The Scottish government is being urged to set out a net zero compliant plan before the end of the year – becoming the first UK nation to do so.
In the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) 2020 Progress Report to the Scottish Parliament, it stated how Scotland is in a “unique position” to outline plans for a green recovery when it publishes its updated Climate Change Plan in December.
This plan must be consistent with achieving net zero by 2045, put Scotland on the path to deliver meaningful reductions outside of the power sector and help Scotland to build a resilient recovery from COVID-19.
The country – which is aiming for a 2045 net zero – saw renewable generation triple and fossil fuel generation fall by over 70% in the last decade.
However, over the same period emissions in the other sectors of the Scottish economy fell by just 14%. The country missed its annual emissions target in 2018 and is only likely to meet its 2020 target due to the lockdown temporarily constraining emissions, the CCC said.
It has therefore released a series of priorities for the Scottish government, which includes accelerating investments in low carbon and climate adaption infrastructure to stimulate the economy, build long-term productive capacity and improve climate resilience.
Other priorities include setting out a vision for the future of low carbon heating, and ensuring electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and other enabling measures are in place to remove the need to buy an internal combustion engine vehicle by 2032.
More progress is needed to support EV charging for those without off-street parking, for shared car parks and renters, the CCC said.
A UK Emissions Trading System that is aligned to net zero should also be developed in partnership with the UK government, Welsh government and Northern Ireland Executive.
Lord Deben, chairman of the CCC, said that whilst Scotland faces the “extraordinary challenge” of COVID-19, “we must not lose sight of the climate crisis”.
“Scotland can no longer rely on electricity generation to reduce its emissions, so it must begin to make more meaningful progress in the other sectors of the economy.
“To reach net-zero emissions ahead of the rest of the UK and to earn its stripes as an international climate leader when the world looks to Glasgow next year, decisive action and clear policies are urgently required.”
COP26 is set to take place in November 2021 in Glasgow, following the event being pushed back due to COVID-19.