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New ambitious actions needed for a net zero Scotland – CCC

Scotland needs to boost its efforts to cut carbon emissions, with decisive action to strengthen climate change policy in all parts of the economy, according to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), particularly as the country is to host COP26 towards the end of this year.

Scotland already has a world-leading net zero by 2045 target, but progress towards this has slowed recently. The CCC’s 2019 Progress Report to the Scottish Parliament shows that greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by just 3% in 2017, compared to a 10% fall in 2016. The fall was again led by the power sector, due in large part to Scotland’s first full year of coal-free electricity generation.

However, recent performance in other sectors shows only incremental improvement at best and, unless emissions reductions are delivered economy-wide, Scotland is at risk of missing its new interim target of a 56% reduction in emissions by 2020, says the report.

Lord Deben, Chairman of the CCC, said: ‘Scotland has set an ambitious world-leading net zero target of 2045. Now Scotland needs to walk the talk. The new legally-binding target for 2030 – a 75% reduction in emissions compared to 1990 – is extremely stretching and demands new policies that begin to work immediately.’

Next year, Glasgow will host perhaps the most important global climate summit since COP21 in Paris in 2015. The UK’s credibility as COP26 President – and Scotland’s as the host – now rests on real action at home, says the CCC.

The CCC report finds that Scotland’s ability to deliver its net-zero target is contingent on action taken in the UK, and vice versa. Westminster must match Scottish policy ambition if Scotland – and the UK as a whole – is to make progress in key sectors where legislative powers are ‘reserved’. These include heavy industry, carbon capture and storage, electricity generation, the gas grid, vehicle standards, road freight, and a common aviation framework. 

Both governments must work more closely to make the best use of devolved and reserved policy levers in key areas where responsibilities are split, including the future of heating, electric vehicles and low-carbon infrastructure.

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