Scottish Government scraps 2030 climate change target to reduce emissions by 75%

Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing, Economy, Net Zero and Energy Mairi McAllan
Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing, Economy, Net Zero and Energy Mairi McAllan (right) Credit: PA

The Scottish Government has confirmed it is ditching a climate change target to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030, but maintains it still intends to meet a 2045 net zero goal.

The move came in response to a report published last month by the independent Climate Change Committee (CCC) that said Scotland was too far behind meeting the target, making it no longer credible.

The Scottish Government has missed eight of the last 12 yearly targets on emissions.

Addressing Holyrood on Thursday, Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan said she accepted the CCC's criticism but lay the blame at the feet of Rishi Sunak's government.

She was also forced to apologise after elements of her environmental statement were reported by the media ahead of its delivery in the Scottish Parliament.

Ms McAllan told MSPs: “In this challenging context of cuts, UK backtracking, we accept the Climate Change Committee’s recent re-articulation that this parliament’s interim 2030 target is out of reach.

"We must now act to chart a course to 2045 at a pace and scale that is feasible, fair and just.

“With this in mind, I can today confirm that, working with parliament on a timetable, the Scottish Government will bring forward expedited legislation to address matters raised by the Climate Change Committee, and ensure our legislative framework better reflects the reality of long-term climate policymaking.

“The narrowly drawn Bill will retain our legal commitment to 2045 alongside annual reporting on progress, while introducing a target approach based on five-yearly carbon budgets."

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Speaking earlier during First Minister’s Questions, Humza Yousaf did not dispute that the interim target will be scrapped.

Instead, he reaffirmed his government’s commitment to achieving net zero by 2045.

“This government will not move back by a single month, a week or even a day from that 2045 target for achieving net zero,” he said.

“Let’s be clear, the CCC were always clear with us that the 2030 target was a stretch target. That was clear to all of us when we all committed, we all backed that target in the first place.

“But what doesn’t change, and what won’t change, is that end destination of 2045.”

As part of that, Ms McAllan announced a “new package of climate action measures”, pledging the Scottish Government would work to treble the number of charging points available for electric vehicles, in a bid to encourage more people to switch away from petrol and diesel.

This could lead to approximately 24,000 additional charge points being installed across the country by 2030, the Net Zero Secretary added.

And to encourage more people to ditch cars, she added the government would “explore a new national integrated ticketing system for public transport in Scotland”.

Promising pilot projects to reduce emissions from agriculture and accelerate peatland restoration, Ms McAllan insisted there was “no doubt about the seriousness with which this government treats the climate and nature crisis”.

However, she said the “severe budgetary restrictions imposed by the UK government” and the “continuing constraints of devolution”, meant the Scottish Government was trying to “deliver societal and economic transformation with one hand tied behind our back”.

Scotland First Minister Humza Yousaf. Credit: PA

And she warned “full delivery” of the Scottish Government’s plans would depend on Westminster “reversing the 9% cut to our capital budget”.

The Scottish Conservatives said scrapping the interim goal will be an “abject humiliation” for the SNP and Green Government at Holyrood.

Net zero spokesman Douglas Lumsden said: “For all the boasting about their supposed environmental credentials, the reality is a succession of missed targets – and being forced to throw in the towel on this flagship pledge represents the biggest failure of the lot.

“This climbdown is not a surprise, given the damning report from the Climate Change Committee, but it is symptomatic of a nationalist coalition that routinely over-promises and under-delivers.”

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