Scotland abandons 2030 decarbonisation target

The Scottish Government has scrapped its flagship target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75% of 1990 levels by 2030.

Màiri McAllan, secretary for wellbeing economy, net zero and energy, confirmed that the Holyrood government remains “steadfastly” committed to its target for Scotland to be net zero by 2045, five years ahead of the UK as a whole.

However, in a statement responding to a progress report by the Climate Change Committee (CCC), the minister said the Scottish Government accepted its verdict that the 2030 target is “out of reach”.

The CCC progress report said that annual Scottish emissions targets have been repeatedly missed over the last 12 years and the acceleration required to meet the 2030 target, which was introduced in legislation under ex-First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, is “beyond… credible”.

McAllan said the Scottish Government will expedite new legislation to introduce five-yearly carbon budgets, like those that the UK government has in place.

A package of climate change action policy measures, unveiled alongside today’s statement, includes a pledge to publish by the end of this year a new routemap for delivering approximately 24,000 additional electric vehicle charge points by 2030.

It also says the Scottish Government is considering the recommendation from the Green Heat Finance Taskforce to review and publish, by the end of 2024, analysis of how non-domestic relief rates can encourage investment in energy efficiency and zero direct emissions (or clean) heating systems.

McAllan said: “We must now act to chart a course to 2045 at a pace and scale that is feasible, fair and just.”

Professor Piers Forster, interim chair of the CCC, said the removal of Scotland’s 2030 target is “deeply disappointing”.

“We are reassured that the net zero target remains in place but interim targets and plans to deliver against them are what makes any net zero commitment credible.

“They are essential for enabling a stable transition that protects jobs and the welfare of citizens and provides new opportunities. Long term planning is vital for businesses, citizens, and future Parliaments. Today that has been undermined.”

Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “The rollback on our landmark 2030 target and wider climate change legislation is extremely disappointing.

“At this crucial time, we need to signal confidence to investors and our supply chain that Scotland is the best place in the world to build the renewable energy projects which deliver energy security, economic growth and carbon reduction at scale.

“The Scottish Government must learn the lessons of these missed targets by urgently acting on the clear recommendations of the Climate Change Committee and delivering the strong policies needed to support delivery.”

Chris Friedler, the Association for Decentralised Energy’s policy manager, added that the removal of the 75% target must not affect the government’s upcoming Heat in Buildings Bill, which includes proposals to prohibit fossil fuel heating systems by 2045 north of the border.