There is an “acute risk” that ScotlandAn influential advisory body warned that the government’s vague and weak policies will mean that it will not meet its targets to reduce carbon emissions.
The Climate Change Committee, which advises all the UK’s governments on climate policies, said the Scottish government was currently unable to prove how it would hit its ambitious promise to cut CO2reducing emissions by 75% by end of decade
In an unusually critical statement, Lord Deben, the CCC’s chair, said “the credibility of the Scottish climate framework is in jeopardy.”
His challenge is after Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, staked her government’s reputation on a partnership deal with the Scottish Green party in August which commits them to tougher policies on combating climate heating.
Sturgeon also enjoyed significant media coverage during the Cop26 global climate summit in Glasgow last month, meeting influential figures such as Greta Thunberg, the US climate envoy John Kerry and UN secretary-general António Guterres in the margins of the event.
Deben said Sturgeon’s government had the most ambitious and far-reaching pledges of any in the UK, including cutting car mileage by 20% by 2030, decarbonising heating in 1m homes and hitting net zero by 2045 – five years earlier than the UK target. These policies included those that were agreed with the Greens in august.
But despite these “laudable” ambitions, the strategies and policies needed to hit them were absent, Deben said.
His committee may not have the evidence necessary to assess future Scottish government progress.
“Clarity and transparency on policy, supported with detail on how these policies will be delivered, has been lacking,” Deben said. “My committee cannot assess future progress without this vital assurance.
“[The] risks to meeting the 2030 interim emissions target are now acute; ambition must increase in those areas where rapid changes are still feasible, or where it is possible to lock in lower emissions after the pandemic.”
CCC stated that devolved governments needed more detailed strategies to cut meat and dairy consumption, but they have not yet done so adequately. Also, a low-carbon strategy to farm was needed to replace the current common agricultural policy.
Peatland restoration, to protect some of the world’s largest carbon stores, had to occur “at a significantly higher rate”, it said. Despite the Greens agreement, there was no specific goal to reduce aviation emissions.
The CCC’s annual reporting to the Scottish parliament, published on Tuesday, said the challenge of achieving such deep cuts was particularly acute because the easiest task – decarbonising energy production – had been largely completed.
Scotland now met much of its electricity needs from renewables, but was running short of time to decarbonise the rest of the economy – a far tougher task. Sturgeon’s government had also missed its annual CO2The CCC stated that the CCC had increased the difficulty of achieving the 2030 target due to the fact that there have been no reductions in targets.
“It has taken 30 years to halve Scottish territorial emissions; they must halve again in a decade to meet the legislated 2030 target,” the committee said.
“Although a broad set of policies and proposals have been announced, there is still relatively little detail on exactly how committed public funding will be spent and how emissions will be reduced in practice.”
Michael Matheson, the Scottish cabinet secretary for net zero, said the government would set out clear commitments to address the climate crisis in its annual budget later this week and was “resolutely focused” on delivering those policies.
He said ministers welcomed the CCC report, adding: “I agree entirely with the committee’s key finding that the focus now, both for us in Scotland and for countries around the world, must be on the delivery of the policies to drive transformational emissions reductions across all areas of the economy.”