Net zero Scotland by 2045: strict new emissions targets set

net zero scotland
© iStock/matthewleesdixon

The Scottish Parliament has approved legislation committing to a ‘net zero’ Scotland by 2045, five years ahead of the rest of the UK.

The new Climate Change Bill, which was approved unanimously by MSPs last week, was drawn up in line with the recommendations of the independent UK Committee on Climate Change. It commits the Scottish government to a target of producing net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, with ministers compelled to produce annual reports on the efforts of each sector to cut emissions. A Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change is to be established, with the goal of producing recommendations on measures to ensure a net zero Scotland.

Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “Our new Climate Change Bill demonstrates what international leadership on climate action means. Not only are we setting legally binding targets to reduce emissions to net zero in direct response to the Paris Agreement, we are also putting in place the most stringent framework of statutory targets of any country in the world. We have already almost halved emissions since 1990. The second half of Scotland’s journey to net zero emissions will, undoubtedly, require different, and in many cases much more difficult, choices than has been the case to date but it is clear people across Scotland want to see action. No one should be in any doubt of the Scottish Government’s commitment to use every policy lever at our disposal to rise to this challenge.”

The net zero Scotland legislation features an interim target of reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 70% by 2030: this is the strictest statutory target set by any country worldwide. The Scottish government intends to commission further advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change to ensure its efforts to cut emissions are both effective and based on scientific evidence.

Secretary Cunningham added: “Our end target is firmly based on what we are told is the limit of what can currently be achieved.  It is the maximum possible ambition based upon the best available science and requires the UK to take action to meet their targets if Scotland is to meet ours. In the interim, while there is some uncertainty over the precise route that can be taken, we believe it is right to be as ambitious as possible to drive the action required to make the changes we need. If parliament backs this legislation, we will seek further advice from the Committee on Climate Change and publish an update to our 2018-2032 Climate Change Plan showing the pathway to our targets out to 2032 within six months of the bill receiving royal assent. We will do so based on the principles of just transition and shared national endeavour. Our journey to becoming a net zero society must leave no one behind – we must take it together.”

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