Letter to Scottish Climate Change Minister regarding annual emissions targets

  • 10 Apr 2014
  • General News

SCCS letter to Scottish Climate Change Minister: Paul Wheelhouse MSP

Dear Minister,

Why Scotland needs to focus on meeting existing annual emissions targets

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland members are concerned that the Committee on Climate Change has raised the option of reducing our world-leading annual emissions reduction targets, set in law under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, instead of ensuring we meet those targets.

There are a number of reasons for maintaining the currently legislated targets.

Firstly and most importantly, having rightly attracted the attention of the world for Scotland’s Climate Change Act and our commitment to climate justice, reducing the level of ambition would send entirely the wrong message globally and domestically as we look towards the UN negotiations in Paris in 2015.  The need for positive, progressive examples of climate action is all the more important in the wake of the IPCC’s latest report setting out the risks of a warming world.

Secondly, certainty about the long-term emissions trajectory and policy landscape is essential for business to commit significant investments to Scotland’s burgeoning low-carbon economy and to spur low-carbon research and innovation.  Parliamentary-wide commitment to the Act and the targets in Scotland have been a critical lever for creating a positive investment climate.  Given the uncertainties at UK level, we urge the Scottish Government to stick to its ambitious emissions targets, so that we reap the benefits of a low-carbon transition.

Thirdly, the 2050 and interim target set under the Act are the minimum that is required if Scotland is to play our fair part in tackling climate change: reductions of at least 42% by 2020 and at least 80% by 2050 compared to the baseline year.  As you are aware, these targets were set according to scientific advice on the minimum emissions reductions required of rich countries if the world is to avoid an increase in global temperatures of 2 degrees C.

What matters in relation to climate change is the total cumulative amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.  Part 4 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 has ensured that the annual targets have been set in accordance with the fair and safe cumulative emissions budget.

We welcome your support for maintaining the ambition of the 4th Carbon Budget in the context of the UK Government’s review and particularly welcome your statement last December that the Scottish Government remains “steadfast in our commitment to our targets, which will outperform the current UK target for 2020, and we will continue to support efforts to secure an ambitious global deal on climate change in 2015.”

The Scottish Government still has a wealth of additional policy options, in RPP2 and beyond, at its disposal for reducing emissions now and in the immediate future.  Therefore we encourage Ministers across all portfolios to look for additional measures to meet existing targets, as recommended by the UK Committee on Climate Change.  This can ensure that future targets are achieved rather than diverting attention and effort towards lowering targets.

Creating a low carbon Scotland offers many opportunities for people across Scotland: warmer homes, healthier transport options, green jobs and less air pollution.  Doing more to reduce emissions need not be viewed as a negative burden but as a positive opportunity.

We urge you not to amend Scotland’s world-leading annual emissions targets.

Yours sincerely,

Tom Ballantine
Chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland