Scotland politics

Congestion charges 'could help meet climate change targets'

Congestion charge zone in London Image copyright PA
Image caption London is one UK city with a congestion charge already in place

Congestion charges should be considered to help the Scottish government reach its climate change targets, a report has concluded.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said stronger policies were needed in transport, renewable heat, agriculture and forestry if targets were to be met.

It warned plans to cut air passenger duty by 50% could lead to increased carbon emissions.

Holyrood's Climate Change Minister Aileen McLeod welcomed the report.

She said it showed that Scotland was outperforming the UK as a whole in reducing greenhouse gases.

The CCC - which is an independent body measuring progress on the UK's environmental objectives - also called for a re-evaluation of speed limits.

The progress report for Scottish ministers confirmed Scotland missed its target for emissions in 2012, the third time an annual target had not been met.

Net emissions in 2012 were 55.67 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), compared to the target of 53.226 million.

The report found Scotland performed better than the UK as a whole and made good progress in areas including renewable electricity generation capacity and installing community and locally-owned energy projects.

However, it highlighted that transport emissions accounted for 21% of Scotland's total and said the Scottish government should consider other options to drive the figure down.

Behaviour change

The report said: "To encourage behaviour change, it may be necessary to explore other options such as congestion charging.

"Congestion charging has been successful in reducing the amount of vehicles on the roads in two UK cities."

The CCC also found Scotland was not on track to meet its renewable heat target to source 11% of demand from renewable sources by 2020.

CCC chief executive Matthew Bell said: "I have met with a large number of stakeholders in Scotland over recent months.

"Without exception they have commented positively on the ambition of the Scottish greenhouse gas reduction targets.

"That ambition means they are difficult to meet but also places Scotland among the leaders in the world."

Tom Ballantine, chairman of the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland coalition, said: "This report today from the government's own advisers is the fourth time they have advised that the Scottish government needs to do much more to meet legal requirements on greenhouse gas emissions and deliver the benefits of a low carbon economy.

"With the strongest call yet from their own advisers to do more to reduce emissions, it's time for the Scottish government to heed these repeated calls and take urgent action now to deliver on Scotland's vitally important climate commitments."

'World leader'

Climate Change Minister Aileen McLeod said: "I welcome this progress report from the Committee on Climate Change, which shows that Scotland is outperforming the UK as a whole in reducing greenhouse gases as a result of the innovative and effective action we are taking to achieve Scotland's climate change targets, which are the most ambitious in the world.

"The report also emphasises the good progress that Scotland is making against our targets - particularly in relation to renewable energy - and recognises the challenges we are facing as a result of improvements in calculating estimated emissions.

"Although we have already made substantial progress, the Scottish government is stepping up climate change action and we have put in place a comprehensive package of policies and measures to meet our emission reduction targets."

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