Climate Change Comittee Reports: 22 Dec 2022: Scottish Parliament debates – Auto Republish

23 Mar 2021: Scottish Parliament debates

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I thank the Climate Change Committee for the two documents published on 7 December: its latest annual Scottish progress report and its first five-yearly review of Scotland’s emissions targets, as set out by Parliament in the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019.

The reports recognise many areas of progress and welcome Scotland’s extraordinary ambition regarding climate change. However, we cannot ignore the fact that elements of the committee’s advice make for difficult reading. It is evident that we are entering a very challenging part of our journey to net zero and that deep cuts to our emissions will be required over the course of this decade. We are committed to rising to that challenge and ending Scotland’s contribution to climate change by 2045.

Members are aware of the scale and urgency of the climate emergency. That was why the Scottish Parliament rightly passed extremely ambitious targets for Scotland to reduce emissions by 75 per cent by 2030—going beyond the target level proposed by the Climate Change Committee—and to reach net zero by 2045. Today, we are more than halfway to net zero. That is a record that we should take pride in, especially as we are ahead of the United Kingdom as a whole in delivering long-term emissions reductions.

However, we must be prepared for the possibility that the 2021 emissions statistics, due to be published next June, will show a rebound caused by the lifting of Covid restrictions in 2021. Significant sources of peatland emissions will also be brought within the scope of the report for the first time when next year’s report uses the most up-to-date set of inventory methods. As recognised by the Climate Change Committee, that will create significant challenges in meeting already ambitious statutory targets during the 2020s.

The emissions cuts required to meet future targets will involve genuinely transformative decisions for Scotland. Significant long-term investment, demand management and behavioural change will all be required. Similar decisions are being faced across the world. It is our responsibility to help Scotland make that transition and to continue demonstrating our well-respected global reputation for action on climate change.

The transition to net zero is not only an environmental imperative but an economic opportunity. We have seen great successes in our renewables sector. ScotWind, for example, represents the world’s largest commercial round for floating offshore wind. Yesterday, we published our final onshore wind policy statement, setting out our ambition to deploy 20GW of onshore wind by 2030. Those successes must be replicated in other sectors as we harness the opportunities that the transition will bring to Scotland. In January, we will publish our energy strategy just transition plan and our renewables sector export plan.

We agree with the Climate Change Committee that co-operation with the UK Government is key to realising both Scotland’s ambitions and the full potential of Scotland’s contribution to the UK-wide decarbonisation plans. Given the significant powers reserved to Westminster, including on energy infrastructure, taxation and borrowing, Scottish ministers will continue discussing with UK Government ministers how we can ensure that our plans progress at the speed that we all require.

Turning back to the report, I note that the CCC has highlighted areas where we are making significant progress but we clearly need to go further, including buildings, peatland restoration and transport.

I am pleased that the CCC recognises Scotland’s ambition to decarbonise buildings much faster than the UK as a whole, as well as our substantial funding commitments and progress on enabling measures. Heating our homes and workplaces causes 20 per cent of Scotland’s emissions. We will not achieve our net zero target without ending our use of gas boilers. We are therefore stepping up our investment to accelerate deployment of heat and energy efficiency measures and support those who are least able to pay. We will allocate at least £1.8 billion over the current session of Parliament.

That funding is supporting a range of alternatives to fossil fuel heating, such as heat pumps, and measures to install better insulation. That is making homes easier and more affordable to heat, especially for those who need that help the most. The funding will also support investment in heat networks and ensuring that all our public sector buildings can move to zero emission heat.

Next year, we will consult on a heat in buildings bill that will require all homes and buildings across Scotland to use net zero emission heating systems by 2045. Next year will also see the launch of our public engagement strategy to make people aware of what we are proposing to do, why it matters so much and what it will mean in practice.

On transport, our second strategic transport projects review, which was published just two weeks ago, confirms that the era of catering for unconstrained growth in private car use is well and truly over. The review follows the sustainable investment hierarchy, which aims to reduce the need to travel unsustainably and prioritises making best use of and enhancing existing infrastructure before we invest in new capacity.

Furthermore, in our draft route map, we have set out how we will reduce car kilometres by 20 per cent by 2030—a truly world-leading commitment that demonstrates our level of ambition in meeting Scotland’s statutory targets. The Scottish Government has commissioned research to explore demand management options to discourage car use. Using the research findings, we will work with local and regional partners to develop a demand management framework by 2025.

We have committed to fully decarbonise passenger rail services in Scotland by 2035. We have pledged at least £320 million a year by 2024-25 for active travel infrastructure, access to bikes and behaviour change. We have awarded £25 million of bus priority funding to 11 partnerships covering 28 local authorities. We have also awarded £28 million of funding over the next four years to support innovation to decarbonise heavy vehicles, including through the use of battery and hydrogen technologies.

We have committed some £250 million to restoring 250,000 hectares of degraded peatlands by 2030, including £26 million for the next financial year. Through supporting good green jobs in the rural economy, that investment will also play a part in Scotland’s just transition to net zero by 2045. We have delivered around 57,000 hectares of restored peatland to date. That is good progress, but we know that we must go much further. We are working hard with delivery partners to tackle the barriers to upscaling peatland restoration. Our delivery forecast for this year estimates that we will achieve a 65 per cent increase in peatland restoration rates compared with last year.

I turn to the Climate Change Committee’s advice on targets. The committee has suggested that the annual targets throughout the 2020s should be changed for technical reasons to align with the revised greenhouse gas inventory. I advise Parliament that we will consider that advice in the round and respond to it as soon as possible.

In conclusion, Presiding Officer, we are making good and steady progress in what will be a very difficult journey, and we welcome the advice from the Climate Change Committee to help us along. As part of our continuous review of policy, we will work closely with the Climate Change Committee to ensure that we benefit fully from its expertise, while progressing delivery and considering possible new actions. The Climate Change Committee’s advice will also support the development of the next climate change plan, which we have committed to publishing in draft no later than November 2023.

The Scottish ministers will now take the appropriate time to consider the recommendations in the CCC’s advice, and we will respond in the spring of next year.

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Resident-led action group seeking redress from the long-term social, health and environmental impacts from the Mossmorran facilities in Central Fife operated by ExxonMobil (Fife Ethylene Plant) and Shell (Fife NGL).


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