Climate Change Challenge

As the Durban Climate Change conference looks likely to fail to get powerful commitments on firm action to tackle climate change, Audit Scotland has published a timely review of the Scottish Government’s likely success in achieving Scotland’s 42% reduction by 2020.

They call the Scottish Government’s predicted reductions “optimistic” and recommend a more transparent process of reporting on emissions targets.    The irony is that one of the measures which the Scottish Government are aiming to deliver, namely a tenfold increase in the proportion of trips made by cycling, is undermined by the cut in funding for sustainable travel to fund electric cars.

As the Audit Scotland Report says “After the production and supply of energy, transport is the second largest source of Scottish emissions.  With the exception of transport, emissions from all Scottish sources of greenhouse gases decreased between 1990 and 2009.  Emissions from transport rose by 3.7%”.   Tuesday’s announcement on infrastructure projects showed that the Scottish Government don’t get the scale of the task required to meet their own targets.   By 2050, the Scottish Government is aiming for virtually no emissions from road transport, with significant progress made by 2030 through using electric vehicles.

Lack of progress at EU level will mean the Scottish Government has to do a lot more to meet its 42% target.   I’ve been arguing for much more transparency and accountability over the Scottish Government’s plans.   When any government claims they are reducing climate emissions we need to know we can trust them and interrogate the figures.   

The Scottish Government is also relying on meeting its 2020 target of 42% on the back of the EU raising its 2020 targets from 20% to 30%.   However the EU voted against this in July this year.  This means Scottish Government will have to do more than it has currently planned to meet its own target.

Although there’s progress on large-scale renewables electricity, Scotland is way behind other countries on solar panels and the UK Government cut in Feed in tariff funding will push the industry into reverse gear.   This week environmental campaigners sent a strong message to the UK Government that the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement was a disaster for the environment.   They didn’t mince their words, saying the Tory led Coalition Government was on track to be the most environmentally destructive Government to hold power in the UK.  This in the week when the UK’s CO2 emissions jumped – in the middle of recession.

The challenge is not just talking about climate change but making the decisions now that will make the difference.