Response to the Climate Change Committee: progress reducing emissions – report to Parliament 2021

In December 2021, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) published its annual report on progress in reducing emissions in Scotland, assessing the government’s climate change mitigation activity. This report addresses the CCC’s recommendations.

3. Aviation and Shipping

3.1 Assess airport capacity in the context of Net Zero. There should be no net expansion of airport capacity unless the sector is on track to sufficiently outperform its emissions trajectory and can accommodate the additional demand. A demand management framework will need to be developed (by 2022) and be in place by the mid-2020s to annually assess and, if required, control sector GHG emissions and non-CO2 effects.

Timing: 2022

Primary responsibility: Joint with UK Government

Scottish Government response: We cannot currently accept.

The update to our Climate Change Plan was designed with green recovery at its heart, both in its key themes and in specific policy announcements. This sets out the Scottish Government's pathway to the ambitious targets set by the Climate Change Act 2019, and includes domestic and international aviation. In the latest version of the plan we have committed to work to decarbonise scheduled flights within Scotland by 2040 and to work with the aviation industry to restore and grow our international connectivity while not returning to previous levels of emissions.

In the short term, sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) have the potential to significantly reduce the environmental impact of aviation. Longer term hydrogen/electric aircraft could play an important role. In our recent consultation to inform the development of an Aviation Strategy, we asked for views on how we can help accelerate the transition to low and zero-emission aviation, recognising the importance of air travel to Scotland's economy and society and the need to reduce the environmental impact of aviation. The responses to the consultation, alongside other relevant evidence and wider Scottish Government policy, will inform decisions on the final content of the strategy.

3.2 Take steps to address price imbalances between aviation and surface transport, once aviation taxation is devolved to Scotland, encouraging the low-carbon alternative (e.g. rail) for journeys where one exists.

Timing: 2022

Primary responsibility: Scottish Government

Scottish Government response: We cannot currently accept.

We welcome the Climate Change Committee's recognition of the important role that air services play in providing connectivity to our island communities, allowing people to access services and helping to deliver our National Islands Plan. Scotland's geography means that air travel plays an important role in providing connectivity within Scotland and to other parts of the UK, with most people choosing to fly over other forms of transport because it is quicker (Scottish Household survey).

Scottish Government is therefore focusing on (i) supporting and facilitating greater use of rail where this is a viable alternative; and (ii) working with the aviation industry to reduce the environmental impact of air travel, including decarbonising scheduled passenger services within Scotland by 2040. We are also continuing to work with the rail industry to reduce journey times, and have consistently supported high-speed rail, but not just to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. We know that to realise its full benefit for all of Britain, high-speed rail infrastructure needs to be extended 'further and faster' to reach Scotland.

Introduction of the devolved Air Departure Tax (ADT) has been deferred to allow the issues raised in relation to the Highlands and Islands exemption to be resolved. We will continue to work with the UK Government to find a solution for aviation that remains consistent with our climate ambitions. The UK Government will maintain the application and administration of APD in Scotland in the interim.

As Scottish Ministers are responsible for the current franchise delivered by Serco, we continue to support and promote our Caledonian Sleeper rail services that connect Scotland with London and offer an alternative to air. There are a range of cross border rail services managed by the UK Government's Department for Transport and last year a new service from Edinburgh to London was introduced by Lumo Trains which offer lower fares alternatives.

3.3 Play a leading role in decarbonising the shipping sector by exploring opportunities to transition ferries operated by Transport Scotland to low-carbon energy and establishing appropriate business models to encourage their adoption.

Timing: Now & ongoing

Primary responsibility: Scottish Government

Scottish Government response: partially accept

Scottish Government partially supports this recommendation. The Scottish Government included in our updated Climate Change Plan a commitment to have 30% of the Government-owned ferry fleet consisting of low or zero emission vessels by 2032, and although ferries can be considered to play a minor part of overall shipping emissions (Domestic ferries make up 1.7% of Scottish transport emissions and less than 1% of total emissions), reducing emissions is one of our priorities.

The Scottish Government has also committed to supporting the decarbonisation of shipping globally, where Scotland is one of the few nations which includes international shipping and aviation in our emissions inventory. The updated Climate Change Plan sets out our commitment to work with the UK Government to support proposals at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to significantly lower shipping carbon emissions in the global sector.



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