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27/10/15 15:33

Update on Scotland's climate change progress

Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Aileen McLeod
Scottish Parliament
27 October 2015

In 2009 this parliament acted unanimously to enshrine world leading climate change targets in legislation.

We were supported by huge numbers of people across Scotland: in business; in academia; in NGOs; in schools; in trade unions; in communities and in homes.

Through this collective high ambition we were able to establish world-leading targets of a 42 per cent cut in emissions by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050.

Scotland was also the first national government in the world to establish a climate justice fund.

I am proud of these actions and of Scotland’s ambition.

Continued ambition and action are required from all of us if we are to tackle the environmental harm and social injustices caused by climate change.

Through the recent Scottish Leaders Climate Change Pledge we have again shown our collective commitment to tackle this challenge.

And across Scotland many people are doing the same - taking action as individuals; as families; as communities and as organisations.

The Scottish Government is also committed and is leading by example.

Our Cabinet Sub Committee on Climate Change demonstrates our commitment to tackling this issue at the highest level within Government.

We have pledged around £1 billion of funding over two years for climate change action.

We have in place a comprehensive package of measures to meet our climate change targets out to 2027.

Taking action on climate change, we are investing in our people; our environment and our economy - creating a fairer and more prosperous Scotland.

We are reducing the amount of energy people use. We’re already below the consumption level required to meet our 2020 12 per cent target - 7 years ahead of schedule.

We are reducing levels of fuel poverty. Since 2009 we have allocated over half a billion pounds on a range of fuel poverty and energy efficiency programmes - with a budget of £119 million for the current financial year. And in June I announced this would be a national infrastructure priority for government.

We are reducing our dependence on fossil fuels by scaling up renewable energy - Scotland now generates almost half of its electricity demand from renewables.

And in 2014 the amount of heat generated by renewables in Scotland grew by 36 per cent.

We are focused on community and locally owned energy, last month reaching our 2020 target of 500 Megawatts of community renewables - five years early.

Across Scotland nearly 45,000 people are employed in the low carbon economy and its supply chain.

Taking action to reduce emissions from transport, compared to 2013/2014, we have increased investment in active travel by over 80 per cent.

We are committed to rail electrification. We are working with partners to deliver our Electric Vehicle Roadmap, with more electric vehicles being sold in Scotland than ever before.

We are encouraging waste reduction, extending recycling and reducing the waste to landfill. In 2014, 42.8 per cent of Scotland’s household waste was composted, recycled or reused. And for the first time, landfilling of household waste fell below 50 per cent.

Scotland is taking action locally and being recognised globally.

Christina Figueres, Head of the United Nations Climate Body, has cited Scotland’s ambition on renewables and low carbon as a “shining example” to other countries.

We have set the bar high with our world-leading targets.

Scottish Ministers have sought to push up global ambition since 2010.

For example, whilst in Lima last year, in my first days as a Minister, I signed the ‘Compact of States and Regions’, an international reporting platform for subnational governments representing 12.5 per cent of the world’s GDP and over 325 million people.

And this year when attending ‘the World Summit: Climate and Territories’ in Lyon, I signed the ‘Under2MoU’ - another initiative between sub national governments aimed at promoting high ambition ahead of Paris.

In this milestone year, the international community will have to match Scotland’s commitment if the Paris summit is to produce a truly effective global response on climate change.

We hope that the Paris summit will be a big step forward.

It’s crucial we push further to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius - or less - if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change falling on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

Although Scotland’s targets are challenging, with much still to do, I want to emphasise today that we are making good progress.

This morning I laid before parliament Scotland’s Report on Progress Towards Meeting its Interim Target.

This report shows that in each of the years from 2010 to 2013, the percentage reductions we have achieved have exceeded those set out along the trajectory to meet the 42 per cent reduction in 2020.

In fact, Scotland’s emissions have fallen by 38.4 per cent from the 1990 baseline, leaving just a further 6 per cent reduction to meet the 2020 target over the next seven years.

Scotland is clearly on track to meet its interim 2020 target.

I believe that is the message we should focus on. It’s a fantastic achievement.

Of course we know that the Act requires even greater reductions to meet the 2050 target. There is no room for complacency.

And nor will we fail to recognise the challenges in meeting Scotland’s annual targets.

I recognise that the other report I laid today shows that Scotland’s 2013 annual target has been narrowly missed, by 1.7 Megatonnes.

Once again this is because of revisions to the baseline since the time when the fixed targets were set.

I talked about that in my statement to the parliament on the publication of the 2013 Scottish Greenhouse Gas statistics in June this year.

In June, I explained that changes to the methodology for calculating emissions have added 10.6 MegaTonnes to the 1990 baseline making it harder to meet the annual target.

Despite that, Scotland’s emissions have fallen by 38.4 per cent from the baseline - far greater than the 31.7 per cent reduction envisaged when the target for 2013 was set.

Presiding Officer, had it not been for successive increases to the baseline, Scotland would have met, and exceeded, our target for 2013 - and the three previous years.

So, against the 2020 and 2050 targets Scotland is making significant progress. But we must continue to lift the pace of our actions against our fixed annual targets.

That’s why in June I announced further measures on energy efficiency, environment and transport aimed at reducing Scotland’s emissions.

As I also indicated in June, we will be ensuring climate change is a top priority through a Cabinet agreement to embed climate change in the autumn budget process.

And I remain determined that we make up for the cumulative shortfall that has resulted from Scotland’s missed annual targets.

We will do this by ensuring that RPP3 addresses this - as well as setting out measures required to reduce emissions out to 2032 - fulfilling our statutory requirements under sections 35 and 36 of the Act.

But it’s not just about government. It will take continued commitment and action by all of us if Scotland is to achieve the emissions reductions required.

That’s why the production of RPP3 will be a wide, participative process, building collective ownership and responsibility.

We will have a conversation with people across Scotland – listening to their views on climate change and the actions we must collectively take.

We have started that conversation, with events planned with community groups in the New Year.

Given the impact of decisions made now on future generations, we must give a voice to the next generation of Scottish leaders by involving the 2050 Climate Group.

And of course engaging the Scottish Parliament will be a key element, with opportunities being developed to get involved alongside regular parliamentary business.

These are just a few of the plans being put in place to make sure that RPP3 is a truly collective endeavour.

I call on this parliament to agree that commitment and action are required from all of us if Scotland is to continue to lead by example in tackling climate change.

That is the message I want us to take to Paris - demonstrating Scottish leadership and encouraging others to step-up and embrace the climate change challenge we all face.