A new report suggests immediate action aimed at achieving net zero carbon can still offer a significant economic opportunity for Scotland.
According to Transport In Scotland: The Road to Net Zero, published by international law firm Addleshaw Goddard, sector contributors were extremely positive about committing to decarbonising Scotland’s transport sector.
However, they believe the biggest obstacle to change is the issue of identifying where the necessary levels of investment will be coming from.
Transport is the highest emitting sector in Scotland, with 37% of total emissions, when including aviation and shipping.
Contributors to the report agreed there is “need for a co-ordinated policy framework” that reviews “how transport provision interacts today and how these inter-relationships should be improved.”
The report further noted worrying transport and aviation trends, including the total distance travelled by road vehicles in Scotland increasing at an average of 1.7% per year since 2011.
Aviation emissions meanwhile grew 6% in 2017 to 2.1 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) and are now 56% higher than 1990 levels.
Professor Graeme Roy, director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, who contributed to the report, said: “With both the UK and Scottish governments clearly committed to net zero, decarbonising transport will be at the economic front-line of the transition.
“Some of the adjustment will concentrate upon changing the nature of transport… but it seems highly likely that achieving net zero will also require a significant reduction in day-to-day journeys for business and leisure.
“Designing a framework that supports growth and this transition will require a careful balance.”
Carrie Armstrong, partner at Addleshaw Goddard in Scotland, said: “The report confirms that there is huge optimism among Scotland’s transport industry and a will to recognise the enormous economic development opportunity that net zero offers.
“This includes opportunities to reskill existing workforces, promoting international investment into carbon reduction technology and infrastructure in Scotland, while redeploying the country’s significant experience in renewables, engineering, onshore
and offshore energy extraction.
“Nevertheless, the overwhelming message is that billions of pounds of investment is needed to deliver net zero in line with the targets set by both the Scottish and the UK Governments.”