The Scottish government has been warned by climate experts that its ambitious plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions lack credibility due to weak strategies put together by the Scottish parliament.
The devolved government had so far been something of a pioneer in the U.K. in terms of reducing emissions, according to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), with its actual CO2 emissions lowering 38% compared to 35% with the rest of the U.K., and would now be on the verge of achieving its 2020 goal of reducing emissions by 42% in advance of original targets.
However, the critical progress report for the Scottish parliament by the CCC reported that: “Without firm new policies, reductions in Scottish emissions are unlikely to continue in the 2020s. The final version of Scotland’s plan should also build as fully as possible on the U.K. government’s clean growth plan, which will set out how U.K. emissions targets to 2032 will be met.”
The report went on: “Greater ambition will be required to reduce emissions in the transport sector, as announced in the recent programme for government, with less reliance on rapid deployment of low-carbon heating. The plan as it stands lacks credibility in meeting the emissions targets to 2032 and fails to prepare properly for deeper decarbonisation in the longer term.”
The reduction in Scotland’s emissions has largely been driven by notable increases in renewable electricity, funded by U.K. consumers, alongside cuts in coal-fired power, with Scotland’s last coal powered station in Longannet having closed in 2016 and the electrification of the country’s rail network largely moving forward. However, some Scottish ministers have argued that the country can no longer rely on renewable electricity to achieve its future targets.
This stance comes as a disappointment to the sector, where its potential appeared to be on an upward trajectory. Last year Scotland commissioned its the largest solar farm, a 13 MW ground-mounted array in Tayside, and also completed the U.K.’s biggest community rooftop solar project in Edinburgh. Beyond solar Scotland is also home to the world’s largest tidal turbine trial, and enjoyed record-setting day when wind power produced more electricity than was consumed across Scotland over 24 hours earlier this year.
The renewable energies committee in Scotland aim to phase out all petrol and diesel-powered cars by 2050, and intends to introduce new low emission zones in the largest cities in Scotland, in a bid to control pollution and inefficient vehicles.