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10/06/14 14:12

Climate change statement

Minister for Environment and Climate Change Paul Wheelhouse
Scottish Parliament
Tuesday June 10, 2014

I wish to advise Members that the 2012 Scottish greenhouse gas emissions statistics were published this morning.

The data indicate that Scotland has seen a 29.9 per cent reduction in emissions of the basket of six key greenhouse gases between 1990 and 2012.

On a comparable basis, using data published today, this contrasts with a reduction of 23.9% for England, 17.7% for Wales and 15.0% for Northern Ireland.

We also know emissions among all EU-28 members fell by 18.5% and for the EU-15 they fell by just 13.9% over the same period.

However, progress towards Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions targets is formally measured against the level of the Net Scottish Emissions Account.

For clarity, this Account incorporates Scotland’s:

• ‘source emissions’
• international aviation and international shipping emissions;
• relevant emissions removals, through carbon sinks, such as forestry; and
• the use of emissions allowances by Scottish industries participating in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).

Our annual targets were set using the 2008 inventory. Parliament envisaged, at the time, a 24.2% reduction in ‘net emissions’ should be achieved by 2012, after adjustment for emissions trading.

In fact, Scotland’s net greenhouse gas emissions had, in 2012, fallen by 26.4% since 1990. In other words our emissions trajectory is showing a steeper percentage decline than Parliament expected or we met the percentage target by 2.2%.

However, the challenge to Scotland’s performance is in terms of measurement against fixed, statutory annual targets, measured in tonnes.

In 2012, unadjusted Scottish greenhouse gas emissions were estimated to be 52.9 Mega Tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtC02e). This is marginally higher than the 2011 figure of 52.5 MtC02e, but, as I stated earlier, 29.9% lower than in 1990.

As the Scottish Climate Change target for 2012 was designed to deliver a specific percentage reduction en route to a 42% decrease by 2020, but was set as a fixed value in tonnes, at 53.226 (MtC02e), so Scottish emissions in that year exceeded the level required by the annual target set under the Act by just over 2.4 MtC02e.

This must be considered in a context of significant changes in how historical data are calculated as well as new data which combined to add around 5.4 MtC02e, or a 7.7% increase to the baseline against which all targets were set. This is more than double the amount by which the 2012 target was exceeded.

Frustratingly, we are only informed of the changes now and could not be aware of them back in 2012.

Details of how the data have been updated and improved are set out in the statistical release.

Our targets are challenging – deliberately so - and year to year fluctuations in factors beyond our control are inevitable.

However, it’s worth noting that if the same percentage reduction (that is 24.1%) that had been envisaged when the 2012 target was set, was applied to the updated baseline, using the 1990-2012 inventory, and the annual target was recalibrated accordingly, the benchmark of success would have been 57.3 MtC02e in 2012.

On that basis, we would now be celebrating Scotland’s emissions being 1.6 MtC02e below a revised 57.3 MtC02e target.

In its annual progress report on Scotland’s performance, in March, our independent climate change advisors, the Committee on Climate Change, acknowledge good progress has been made in Scotland on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions – particularly in the energy sector and energy efficiency. In particular, our record on leading the UK on renewables, with 46.5% of Scotland’s gross electricity consumption generated from renewables in 2013, is one we can be proud of.

Crucially, they noted: “despite having missed the first two statutory targets, underlying progress appears on track in most sectors.”

I believe Scotland’s Parliament and Scotland’s people should take heart from this.

The trajectory is key. Having analysed the latest data, Parliament can be assured we are more than halfway towards our interim target of a 42% emissions reduction by 2020.

In addition to significant baseline adjustments, an increase in the net Scottish emissions account, resulting from the operation of the EU ETS, added 2.8 MtC02e to the 2012 account – this too is more than the amount by which the target was exceeded.

And in 2012, again arising from poor weather, residential emissions increased and energy sector emissions were also affected.

This is a regular vulnerability we are determined to design out, through tackling energy efficiency and decarbonisation of electricity and heat generation.

There are hard yards ahead, but the second Report on Proposals and Policies, or RRP2, sets the strategic direction to meeting our interim 42% target for 2020, and annual targets to 2027.

However, Section 36 of the Act requires that, if Scottish Ministers lay a report stating an annual target has not been met, they must, as soon as reasonably practicable, lay a report setting out proposals and policies to compensate in future years for excess emissions.

I plan to address this by providing an Annual Report on the 2012 Target by the end of October.

The current RPP remains relevant and shows it is possible to meet every annual target.

Some policies and proposals will be easier to implement than others. Technology is changing all the time. If individual measures don’t work out, we would need to examine alternatives.

Presiding Officer, we are also focused on negotiations leading up to the UNFCCC Conference of Parties in Paris in 2015.

As Yeb Saño of the Philippines has asked, we need to demonstrate Scottish Government’s commitment to delivery of our stretching targets, as our contribution to the necessary global action, and to encourage others to higher ambition.

We have engaged in discussions with Stop Climate Chaos for several weeks on next steps, and I am grateful opposition parties seem keen to find consensus on new measures that arose from discussions with stakeholders.

This positivity offers a hope of maintaining our common purpose as a nation in the face of, perhaps, the greatest global challenge.

Therefore, I am pleased to announce the establishment of a Cabinet Sub-Committee on Climate Change to ensure coordination of our strategic response at the highest level within Government. This will complement the new Public Sector Climate Leaders’ Forum and Scottish Government’s Climate Change Delivery Board.

To assist this process, I am making available a monitoring framework for delivery of RPP2 policies and proposals on the Scottish Government website and I thank the Climate Change Delivery Board for their work on this.

Be assured - this Government’s ambition is resolute. I am confident our world-leading targets are driving the changes required for a smooth transition to a low carbon Scotland.

Scottish Ministers remain fully committed to delivering Scotland’s ambitious greenhouse gas emission targets and the economic advantages of an early transition are clear.

I regularly meet my Ministerial colleagues and I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge their significant contributions to the implementation of the delivery framework set out in the RPP2.

For example, Scottish Government and our agencies, through the Heat Network Partnership, will build on the work underpinning the Scottish Government’s Draft Heat Generation Policy Statement to commit resources to supporting delivery of district heating projects, and we are actively engaged with projects across Scotland.

Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, has committed to set up a working group under the Expert Commission on District Heating to consider the existing regulatory context and develop proposals for a regulatory framework, including investigating how best to ensure public sector buildings connect to district heating networks where available and when it is cost effective.

In March, new energy efficiency standards for social housing were launched and last week, my colleague, Margaret Burgess, announced the final Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland (HEEPS) allocations for 2014/15 of £60 million.

This will result in remote local councils receiving £5.3m more in funding for energy efficiency measures for off gas-grid homes than was funded in 2013/14.

We will work with stakeholders to take forward our commitment to target the most fuel poor areas in the years ahead, including remote rural and hard to treat properties.

On sustainable and active travel, we are committed to achieving our target of almost total decarbonisation of road transport by 2050 and, this morning, the Minister for Transport announced a further £15 million package for the years 2014 to 2016.

This included an allocation of an additional £10m in 2014/15 to cycling infrastructure, and more rapid deployment of electric vehicles and associated charging infrastructure throughout Scotland.

This includes £7m for cycling and walking infrastructure, which attracts match funding, with £2m for electric vehicle rapid chargers, and £1m for up to 30 electric vehicles for car clubs.

An allocation of £5m is proposed in 2015/16 by the Minister for Transport to develop behaviour change aspects of the Smarter Choices Smarter Places programme. This will focus on locally designed initiatives, including travel planning, and will be designed to attract local match funding.

It’s worth noting this £15 million funding - targeted at reducing carbon emissions from the transport sector- is 50% more than we had discussed with key stakeholders such as Stop Climate Chaos, and indicates our determination to rise to the challenge.

In agriculture, we have recently expanded the Farming for a Better Climate programme, and have worked with Scotland’s farmers to encourage the mutual benefits from the greening elements of the Common Agricultural Policy. The full detail of the CAP package will be announced by Cabinet Secretary, Richard Lochhead tomorrow.

It is no doubt because of this package of measures that Stop Climate Chaos Scotland this morning commented that this Government was showing “serious intent” in tackling climate change.

Our Climate Challenge Fund enables communities to take action across Scotland, and we support international action on climate justice through our Climate Justice Fund.

And it doesn’t stop there. Our new Cabinet Sub-Committee and the Climate Change Delivery Board, will develop policies and financial mechanisms to enable people, organisations and businesses to reduce their emissions while reaping other benefits.

Through Public Sector Climate Leaders Forum, we’ve committed Scottish Government to become an exemplar organisation on climate change.

Climate change is a truly global challenge. Tackling it is a moral imperative. With your support, Scotland will continue to lead by example and encourage other nations to raise their ambition.