Climate change targets for Scotland ‘most ambitious in world’
Targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland are the “most ambitious in the world”, according to experts.
Earlier this month, the Scottish Government agreed to a target of net-zero emissions by 2045.
It followed recommendations set out by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) that Scotland meet the target five years ahead of the UK in 2050.
Speaking at Holyrood on Tuesday, representatives from the CCC told MSPs it is a “critical moment” for targets to be set in order to combat climate change.
In its report, the CCC indicated that Scotland has greater potential to remove pollution from its economy than the UK overall, and therefore concluded that the country could credibly adopt a more ambitious target than the UK.
Professor Piers Forster, a CCC member, said: “Some other countries are considering quite similar targets but I think we can say with confidence that the 2045 target for Scotland we set is currently the most ambitious in the whole world.”
As part of the work towards achieving the goal, Scotland will also aim to reduce emissions by 70% by 2030 and 90% by 2040.
Chris Stark, CCC chief executive said setting such a target would be a “fundamental step”.
He added: “We don’t have that much more time to achieve these kinds of targets.
“The luxury of looking at it, thinking we have decades and decades of time, will soon evaporate.
“So setting a target like this at this moment is quite a fundamental step.
“This is the moment for us to do as fundamental a piece of work as we can on this so that parliaments up and down the land can make the right decision.”
Mr Stark told MSPs that the the possibility of setting an earlier date for the UK, and for Scotland had been considered.
However he explained that setting an earlier Scottish target would be less likely to be met.
“Any date prior to 2050 for the UK and prior to 2045 for Scotland carries a huge amount of risk of failure,” said Mr Stark.
“There are physical and real barriers to achieving it and those things are not easily fixed, even over a time period of 25 years.”
The CCC chief executive added that by adopting ambitious targets, Scotland and the UK can have a positive influence on other countries to decide to take similar measures.
He said: “A rich, industrialised economy like Scotland, like the UK, setting a target as ambitious as this gives a much stronger platform for the EU to actually set the target that’s been proposed by the Commission.
“I think we can feel much more confident about the world getting on a better pathway if we approach it that way.
“The counter-argument is, if we don’t do it, it would be very easy for other parties, especially the EU, not to do it as well. So this is a really critical moment to set a target like this.”
At the SNP conference last month, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared a “climate emergency” and said that Scotland would continue to “lead by example” on tackling the issue.