Climate Change Act - Section 72: twelfth annual report

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

3 Scotland's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Targets

3.1 The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, as amended by the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction 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.

3.2 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[7] to the 2018 Climate Change Plan, published in December 2020.

3.3 It should be noted that there are a range of plans, programmes and strategies which contribute to emissions reductions in Scotland. Some examples of relevance to emissions from buildings are set out below.

3.4 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,[8] 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".

3.5 The Scottish Energy Strategy[9] sets the long-term vision for Scotland's energy system; taking a 'whole-system' approach that considers how the energy system must evolve to drive our transition to net zero. Last year, we committed to publishing a refresh of the strategy in 2022 that will outline a coordinated vision for Scotland's energy system by supporting the delivery of a just transition. Our biggest priority is delivering the target of 50% of the energy for heat, transport and electricity consumption in Scotland to come from renewable sources. The refreshed strategy will take the form of a clear roadmap for the next decade, followed by a vision for the energy system in 2045, supporting the delivery of our net zero commitment.

3.6 The Heat in Buildings Strategy[10] sets out an ambitious package of policies to deliver a 68% reduction in emissions from buildings from 2020 to 2030. Achieving this will require conversion from fossil fuel heating to zero emissions heat systems in the vast majority of the 170,000 homes that currently use high emissions oil, LPG and solid fuels, as well as at least 1 million homes that currently use mains gas. By 2030, we will also need to convert the equivalent of 50,000 of Scotland's non-domestic properties. The large majority of buildings will need to achieve a good level of energy efficiency by 2030, equivalent to EPC C for homes, with all homes meeting at least this standard by 2033.

3.7 As set out in the Heat in Buildings Strategy, Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies (LHEES) will set out the long-term plan for decarbonising heat in buildings and improving their energy efficiency across an entire local authority area, and will be in place for all local authority areas by the end of 2023. A pilot programme was undertaken with all 32 Scottish local authorities to test approaches for LHEES and build capacity.[11] The Scottish Government is developing a statutory framework for LHEES in partnership with COSLA and is committed to resourcing their development accordingly.

3.8 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 the most recent standards (2015), combined with lower capital costs for photovoltaic systems means that the use of low carbon generating equipment such as photovoltaic panels is now common in new construction, particularly in new homes. For example, analysis of Energy Performance Certificate 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.

3.9 A further review of the energy standards set under building regulations is in progress which proposes aggregate emissions reductions of at least 32% for new domestic buildings and 16% for new non-domestic buildings. Responses to the public consultation, that closed on the 26th November are currently being analysed. The new standards are programmed to take effect in October 2022.

3.10 The outcome of proposed changes and the adoption of the revised UK calculation methodology[12] will affect decision making on the scale of installation of generating technologies as part of new buildings. This is due principally to two factors:

  • Revision of UK carbon factors assigned to fuels means that the efficacy of on-site generation of electricity in offsetting emissions from other fuels such as mains natural gas will be cut by more than 70%. This reflects the ongoing decarbonisation of UK electrical generation.
  • To support solutions which are effective in reducing the energy which needs to be supplied to a building, the component of on-site generation capacity exported to grid would be excluded from the building regulations compliance calculations.

3.11 Our Heat in Buildings Strategy[13] sets out the Scottish Government's intention to develop regulations which will require new buildings, where a building warrant is applied for from 2024, to only use zero direct emissions heating systems. The Scottish Government has also established the voluntary Net Zero Public Sector Building Standard, which sets out a possible approach for new public sector buildings to be developed to be net zero.[14]



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