Scotland is outperforming the rest of the UK in reducing greenhouse gas emissions – but success in areas such as energy and waste is masking a lack of action in other sectors, a report has said.
Total emissions fell by 10% in 2016 compared to 2015, and were 49% below 1990 levels, the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) 2018 Progress Report to the Scottish Parliament showed.
Some 17.8% of Scotland’s total energy came from renewable sources that year, outperforming the UK overall and putting the country ahead of the EU average of 16.7%.
But while good progress has been made in decarbonising the power sector and reducing emissions from waste, there has been a lack of progress in other sectors such as transport and agriculture, the report warned.
The Scottish Government’s new Climate Change Bill sets a target of reducing emissions by 90% by 2050 – but the committee said achieving this would only be possible if effective policy was extended to other sectors of the Scottish economy.
Lord Deben, chairman of the CCC, said: “Decarbonisation of Scotland’s electricity sector, and reductions in emissions from waste, have seen Scotland outperform the UK overall as emissions continue to fall year-on-year to nearly half of 1990 levels.
“The Scottish Government has made some progress on tackling issues raised in the committee’s report in 2017. However, challenges remain.”
He added: “Achieving a 90% cut in emissions by 2050, as envisaged within the new Climate Change Bill, means greater effort is now required across other areas of Scotland’s economy. This includes policies to drive down emissions in sectors where they are either flat or rising, such as transport, agriculture and energy efficiency in buildings.
“Without real action in these areas, Scotland may fall short of its long-term goals.”
Experts said the latest drop in emissions was driven by electricity generation, and urged the Government to move its strategy forward following the closure of Scotland’s final coal plant, Longannet.
Emissions from agriculture, forestry and land use present “substantial challenges”, the report said, as they rely on voluntary measures for agriculture as well as uncertain funding for targets for tree planting and peatland restoration.
It also said a clear plan for rolling out electric vehicle charging infrastructure was needed to ensure the Government’s 100% take-up target is achieved by 2032.