The debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament

Scotland abandons 2030 emissions targets

Scotland has scrapped its annual climate change targets, accepting the findings of the Climate Change Committee’s report, which said the nation would not meet its statutory goal to reduce emissions by 75 per cent by 2030.

The CCC said last month (March 2024) that Scotland did not have a comprehensive strategy to decarbonise towards net zero and that delays meant that there were insufficient actions or policies to reach that target. It missed its annual target for 2021: the eighth time in the past 12 years that this has happened.

The CCC’s interim chair Piers Forster said then: “Scotland has laudable ambitions to decarbonise, but it isn’t enough to set a target; the government must act. There are risks in all reviewed areas, including those with significant policy powers devolved to the Scottish government.”

A new route map has been set out by Màiri McAllan, Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Net Zero and Energy. She said: “We accept the CCC’s recent re-articulation that this Parliament’s interim 2030 target is out of reach. We must now act to chart a course to 2045 at a pace and scale that is feasible, fair and just.

“… the Scottish government will bring forward expedited legislation to address matters raised by the CCC and ensure our legislative framework better reflects the reality of long-term climate policymaking.

“The narrowly drawn Bill will retain our legal commitment to 2045 alongside annual reporting on progress, whilst introducing a target approach based on five-yearly carbon budgets.”

Commenting on the move, Fiona Hodgson, chief executive of the Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation (SNIPEF), called for a comprehensive reset of policy, engagement and targets. “The 2030 targets, which always seemed more driven by the pursuit of headlines than establishing a meaningful, step-by-step roadmap towards the 2045 climate goals, were sadly and predictably abandoned due to their unrealistic ambitions and the lack of a realistic plan to support them,” she said.

“This approach has inevitably led to their failure and fostered uncertainty among businesses and the public about the feasibility of future targets.”

Ms Hodgson urged the government to pause and reset, and to take a more inclusive approach with stakeholders, industry experts and community representatives from the outset. She said future targets should be based on detailed, sector-specific knowledge. “These targets should not be arbitrary or merely top-down, reverse-engineered mandates but should be collaboratively developed, realistic and achievable objectives with clear steps and milestones.”

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