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Scotland beats its climate emissions reductions target 6 years ahead of schedule – 15th June

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Scotland’s climate emissions have broken through a landmark reduction target six years early, partly helped through warm winters helping to drive down energy use.

Roseanna Cunningham, the Scottish Climate Change secretary spoke about how delighted she was that the country’s emissions had fallen by nearly 46% between 1990-2014 which surpassed the government’s 2020 target of a 42% cut. This outstanding progress will be partnered with another tougher and more ambitious target to be announced in legislation later in this parliament.

Climate campaigners welcomed the progress that has been made, yet remain sceptical about the Scottish Government’s role in breaking the target – the annual emissions target was only met for the first time in 2014, yet yearly targets were introduced in 2009.

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland spokesman Jim Densham said that the symbolic goal being met early was great news and proved that greenhouse gases could be cut without harming living standards and the economy; however noted that much of the emissions reductions were due to factors outside of the Scottish Government’s control.

Densham stated “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…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”

Densham maintained that the challenge for Scotland lay within the sectors which have experienced little change to date such as transport, where emissions have stalled at 1990 levels, and housing where emissions have only reduced 1% since the Scottish Climate Change Act was passed.

Cunningham said that Scotland had exceeded the UK’s achievements, since total UK emissions had falled by 33% since 1990. The reduction in residential emissions may have been down to people turning down their heating which represents small individual actions contributing to a big impact towards tackling climate change. She noted the importance of the Paris agreement last December and that Scotland’s progress shows their ambition to show what can be achieved.

Mark Ruskell, the Scottish Green party’s climate spokesman said that if Scotland wanted to set more challenging targets for 2020, they would need more ambitious targets for transport, home energy efficiency and fuel poverty. Ruskell claimed that the current plans to cut air passenger duty by half would add 60,000 tonnes to Scotland’s growing emissions from aviation.

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