Scotland politics

Scotland exceeds emissions targets - six years early

wind turbines Image copyright Getty Images

Scotland has exceeded a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42% - six years early.

New statistics show its 2014 emission levels were 45.8% lower than in 1990.

The Scottish government had set a target to reduce emissions by at least 42% by 2020, and 80% by 2050.

Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham welcomed the "outstanding progress" and confirmed that the government would now set a "new and more testing 2020 target".

Figures published on the Scottish government's website also revealed that Scotland met its annual climate change targets for the first time since 2010.

But environmental campaigners said the loss of heavy industry and warm winters contributed more to the cut in emissions than bold government policy.

'Take action'

Ms Cunningham said a reduction in residential emissions in 2014 may have been due to something as simple as people turning down their heating.

"This underlines that small individual actions, if repeated on a large scale, can have a big impact in tackling climate change," she said.

The minister added: "This is an especially important time for climate change, in light of the international agreement reached in Paris last December and it is great news that Scotland continues to show ambition and demonstrates the progress that can be made.

"We will continue to rise to the challenge and the first minister has already confirmed that the Scottish government plans to establish a new and more testing 2020 target.

"We are not complacent and we will continue to take action and encourage others to do their bit to tackle climate change."

Image copyright Scottish government

The government said the statistics showed that Scotland had outperformed the rest of the UK as a whole.

There was a 39.5% drop in Scottish source emissions between 1990 and 2014, compared to the UK's 33% reduction over the same period.

Jim Densham, of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, said it was "great news" that Scotland had hit its target and it proved it was possible to cut emissions "while building a progressive and productive society".

"However apart from the electricity and waste sectors, it's hard to see a bold fingerprint of Scottish government policy driving the transition to a zero carbon economy," he said.

"This target has been met because of the loss of heavy industry, warmer winter weather, our changing share of European emissions credits and some government policies.

"Individual action is important but the Scottish government needs to lead with the big policies for major emission reductions."

Stretch targets

The Scottish Greens' climate change spokesman Mark Ruskell said the figures show things are "moving in the right direction".

But he added: "Transport remains the Scottish government's weak spot, with road traffic back to where it was in 2007 and the hugely-polluting aviation sector doubling its impact.

"If we're to stretch our climate targets further, ministers are going to have to transform their policies and budgets, and the Scottish Greens stand ready to help them make those changes."

Claudia Beamish, of Scottish Labour, said it was "no time to be resting on laurels", despite the welcome news.

She urged the government to target a 56% reduction in emissions by 2020 and to aspire to generate 50% of "our heat and transport demand" from renewables by 2030.

In March this year, the UN climate change secretary praised Scotland's progress on climate change as "exemplary".

Christiana Figueres told BBC Scotland that she was impressed by the pace of change, and described the reduction in emissions since 1990 as "quite impressive".

The Scottish government will give a ministerial statement on greenhouse gas emissions at about 14:20, watch it live at Holyrood Live.

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