5. The Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill as passed
5.1. Consideration of reasonable alternatives
5.1.1 The 2005 Act requires that the Scottish Government identify, describe and evaluate the likely significant effects on the environment of any reasonable alternatives to the plan, programme or strategy, taking into account its objectives and geographical scope.
5.1.2 In its advice to the Scottish Government in March 2017, the UK Committee on Climate Change outlined an alternative option in relation to target levels. The SEA considered this 'reasonable alternative' which was assessed alongside the Bill proposals, and this is outlined below:
- Maintain the 2050 target at 80% for now, creating review points at which the target ambition could be increased.
5.1.3 In its updated advice to the Scottish Government in May 2019, the UK Committee on Climate Change made a single recommendation of increasing the long-term target to net-zero emissions by 2045.
5.2. Consideration by Parliament
5.2.1 A number of amendments were lodged during the Bill's passage through Parliament. The main changes as a result of this parliamentary process, relative to the Bill as introduced and in addition to those changes already discussed in the preceding sections of this report (in relation to targets and a Citizen's Assembly on climate change) are outlined below.
- The creation of a national nitrogen balance sheet, with the purpose of recording how nitrogen use efficiency contributes to achieving the targets, is required to be created within 18 months of commencement;
- Future Infrastructure Investment Plans will be required to be accompanied by an assessment of how they are expected to contribute to the meeting of the targets;
- A new annual reporting duty is added on monitoring progress to the delivery of the Land Use Strategy;
- Existing annual reporting is strengthened on Scotland's carbon footprint, which is a complementary emissions measure to the main set of figures on which targets are based and includes estimates of "consumption-based" emissions;
- Future climate change adaptation programmes will be required to include an international dimension;
- The role of sustainable development considerations, in particular links to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, is strengthened throughout the statutory framework;
- A range of further amendments to the content requirements for future Climate Change Plans, to the effect that they must;
- include estimates of the costs and benefits of policies and also further assessments of their economic impacts, including at a regional scale.
- be prepared with regard to a set of "Just Transition principles" and a "Climate Justice principle", and also include policies specifically relevant to supporting a Just Transition.
- set out proposals and policies on a range of specific matters (e.g. district heating, support for Electric Vehicles, oil & gas, regional land-use partnerships).
- set out proposals and policies on the establishment of a "whole farm" approach to emissions accounting and for the reduction of emissions on such a basis.
- include policies relevant to Scottish Government's international, as well as domestic, climate change work, in particular support for action to tackle climate change in developing countries and approaches to "consumption-based" emissions associated with imported goods.
- use a chapter structure that follows UN emissions classification scheme headings.