Low Carbon Scotland - meeting our emissions reduction targets 2013-2027: second report

This is our second report on proposals and policies (RPP2) for meeting our climate change targets.

Ministerial Foreword

Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment

Richard Lochhead
Cabinet Secretary for Rural
Affairs and Environment

Paul Wheelhouse Minister for Environment and Climate Change

Paul Wheelhouse
Minister for Environment and Climate Change

In 2009, the Scottish Parliament unanimously passed the most ambitious climate change legislation anywhere in the world. Four years later, our legislation and its framework of statutory annual targets remain the most ambitious in the world.

Whilst there is an increasing global focus upon dealing with the lingering effects of the global economic downturn, that in no way diminishes the clear threat that climate change poses to the people of Scotland, our quality of life and our environment, if average global temperature rises cannot be kept to 2°C or less.

It is imperative that we act, both locally and globally, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by moving to a low carbon economy. It is now vital to address the very real economic and social impacts of climate change on present and future generations and our environment.

Investing in a low carbon economy supports sustainable growth in Scotland by helping households and businesses save money through energy and resource efficiency and by securing new jobs and investment, and it also supports our long-term energy security. Recognising the importance of this investment, the Scottish Government has made the transition to a low carbon economy one of our strategic priorities in our Government Economic Strategy.

Our ambitious climate change legislation means that our Parliament has set very challenging targets and these have been made tougher still by substantial changes in the way in which Scotland's emissions are calculated. These changes have been identified as a factor in missing the annual target for 2010 and such a change was the decisive factor in missing the target in 2011. The fact that the 2011 target was missed is disappointing, given that in 2011 we witnessed the largest ever recorded year on year decrease in unadjusted greenhouse gas emissions (at 9.9%) and significant progress was made across a number of sectors.

Our 2011 emissions figures also need to be seen in the context of the continuing downward trend in Scotland's emissions, which have now fallen by 25.7% since 1990. For comparison, this means that Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions have decreased in size by an amount greater than the total emissions in 2011 of our near neighbour, Northern Ireland. This progress means that Scotland continues to be a climate change leader in Europe, having reduced emissions faster than any member state in the EU-15. We can be proud of what we have achieved together, even if we recognise that more needs to be done.

Over the next decade, we will complete the 'easy wins'. The 2020s and beyond will establish the transformational changes necessary for a truly low carbon future. By 2030, Scotland's electricity supply will be largely decarbonised and we will have made significant progress decarbonising the sources of heat that we use and the vehicles that we travel in. Scotland will have seen a step-change in the provision of energy efficient homes. As a society, we will walk and cycle more, we will create even less waste and we will be smarter still about what we do with it. We will also be making the most of the many opportunities afforded through good stewardship of Scotland's ecosystems, deploying best practice in agriculture, while continuing to improve the ability of our peatland and woodland to lock in carbon.

The people of Scotland are building on strong foundations. In 2012, a record year, almost 39% of Scotland's electricity needs were generated by renewable sources. In housing, two-thirds of cavity walls have already been insulated and annual loft insulation rates more than doubled between 2008-09 and 2011-12. Large organisations are taking action to save money by cutting energy and resource use, with coordinated efforts such as the development of an energy efficient national street lighting programme, using LED technology.

Emissions from new vehicles have fallen by a quarter in the last decade and will reduce by a third more in the next. Recycling rates have increased from 5% to over 40% since 1999, the amount of waste that goes to landfill is down 58% in that period and waste management emissions fell 68% between 1990 and 2011. Finally, farmers are finding new ways to cut their use of nitrogen fertilisers, while the potential to lock carbon into Scotland's peatland is beginning to be properly understood and the decline in woodland creation is being reversed.

This report shows where the next steps can be taken. It has been subject to rigorous review by Parliament's committees and our stakeholders. We would like to thank all of those who took part in this process, including members of all political parties, stakeholders, delivery partners and members of the public. The feedback on the draft has been helpful and we have adopted many of the recommendations in this final version.

The package of proposals and policies outlined in this report has the capacity to deliver emissions cuts well in excess of the amount that the independent expert Committee on Climate Change ( CCC) suggested was possible and despite constraints arising from Scotland's block grant.

Scotland's targets to 2020 were set to achieve a 42% reduction in emissions that the CCC advised could be hit in circumstances where the EU adopted an equivalent 30% target. Although progress towards a stronger EU 2020 target has stalled, this report shows that Scottish proposals and policies can deliver the 42% reduction even without a larger contribution from the EU. We believe these measures represent a credible approach to cutting emissions while also safeguarding and contributing to Scotland's economic recovery and ensuring that the actions we expect of individuals, families, businesses and other organisations are proportionate and fair.

The challenge that we have set ourselves is not an easy one. It would have been far easier to set targets that ignored climate science or showed little ambition, so that they would be straightforward to meet. Scotland does not lack ambition and as a nation we can take pride in that.

Scotland can be proud of the progress that we have already made. However, we can go further and that is why we have set ambitious new targets specifically to decarbonise the production of electricity and heat.

The low carbon transition is well underway but, despite obvious progress, we remain in the early stages of our journey. We must maintain momentum if we are to avoid facing the increased costs that would arise later if the global community fails to act. To achieve this, we need the continued support of our partners in the private and public sectors, the involvement of the thousands of members and activists within the environmental NGO movement and, most importantly, the participation of individuals and families across Scotland.

We recognise the responsibility of the Scottish Government to lead this effort: to help households and businesses save money on their bills; to make the big choices on policy and secure the investment that will give Scotland a competitive advantage in important industries and markets; and, ultimately, to ensure we seize the opportunities that a low carbon future offers both to Scotland's economy and society as a whole.

Richard Lochhead
Cabinet Secretary for Rural
Affairs and Environment

Richard Lochhead - signature

Paul Wheelhouse
Minister for Environment and Climate Change

Paul Wheelhouse - signature


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