The Scottish government has unveiled legislation to turn the north of the border into a net zero greenhouse gas emission zone by 2045.

The Holyrood administration announced today (2 May) that it has lodged amendments to the Climate Change Bill to set a legally binding target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 “at the latest”.

The target means that the only emissions are from fields such as aviation, which are more difficult to decarbonise and can be offset by measures like planting more trees to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

The move implements the advice of the UK Climate Change Committee (CCC), which recommended in its landmark report published earlier today that Scotland has the capability to become net zero five years earlier than the rest of the UK.

Under the Scottish government’s revised timetable for reaching the net zero target, Scotland will reduce its emissions to 70 per cent of 1990 levels by 2030 and 90 per cent by 2040.

The Scottish government claims that both are “most ambitious” statutory targets in the world for these years.

Greg Clark, secretary of state for business in the Westminster government, has pledged legislation to adopt the CCC’s recommendation that 2050 should be the target date for the UK as a whole to become net zero but has said it will not happen “immediately”.

Roseanna Cunningham, climate change secretary in the Scottish government, said: “There is a global climate emergency and people across Scotland have been calling, rightly, for more ambition to tackle it and safeguard our planet for future generations.

“Having received independent, expert advice that even higher targets are now possible, and given the urgency required on this issue, I have acted immediately to set a target for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for 2045 which will see Scotland become carbon neutral by 2040.

“I have been consistently clear that our targets must be ambitious, credible and responsible. We must take an evidence-based approach and balance our climate, economic and social responsibilities.

“We have already halved greenhouse gas emissions from Scotland while growing the economy, so we know we can do it.

“I am committed to meeting the most ambitious targets possible and doing so while continuing to build an inclusive and fair economy.

“Every single one of us now needs to take more action – not just the Scottish government but also all businesses, schools, communities, individuals and organisations. The UK government must also act.”

The CCC’s recommended targets for Scotland are contingent on the UK government adopting a net-zero greenhouse gas emission goal for 2050, which Cunningham urged the Westminster government to do.

She said: “We can, and we must, end our contribution to climate change. I invite everyone to accept the advice we’ve received and work with us in a just and fair transition to a net-zero economy.”

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