Scotland is still behind with greenhouse emission targets

By staff writers
June 9, 2013

Independent and Green MSPs want a debate in the Scottish parliament over environmental action, following disappointing climate change news.

The Scottish government last week reported a failure to meet the country's legally-binding greenhouse gas reduction targets for the second year in a row.

Figures released on 7 June 2013 show Scotland emitted almost a million tonnes of CO2 equivalent more than the target laid down in the Climate Change Act. This follows last year's figures which demonstrated a similar failure.

The target for 2011 was 53.4 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents. Emissions were 54.2 million.

Scotland's Minister for Environment and Climate Change, the SNP MSP Paul Wheelhouse, highlighted the downward trajectory of emissions as he unveiled the latest statistics which show a 9.9 per cent year on year reduction on unadjusted emissions.

These were, he said, "the largest reduction on record and good progress being made across a range of sectors. Scotland is now more than halfway to achieving our 2020 target."

The figures mean Scotland retains its position at the top of the EU15 countries for emissions reductions, says the SNP. Between 1990-2011, Scotland’s emissions reduction of 29.6 per cent is the largest of the EU-15 Member States, and higher than the EU-27 Member States average of 17.1 per cent, when emissions from international aviation, shipping and land use, land use change and forestry sectors are factored in.

The figures also show, Mr Wheelhouse said, that while Scotland met our original emissions target for this year, due to a revision in the historical data in 2011 the updated target has been narrowly missed in carbon terms - by only 0.8 MtCO2e – but has been met in percentage terms.

Revisions to the historical data used to set the targets in 2009 have made each annual target "more challenging", the minister claimed, and overall mean that to meet the target of 42 per cent reduction by 2020 – to 40.717 MTCO2e - Scotland now has to reduce its emissions by over 44 per cent.

But Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow and Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, commented: "This latest failure should be ringing alarm bells at the Scottish Government but instead ministers are showing breathtaking complacency. To claim we're on course to meet the target in 2020 is utter spin; the need to compensate for their failure will clearly make things harder.

"Last year the government buried the figures during the summer recess to avoid scrutiny. Their lucklustre report on proposals and policies to address emissions must be updated and brought before parliament before summer recess at the end of this month.

"This government has failed to invest in the transport, energy and housing policies that would make a real difference. Instead they're blowing billions on bigger roads and they're determed to prop up the fossil fuel industry. It's increasingly clear we won't deliver on our climate change commitments unless we put Green policies at the heart of Scotland's economic agenda," Mr Harvie declared.

* Figures from Scotland’s Chief Statistician:


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