Climate Change Bill - strategic environmental assessment: post adoption

Ways in which the findings of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) environmental report and the views expressed by consultation respondents have been taken into account as the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill was finalised into the 2019 Act.

3. Opinions expressed on the draft Climate Change Bill

A total of 19,365 consultation responses were received, of which 19,092 were campaign responses with or without variation, coordinated by several organisations. The consultancy Dialogue by Design were commissioned by the Scottish Government to conduct the independent analysis of responsesand provide a summary report of these, which was published in December 2017[9].

3.1. Updating the target ambition

Consultation responses

3.1.1 Respondents generally supported the proposal of raising the ambition of the 2050 and interim greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. However, many perceived the Bill proposals as a minimum requirement and felt that they should be even more ambitious, including the setting of a net zero target and the potential for its achievement before 2050. Other respondents supported the proposal to include provisions in the new Climate Change Bill that allow for a net zero target to be set at a later date, highlighting the flexibility this provides.

3.1.2 Some respondents were opposed to the proposed targets, and a few would prefer the 2050 target to remain at 80% reduction from baseline levels, with the provision to increase it later. A few respondents expressed concerns about the feasibility of the proposed 2050 and interim targets.

3.1.3 Many respondents supported the proposal to set the levels of annual targets as a direct consequence of interim and 2050 targets. They saw this approach as sensible, and believed it will be clear if targets are not being achieved. Other respondents suggested a non-linear approach to setting annual and long-term targets.

3.1.4 Many respondents were supportive of the proposal to present annual targets in the form of percentage reductions from baseline levels, for consistency with the form of the long-term targets. A number of respondents raised concerns with this approach and suggested publishing absolute figures alongside percentages to address these.

Scottish Government response

3.1.5 In line with updated advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change on targets received in May 2019[10], following a joint commission from the Scottish, Welsh and UK Governments in October 2018 after the publication of the IPCC's Special Report on global warming of 1.5 degrees[11], the long term target set out in the Bill was amended at Stage 2 of the parliamentary process to net zero by 2045. The 2030 and 2040 interim targets were also adjusted at Stage 2 to reductions of 70% and 90% by 2030 and 2040 respectively (compared to 66% and 78% in the Bill as introduced). The 2020 target remained unchanged at 56%. The 2030 target was then amended again at Stage 3 of the process to a 75% reduction. These amendments are all relevant to the responses received to the Bill consultation calling for increased ambition.

3.1.6 In line with the 2017 advice of the UK Committee on Climate Change, the Bill as introduced (and retained into the 2019 Act), requires that annual target levels are set as a direct consequence of the long term target levels and in the same, percentage-based form as these.

3.1.7 Statutory duties resulting from any missed targets remain the same as under the 2009 Act. These state that additional policies to catch up excess emissions must be set out as soon as reasonably practicable.

3.2. Emissions accounting for targets

Consultation responses

3.2.1 Many respondents supported the proposal to set targets on the basis of actual emissions, removing the accounting adjustment for the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). They felt the proposal will improve accuracy, consistency, and transparency of the current system; and make communication about targets easier to understand. Some respondents believed that using actual emissions will better reflect progress and motivate further action. Other respondents suggested that both figures be reported in parallel, and a few opposed the proposal referring to perceived benefits of the accounting adjustment for the EU ETS.

Scottish Government response

3.2.2 In line with the 2017 advice of the UK Committee on Climate Change, the Bill as introduced (and retained into the 2019 Act), requires that progress to targets should be based on "actual" emission levels from all sectors of the economy, as opposed to the "EU ETS adjusted" accounting used under the 2009 Act.

3.3. Reviewing targets

Consultation responses

3.3.1 Many respondents were supportive of the ability to update interim and 2050 targets through secondary legislation, but felt that this should only be allowed for increasing targets. Other respondents believed that decreasing targets should be allowed, but via primary legislation or a super affirmative secondary legislation procedure.

3.3.2 Some respondents felt that additional considerations should be added to the current list of target-setting criteria, which already includes scientific knowledge, technology, environmental considerations, and European and international law and policy. A number of respondents wished to see further detailed comments on the Scottish emissions budget, social circumstances, economic circumstances, and impact on remote rural and island communities. They also highlighted the importance of equality, intergenerational and international equity, and human rights and suggested additional criteria which they felt should be considered when setting or updating targets.

Scottish Government response

3.3.3 The 2019 Act sets out that Scottish Ministers may, by regulations, modify one or more of the percentage figures in relation to interim targets (and/or the net-zero emissions target date) with a higher or lower figure (and/or an earlier or later year). However, proposals to lower target levels can only be made if the UK Committee on Climate Change has advised that this should occur solely as a result of changes in scientific understanding regarding climate change or the measurement of emissions.

3.3.4 Section 5 of the 2019 Act sets out the updated list of target-setting criteria. These include the premise that targets should have the objective of not exceeding the fair and safe Scottish emissions budget. Further to this, target-setting criteria include, but are not limited to, the consideration of scientific knowledge, relevant technology, social circumstances and the impacts on remote and rural communities. New criteria are added in relation to; i) public health, ii) the likely impact of the target on the achievement of sustainable development, including the achievement of the United Nations sustainable development goals and iii) current international carbon reporting practice.

3.4. Reporting and future plans

Consultation responses

3.4.1 Concerning the frequency of updates to and the duration of future Climate Change Plans, respondents generally preferred the current frequency (every five years) and duration (of approximately 16 years), but some provided alternative suggestions. Respondents who agreed with the current frequency felt that setting plans every five years provides a suitable balance of flexibility and long-term stability. Some respondents felt that short-term plans allow for urgent action and quicker adaptation to change; while others felt that long-term plans provide certainty and stability for long-term planning and investment for implementation.

3.4.2 Some respondents supported the suggestion to create Climate Change Plans after the Paris Stocktakes, which take place every five years, to avoid the need to update them. Respondents who were opposed to this proposal saw it as an unnecessary delay to Scottish climate change efforts. Some suggestions included making provisional plans prior to the stocktakes and updating them afterwards.

3.4.3 Respondents generally felt that the period for parliamentary consideration of Climate Change Plans should be 90 or 120 days as they believed a period of more than 60 days would allow for proper scrutiny and consensus-building. Some respondents were supportive of the proposal to make up for any shortfall against targets in future Climate Change Plans, seeing it as essential to avoid missing future targets. Respondents who objected to the proposal were concerned about a potential time lag between shortfalls occurring and remedial action being implemented. They suggested alternative approaches to deal with shortfalls.

Scottish Government response

3.4.4 The 2019 Act requires the publication of Climate Change Plans at least every 5 years with a plan period of either 15 years, beginning with the year in which the draft plan is laid before Parliament, or a period of between 10 and 20 years.

3.4.5 The 2019 Act extends the parliamentary scrutiny period for draft Climate Change Plans to at least 120 days, of which at least 60 must be sitting days. A new requirement is added to also seek the views of the UK Committee on Climate Change on draft Plans.

3.4.6 The 2019 Act also adds a new reporting requirement that a suite of annual progress reports must be laid before Parliament by Scottish Ministers, to report on progress to the delivery of each substantive (sectoral) chapter of the most recent climate change plan.

3.5. Assessing the wider impacts of the proposals

Consultation responses

3.5.1 Some respondents felt that the proposals would impact positively on people, improving quality of life and health, and lead to an increase in income equality. Others said that details are lacking to be able to identify potential impacts. Respondents sometimes stated that the Scottish Government has a responsibility to future generations to address climate change. They often reflected on the need for people to change their behaviour as Scotland transitions to a low carbon economy and discussed barriers to behaviour change.

3.5.2 Many respondents said that the proposals will be beneficial to the Scottish economy, with increased employment in sectors such as renewable energy or electric transport, as well as research and development opportunities. It was felt that increased energy efficiency will also reduce business costs. Other respondents were of the view that the proposals represent a challenge to Scotland's economy and businesses, and feared that there may be higher transport and energy costs, or increased taxation. Respondents often referred to the need for a just transition to a low carbon economy, with input from a range of stakeholders and support available for businesses. Respondents who commented on the potential positive environmental effects of the proposals said that the predicted effects set out in the Environmental Report are accurate, and these are further discussed in section 4 of this Post Adoption Statement.

Scottish Government response

3.5.3 The Bill, as introduced, was accompanied by a number of impact assessments to help identify the wider effects of the proposals. These included a joint Equality, Children's Rights and Wellbeing and Fairer Scotland Impact Assessment, a separate Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment as well as a Strategic Environmental Assessment, all of which helped inform the Bill proposals.

3.5.4 Changes to the Bill with relevance to these other assessments also occurred during its parliamentary passage. For example, the 2019 Act sets out a set of "just transition principles", which Ministers must have regard to when preparing Climate Change Plans. These provisions will ensure that action to reduce emissions is done in a way which supports environmentally and socially sustainable jobs, creates decent, fair and high value work and supports low-carbon investment and infrastructure.

3.6. Other issues

Consultation responses

3.6.1 Respondents emphasised various broader issues relating to the proposals put forward in this consultation, including climate change impacts, the need for urgent action, and the commitments under the Paris Agreement. Some respondents highlighted the importance of global approaches in setting targets such as global emissions budgets and the Climate Fairshares Model. They praised the Scottish Government for what they viewed as better than expected recent progress against current climate change targets, and felt that it is important for Scotland to maintain its position as a global leader in climate change mitigation. Many respondents provided various suggestions for the proposals and methods to achieve the proposed targets.

Scottish Government response

3.6.2 The targets in the 2019 Act are amongst the most ambitious of any country in the world. In particular, the end target of net-zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045, five years ahead of the UK, matches the UK Committee on Climate Change's advice on the "highest possible" ambition – as called for under the Paris Agreement. The new 75% target for 2030 goes far beyond what the 2018 IPCC Special Report says is needed globally over the next decade to prevent warming of more than 1.5°C.

3.6.3 In order to ensure the involvement of Scotland's people in achieving our climate change ambitions, the 2019 Act includes a provision for the creation of a Citizens Assembly to report to both Ministers and Parliament by 2021 with recommendations on measures proposed to achieve the emissions reduction targets.



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