This annual monitoring report is the second to report against the updated Climate Change Plan (CCPu) as finalised in March 2021 (see last year’s report here) under the statutory reporting requirements set out in the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019.
The 2019 Act is one of the most ambitious and comprehensive legislative frameworks on climate change in the world, increasing the ambition of Scotland’s emissions reduction targets (from the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009) in response to the global climate emergency and UN Paris Agreement, committing Scotland to a 75% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and to reaching net zero by 2045.
The 2019 Act also placed the monitoring framework for the Climate Change Plan on to a statutory footing for the first time, with sector by sector reports on progress and the inclusion of matters relevant to a just transition. Two monitoring reports were published on the 2018 Plan prior to the commencement of the 2019 Act; in 2018 and 2019. No monitoring report was produced in 2020, as this fell during the process of updating the Plan.
Scotland’s climate ambition is exemplified by the ambitious policies laid out in our landmark Climate Change Plan update, which included over 200 policies. As is highlighted in the sector reports, many of these policies and proposals have been developed since via delivery plans such as the Heat in Buildings Strategy, and the route map to achieve a 20% reduction in car kilometres by 2030.
To see what else Scotland is doing to help meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, including in terms of adaptation and international climate action, please also see the indicative Nationally Determined Contribution published in advance of COP26 in Glasgow.
The CCPu included Negative Emissions Technologies (NETs) as a sector chapter for the first time, recognising the important role that, as recently recognised by the IPCC Working Group 3 report, emissions removals will need to play in reaching net zero. The ‘learning by doing’ approach set out in the CCPu more widely was also identified as being particularly important in the case of this sector, given the considerable uncertainties around technological development and dependencies on UK Government action, particularly with regards to carbon capture and storage.
Policies included in the NETs chapter recognised these challenges and uncertainties and sought to acquire an evidence base to allow for further policy development. We have now undertaken an initial review of evidence.
The review indicates that NETs in Scotland can deliver at scale in due course but not at the pace assumed in the CCPu. This is due to various shifts in evidence since the time of the CCPu, including:
- the UK Government’s decision to not allocate the Scottish Cluster as a Track-1 cluster for delivery in the mid-2020s, impacting on when carbon storage underpinning NETs will be available, and industries’ appetite to invest in NETs technologies. The Scottish Government are still pushing the UK Government to reverse this decision;
- the availability of home grown sustainable biomass to supply large scale power bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS); and
- no public commitment to date by a commercial operator to employ a NETs model for a single large power station in Scotland. Given lead in times for development of such a facility and proposals for carbon capture and storage (CCS) deployment for the Peterhead combined cycle gas turbine power project, it is unlikely that a new NETs power facility will be developed in the 2020s.
We are now gaining further knowledge and evidence of what scale of NETs can be delivered within Scotland and to what timescale, through undertaking a NETs feasibility study. This further evidence will be worked up over 2022 and will be considered as we develop the refreshed Energy Strategy and next full Climate Change Plan. The 2023 monitoring reports on the CCPu will also provide an opportunity to consider further the evolving evidence around the role of NETs.
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