- 19 Jan 2017
In 2009, the Scottish Parliament unanimously passed the most ambitious climate change legislation anywhere in the world.
Seven years on, I am laying before this Parliament the Scottish Government's third report on proposals and policies for meeting the statutory emissions reductions targets from 2017 to 2032.
This draft Climate Change Plan has been prepared in accordance with sections 35 and 36 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009.
In the last seven years, much has changed, not least the climate.
The latest analysis by the European Commission's Copernicus earth observation system confirms that 2016 was the warmest year on record. Global temperatures reached a peak in February 2016 around 1.5°C higher than at the start of the industrial revolution.
These temperature increases and their impacts vary enormously across the globe. Many of the people who have done the least to contribute to the problem have limited capacity to adapt. Our work through the Climate Justice Fund, supporting some of Africa's poorest climate-vulnerable communities, has emphasised the urgent practical need for global solutions. We saw a major step in the right direction in Paris in December 2015.
The UN Paris Agreement, the first global legally binding agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions, came into force on 4 November, significantly earlier than anticipated by the international community. We are now seeing extraordinary momentum towards a low carbon future – a future that is being shaped right here in Scotland.
Scotland has long standing links to the climate change agenda. It was Professor Joseph Black, at Edinburgh University in the 1700s, who discovered carbon dioxide. He called it 'fixed air'.
On the other hand, James Watt's work on the steam engine in the late 1700s was instrumental in initiating the industrial revolution. That revolution brought radical changes to our economy and society and triggered the mass burning of fossil fuels. Cue the beginning of anthropomorphic climate change.
It is fitting that Scotland, having contributed to the problem in the first place, is now leading on many of the solutions.
I had the privilege of attending the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP 22) meeting in Marrakech last year, where Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations, referred to the 'great achievement' of Scotland exceeding its 2020 emissions reduction target six years early. By delivering a massive 45.8% cut in emissions since 1990, Scotland has demonstrated to the world that deep cuts are possible.
We should all be proud of this achievement. Without unanimous Parliamentary agreement on the need for urgent action back in 2009 we could never have come so far, so quickly.
Our achievements are a direct result of our ambition, our determination, our hard work, and our willingness to collaborate. Progress has been achieved not by the Scottish Government alone, but by businesses, investors, communities and households, non-governmental organisations and the wider public sector all working to deliver a common goal for the common good.
Decarbonising electricity is critical in tackling emissions and we are well on our way. In 2015, renewable electricity accounted for an incredible 59.4% of Scotland's gross electricity consumption. Scottish based companies are selling their renewables expertise abroad in more than 40 countries.
We have exceeded our 2020 target of achieving 500 megawatts in community and local ownership, and in line with our 2016 election manifesto commitment, we now pledge to double this to one gigawatt in the same timeframe – the equivalent of powering half a million homes.
And we mustn't forget that many community and locally owned renewables projects generate funds that can be spent at local people's discretion.
On energy efficiency, we have exceeded yet another target, achieving a 15.2% cut in total energy consumption six years earlier than planned. This is not just an impressive statistic: our investment is making a real difference to vulnerable households in Scotland, particularly in addressing fuel poverty.
And in my own portfolio, we have seen a 77% emissions reduction in the waste sector between 1990 and 2014. Almost two million households in Scotland now have access to a food waste collection service, up from 300,000 in 2010.
These are just some examples of our progress. We have done well, but together, we must do more.
Today's draft Plan sets out how we intend to reduce emissions by 66% by 2032 against the 1990 baseline.
This reduction takes us into truly transformational territory.
For the first time, we have made use of an international standard for modelling emissions reductions and energy issues. Some of you may have attended a session in the Parliament my senior officials provided last year, which I hope you found helpful.
This model has helped us decide how to reduce emissions across the economy using a pathway broken down into carbon envelopes, or budgets, for each major sector.
By 2030, Scotland's electricity system will be wholly decarbonised and supply a growing share of Scotland's total energy needs. System security will be ensured through diverse generation technologies, increased storage, smart grid technologies and improved interconnection.
By 2030, the combination of carbon capture and storage, and the production of gas from plant material and biomass waste, will have the potential to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
By 2032, through Scotland's landmark Energy Efficiency Programme, SEEP, we will have transformed the energy efficiency and heating of our homes and non-domestic buildings (termed 'services' in the draft Plan). Wherever technically feasible and practical, non-domestic buildings will be near zero carbon and the majority of homes will be connected to low carbon heating systems.
Scottish households should save hundreds of millions of pounds on their fuel bills over the lifetime of the Plan, and thousands of jobs will be supported through the development of energy efficiency as well as renewable heat services and technologies.
Our shops, offices, schools and hospitals will be warmer and easier to heat. By reducing energy demand we can help businesses improve their energy productivity and competitiveness and release savings in the public sector for front line services.
The transport sector will be significantly decarbonised by 2032 – with emissions dropping by a third compared to 2014. Low emission cars and vans will be widespread, and low emission heavy goods vehicles will be more common.
We are committed to freeing Scotland's communities from harmful vehicle emissions. We will continue to invest in public transport and active travel; and in low carbon technologies, such as electric cars and vans, hybrid ferries, green buses, and the infrastructure they require.
In the ChargePlace Scotland network, we already have one of the most comprehensive electric charging networks in Europe. Electric vehicle sales are climbing.
We have also committed to the introduction of our first low emission zone in 2018. We will evaluate and pilot the more extensive use of low emission zones and associated changes to freight logistics and public transport, all of which will contribute significantly to improved air quality.
Public health will benefit. Scientists tell us the more they learn about the impact of air pollution on our health, the more concerned they become.
This is also a question of social justice – in Scotland's towns and cities communities with the lowest rates of car ownership are often those most likely to be affected by pollution.
In waste, we should see emissions continuing to fall as we progress towards our ambitious waste targets. Landfilling of biodegradable municipal waste will be phased out by 2020 and by 2025 we expect to have reduced food waste by a third.
In agriculture our ambition is for Scotland to be among the lowest carbon and most efficient food producers in the world. By 2030 we expect farmers on improved land to know the nutrient value of their soils and to be implementing good practice in nutrient management and application.
My message to Scotland's farmers is clear: what's good for the planet is good for your pocket and we will support you to ensure you can cut your emissions and costs.
Enhancing our natural carbon sinks is critical. By 2030 we will have restored 250,000 hectares of degraded peatlands against 1990 levels – an improvement of valuable soils which represent around 20% of Scotland's land mass. This is a step change in our ambition and is also fundamental for biodiversity, water quality and our own enjoyment of Scotland's spectacular natural environment.
And we will increase our tree planting rates over time up to 15,000 hectares by 2024 and 2025, with a view to having 21% of the Scottish land area in wood cover – an increase of around 3%.
The draft Climate Change Plan and the forthcoming draft Energy Strategy set out challenging but achievable goals which will boost Scotland's productivity, and foster a vibrant climate for innovation, investment and high value jobs.
We are committed to working even more closely with business to finalise and implement these plans and secure sustainable economic growth driven by innovation, exports and inclusion.
The Scottish Government's long standing commitment to a low carbon future has provided certainty to investors, businesses and communities. It has given us credibility and respect on the world stage. It is a practical demonstration of our role as global citizens.
Parliament now has the opportunity to help us refine and improve our approach. I commend this draft Climate Change Plan to members.