Climate Change Bill: consultation

Consultation on a new Climate Change Bill to amend parts of the 2009 Act relating to emission reduction targets and reporting duties.

Section 4: Reviewing targets and reporting on policies and proposals

A flexible and responsive target framework

The 2009 Act allows for limited updates to annual and interim 2020 targets through secondary legislation, but does not include provision to update the 2050 target. The CCC has advised that flexibility in long-term target levels is important and has specifically recommended that it should be possible to update targets in the event of unanticipated changes in industrial emissions output.

Experience of the 2009 Act, particularly regarding revisions to the greenhouse gas inventory, shows the importance of having flexibility to respond to changing science. Furthermore, the Paris Agreement mechanisms set out 5-yearly Stocktake Cycles, with a view to increasing long-term global ambition
(see Box 6).

In light of this, it is proposed that a duty should be put on Scottish Ministers to seek advice from the CCC on a regular basis regarding the levels of the interim and 2050 targets. (This would replace the duty to seek advice from the CCC ahead of laying batches of annual targets, which will be removed if annual targets are set mechanistically - see Section 2).

It is proposed that updates to both the interim and 2050 targets should be possible through secondary legislation, subject to having due regard to a suitable set of criteria and advice on these matters from the CCC. Under the 2009 Act, the Scottish Ministers must, when setting targets, have regard to the following matters:

  • the objective of not exceeding the fair and safe Scottish emissions budget;
  • scientific knowledge about climate change;
  • technology relevant to climate change;
  • economic circumstances, in particular the likely impact of the target on -
    • the Scottish economy;
    • the competitiveness of particular sectors of the Scottish economy;
    • small and medium-sized enterprises;
    • jobs and employment opportunities;
  • fiscal circumstances, in particular the likely impact of the target on taxation, public spending and public borrowing;
  • social circumstances, in particular the likely impact of the target on those living in poorer or deprived communities;
  • the likely impact of the target on those living in remote rural communities and island communities;
  • energy policy, in particular the likely impact of the target on energy supplies, the renewable energy sector and the carbon and energy intensity of the Scottish economy;
  • environmental considerations and, in particular, the likely impact of the targets on biodiversity; and
  • European and international law and policy relating to climate change.

The Bill provides a natural opportunity to review and potentially improve these criteria and consider the extent to which they will ensure that emission reduction targets remain fully aligned with the wider ambitions of increasing sustainable economic growth through increasing competitiveness and tackling inequality.

We have proposed that all targets be set as percentage reductions from baseline levels ( Section 2), which means that the criterion in relation to the "Scottish emissions budget" becomes redundant in its current form. The important principle that the levels of Scottish targets should represent a "fair and safe" contribution to global efforts will be preserved through the criteria in relation to "scientific knowledge" and "international law", upon which regular CCC advice will continue to be received.

Question 7:

a) What are your views on allowing the interim and 2050 emission reduction targets to be updated, with due regard to advice from the CCC, through secondary legislation?

b) What do you think are the most important criteria to be considered when setting or updating emission reduction targets?

Future Climate Change Plans

The 2009 Act requires Scottish Ministers to lay before Parliament a "Report on Proposals and Policies" ( RPP) for meeting the annual targets, as soon as reasonably practicable after each batch of targets has been laid. Since the Act came into force in 2009, Scottish Ministers have published two such reports, RPP1 [12] in 2011 and RPP2 [13] in 2013.

The latest draft report on proposals and policies, the draft Climate Change Plan, was laid in Parliament in January 2017 and covers the period to 2032. The Plan will be finalised in early 2018. (The Scottish Government proposes to alter the term "Report on Proposals and Policies" to "Climate Change Plan" in the new Bill.)

The 2009 Act requires future batches of annual targets to be legislated by:

2021 (for years 2033 - 2037);
2026 (for years 2038 - 2042);
2031 (for years 2043 - 2047) and;
2036 (for years 2048 - 2050);
and climate change plans to be produced as soon as practicable afterwards.

If annual targets cease to be set through secondary legislation every five years, as proposed in Section 2, then this "trigger" for climate change plans will be removed and will need to be replaced. This presents an opportunity to consider the frequency of climate change plans, the length of time each plan covers, and the alignment of plans with the interim targets and Paris Stocktakes.

Box 6: Paris Stocktakes

In 2018, countries will come together to take stock of the collective efforts in relation to progress towards the goal set in the Paris Agreement and to inform the preparation of "Nationally Determined Contributions".

Thereafter, there will be a global stocktake every five years commencing in 2023. These stocktakes will assess progress of long-term goals, consider mitigation, adaptation, implementation and support, and be guided by equality and best available science. The aim of the global stocktakes is to further inform countries in updating and enhancing of their Nationally Determined Contributions, their actions and support for the Paris Agreement, as well as enhancing international co-operation for climate action.

Current practice is for the RPPs, or plans, to cover approximately 16 years (from the time of developing the plan to the last year that an annual target has been set for). The timeframe for plans needs to be long enough to allow for policies and proposals that have lengthy lead in times to be included, but not so long that uncertainty around future technologies and economic changes makes sensible planning difficult. Sixteen years may be an appropriate timescale with those considerations in mind. On the other hand, there could be advantages in future climate change plans being focussed on the next one or two interim targets or 2050 target.

Without making any changes to the legislation, future plans would be expected around 2022, 2027, 2032 and 2037. Paris Stocktakes are expected in 2023, 2028, 2033, 2038, and so on every five years.

It may be preferable for future plans to be produced after the Paris Stocktake Processes, rather than before. Particularly if changes to the level of the interim or end targets are advised by the CCC, ahead of or in light of the Paris Stocktakes.

The current Climate Change Act requires draft Climate Change Plans to be laid for a period of 60 days for Parliamentary consideration. Reports by the four Parliamentary Committees involved in consideration of the draft Climate Change Plan laid in Parliament in January 2017 indicated that the current 60 day period is too restrictive. The Committees recommended that the period be reviewed, with a view to removing or extending the 60 day limit. The Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee suggested that at least 120 days are allowed to ensure thorough scrutiny. To assist scrutiny of future draft Climate Change Plans, the Scottish Government proposes to extend the period for Parliamentary consideration.

The Scottish Government welcomes all views on the issues set out in this section, including any other considerations that you think should be taken into account. Throughout the consultation period the Scottish Government will hold meetings and workshops with key stakeholders to discuss the issues raised here and finalise proposals for inclusion in the Climate Change Bill.

Question 8:

a) What are your views on the frequency of future Climate Change Plans?

b) What are your views on the length of time each Climate Change Plan should cover?

c) What are your views on how development of future Climate Change Plans could be aligned with Paris Stocktake Processes?

d) How many days do you think the period for Parliamentary consideration of draft Climate Change Plans should be?

The 2009 Act requires that any excess emissions that occurred due to targets being missed must be made up through outperforming on future targets, and that Scottish Ministers must lay a report before the Scottish Parliament setting out proposals and policies to compensate in future years for the excess emissions. The CCC advise that the requirement to make up any excess emissions from missed targets should be retained.

It is proposed that the requirement to make up any excess emissions from missed targets should be retained. Given the proposed change to percentage based annual targets (see Section 2), this requirement would be implemented through:

  • The statutory annual reports on target outcomes stating the under-performance/over-performance arising from current and previous targets. These figures would be stated as amounts of emissions.
  • If there is a cumulative under-performance against targets at the time when a Climate Change Plan is developed (see question 9), that Plan would be required to set out additional policies and proposals, over and above those required to meet the future targets, to compensate for the excess emissions.

Question 9:

What are your views on the proposal that any shortfall against previous targets should be made up through subsequent Climate Change Plans?


Email: Jack Murray,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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