Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 - section 72 operation: eleventh annual report

Information and conclusions fulfilling our annual reporting requirements on the operation Section 3F of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997.

2 Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets

2.1 Scotland's climate change legislation, in the form of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 and Climate Change (Emissions Reductions Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019, sets a target for net-zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045. It also includes interim targets of 56%, 75% and 90% reductions in emissions by 2020, 2030 and 2040 respectively (relative to a 1990/1995 baseline). Annual emissions reduction targets are also set for the period between now and the net-zero target year.

2.2 The Scottish Government's package of policies and proposals for meeting emissions reduction targets is set out through regular Climate Change Plans. The third such Plan[6], which covers the period to 2032, was published in February 2018. An update to the 2018 Climate Change Plan, to reflect the increase in target ambition arising from the 2019 Act, was laid in Parliament in December 2020. This contains 100 new policies and proposals over the 2018 Plan, and "boosts" 40 existing policies and proposals . The update builds on and complements the existing Plan, rather than replicating or superseding it in its entirety

2.3 The crucial role of the planning system in delivering emissions reductions is recognised within the Climate Change Plan update. Responding to the global climate emergency will be at the heart of a fourth National Planning Framework, preparation of which is currently underway and which will also incorporate Scottish Planning Policy. One of the six outcomes for the fourth National Planning Framework, as specified by the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019[7], is "meeting any targets relating to the reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases, within the meaning of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, contained in or set by virtue of that Act".

2.4 It should be noted that there are a range of plans, programmes and strategies which set the wider context of climate change policy. These include, but are not limited to, the Infrastructure Investment Plan[8]; Climate Ready Scotland: Second Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme 2019 – 2024[9]; the Strategic Transport Projects Review 2[10] and the National Islands Plan[11].

2.5 The Scottish Energy Strategy[12]sets the long-term vision for Scotland's energy system; taking a 'whole-system' approach that considers both the use and supply of energy. It sets out targets for the equivalent of 50% of the energy for Scotland's heat, transport and electricity consumption to come from renewable sources by 2030 as well as an increase of 30% in the productivity of energy use across the Scottish economy. This is a long-term strategy, designed to guide our decision making between now and the middle of the century. Through the introduction of two illustrative energy scenarios for 2050, the final Strategy acknowledges the need to take a flexible and open approach to decarbonisation, with a portfolio of technology options required.

2.6 One of the challenges addressed in the third Climate Change Plan is emissions from our homes and buildings. Making our existing buildings more energy efficient will have significant results in reducing demand for space heating and therefore emissions. The draft Heat in Buildings Strategy outlines an ambition for all homes to achieve the equivalent of an EPC rating of C where possible, by 2035, to help remove poor energy efficiency as a driver of fuel poverty and to support the transition to low and zero emissions heating.

2.7 The Climate Change Plan update sets out a range of proposals relating to decarbonisation of heat in buildings, including rapidly scaling up the use of low and zero emissions heating for homes and non-domestic buildings.

2.8 In 2017, the Scottish Government published a consultation on proposals to create a statutory duty on local authorities to develop Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies (LHEES)[13]. These will set out long-term strategies for reducing energy demand, decarbonising heat in buildings, and guiding investment in energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation at a local level. LHEES will be driven forward by local authorities working in partnership with local communities and wider partners, and will support, and be supported by, the development planning system. The proposed LHEES will prioritise opportunities for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation, including the identification of areas where heat networks are thought to be most viable.

2.9 Section 3F only applies to new buildings and these are a very small proportion of the building stock in Scotland. Building regulations set greenhouse gas emissions targets for new buildings and minimum standards for building fabric and services where work is undertaken in existing buildings. Reviews of these standards in 2007, 2010 and most recently in 2015 have resulted in emissions from new buildings built to current standards being, on aggregate, around 75% lower than those built to standards in force in 1990, with corresponding reductions in energy demand. The level of challenge of current standards means that the use of low carbon equipment such as photovoltaic panels is now common in new construction, particularly in new homes. For example, analysis of Energy Performance Data for new homes indicates that the amount of solar photovoltaic included each year has increased from 10% to 50% in homes between 2016 and 2019. A further review of the energy standards set under building regulations is in progress with the intent that this will be complete at the end of 2021.

2.10 The Programme for Government 2019-2020[14] set out the Scottish Government's ambitions to develop regulations so that new homes consented from 2024 are required to use zero emissions heat, to phase in the same approach for new non-domestic buildings consented from 2024, and to work with public authorities to establish Net Zero Carbon Standards for new public buildings and make heating them more efficient.



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