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Scotland Outpacing UK Emissions Reductions

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New figures have shown that Scotland met its 2014 emissions reduction target, outpacing the United Kingdom as a whole in both 2014 and overall since 1990 — but experts believe there is still a lot of work to be done.

According to figures published in a new report this week for the Scottish Government by the UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC), Scotland met its 2014 emissions reduction target, with emissions including international aviation and shipping falling by 8.6% in 2014. Conversely, the United Kingdom as a whole only managed to reduce its emissions by 7.3% in 2014, and since 1990, gross Scottish emissions have fallen nearly 40%, compared to the UK’s nearly 33%.

Net emissions show an even more impressive story for Scotland, falling 13% in 2014 down to 41.886 MtCO2e — 5.1 MtCO2e below the target set by the country in 2009, and bringing its emissions down 45.8% below 1990 levels. This puts the country well on track to meet its 2020 interim target of reducing emissions by 42% below 1990 levels, on its way to cutting emissions by at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

The report, Reducing emissions in Scotland — 2016 progress report, is the CCC’s fifth report on Scotland’s progress toward meeting its emission reduction targets, and lays out the progress that has been met already and the action needed to stay on track. The authors note that Scotland is making good progress over a number of areas, and in many cases is leading the UK as a whole. Deployment both at a utility-scale and at community- and local-scale have seen impressive progress, and the country’s energy efficiency policy is described as “well developed, especially compared to that in England.”

“Scotland continues to lead the UK both in performance and ambition when it comes to tackling climate change,” explained Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change.

“Emissions are reducing and the latest targets have been hit. Scotland has set out its intention to meet the challenges of climate change and its contribution to the ambition agreed at the Paris climate conference last December. New policies are now required for Scotland to continue its commendable path to decarbonising its economy.”

However, the Committee on Climate Change tempered its enthusiasm and praise for Scotland’s efforts by reminding that there is still much more that needs to be done if Scotland is to meet its high ambition and tighter targets extending beyond 2020. There is a need for stronger policies in the upcoming Climate Change Plan which is set to be published in the next few months, which will look to introduce policies intended to tackle reducing greenhouse gas emissions in key sectors. Such policy recommendations made by the CCC include:

  • Ensure objectives are specific, outcome-focused, and measurable to allow effective monitoring and evaluation.
  • Focus on the core set of policies and actions that will have the biggest impact, particularly in transport, buildings and agriculture.
  • Introduce effective monitoring and evaluation to allow progress to be measured and effort increased if need be to ensure objectives are being achieved. This should include creating a set of indicators for the Climate Change Plan.
  • Take into account wider benefits as well as the costs of climate change actions, e.g. improving health, saving money, alleviating fuel poverty, preserving Scottish ecosystems and biodiversity, providing local jobs and services, and helping the economy of Scotland grow.

The following infographic was published by the Committee on Climate Change, explaining how greenhouse gas emissions are reducing in Scotland.


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