16 august 2017

Greens call for bolder climate change approach in Scotland

by Chris Mccall, The Scotsman, Augusts 16, 2017

The Scottish Government is already a firm supporter of investment in renewable energy, but the Greens believe bolder plans are needed.

The Scottish Greens have called for a “bold” approach to tackling climate change by introducing a target date of 2040 for zero net carbon emissions north of the Border.

Current targets under the 2009 Climate Act are for greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced by 80 per cent by 2050. The Scottish Government proposes increasing this to 90 per cent but does not propose bringing forward the target date, despite what the Greens describe as “the urgency of the situation”.

The party claimed a bolder target of net zero 10 years sooner than planned would drive innovation and job creation in transport, energy and agriculture.

The Greens are urging the Scottish Government to follow the lead of other European countries already committed to becoming zero-carbon.

In June, Sweden became the first country to significantly upgrade its carbon ambitions since the Paris accord in 2015.

A new law ccommits the Swedish Government to cutting its net carbon emissions to zero by 2045. The country was previously committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

Sweden already gets 83 per cent of its electricity from nuclear energy and hydropower, having met its 2020 target of 50 per cent renewable energy eight years ahead of schedule.

The Scottish Government approach is to focus on reducing emissions through domestic effort, and ministers intend to maintain this approach in the new Climate Change Bill.

Sweden’s target for net-zero emissions by 2045 includes purchasing substantial amounts of international credits – with 85 per cent of their target will need to be met by domestic effort.

Mark Ruskell MSP, climate change spokesman for the Greens, said: “To keep the world safe from climate change, nations need to follow the science and end the fossil fuel age by 2040. Scotland can reap the jobs benefits today if we set a clear target for a 100 per cent phase out of fossils, sending the strongest signal to drive innovation in sectors from energy to transport and agriculture.

“The Scottish Government is desperate for a policy re-set. By setting out a bold target for 2030 and a Zero Carbon Target for 2040, it would leave a golden legacy for future generations.

“Greens in Government in Sweden have already set a Zero Carbon Target. We should join them in seizing this economic opportunity today.”

Sweden plans to cut domestic emissions by 85 per cent and offset remaining emissions by planting trees or investing in projects abroad.

The Scottish Government said its existing reductions target was based on scientific advice.

“Scotland has won international praise for its leadership on climate change and our plans will cut emissions further, while creating more jobs in the low carbon economy,” said climate change secretary Rosanna Cunningham.

“Our proposal for an emissions reduction target of at least 90 per cent by 2050 is based on advice from the Scottish Government’s independent scientific advisers, the UK Committee on Climate Change.

“That target is the most ambitious of the options proposed by the Committee, which advised it is stretching and will require actions currently at the very limit of feasibility.

“Our expert advisers also believe the 90 per cent target is an appropriate response to the Paris Agreement.”

It was announced this week group of about 30 Scottish supply-chain companies have come together in support of a £2 billion offshore wind farm ready to be built next year off the east coast of Scotland.

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