ambition represented by the Paris Agreement does not require a fundamental shift or change of direction. The focus of our proposals is therefore on updating Scotland's framework of emission reduction targets, both to increase ambition in line with an appropriate contribution to limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C, and to improve transparency by measuring progress to targets without adjusting for the operation of the EU Emissions Trading System.
We have taken an evidence led approach and our proposals are based on the independent expert advice of the Committee on Climate Change. Our aim is to balance high ambition with credibility and our target proposals, which are at the limit of what the Committee on Climate Change consider is feasible at this time, do exactly that. These proposals are intended to provide certainty to investors, businesses and communities and to create the conditions to maximise opportunities to export our technology innovations and knowledge as other economies make their own low carbon transition.
We've been talking to stakeholders about the Committee on Climate Change advice which has helped to shape our thinking. I now welcome your views on these proposals which I believe will help in positioning Scotland at the forefront of a more resource-efficient and sustainable global economy while fulfilling our moral obligations to future generations.
Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform
Email: Jack Murray, CCBill@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House