Scotland Retreats on ‘Out of Reach’ 2030 Climate Change Target

(Bloomberg) -- The Scottish government scrapped a plan to cut carbon emissions by 75% by 2030, conceding the target is unachievable and that it needs to recalibrate its approach to tackling climate change.

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Addressing the Holyrood Parliament in Edinburgh on Thursday, the Scottish National Party’s net zero secretary, Mairi McAllan, said the government remains committed to eliminating greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, but would have to devise a new pathway to get there.

The move comes a month after the UK Climate Change Committee warned Scotland is unlikely to reach its 2030 goal to slash emissions by three quarters from 1990 levels because the required acceleration in cuts isn’t “credible.”

Outlining a swath of measures to tackle emissions from vehicles and agriculture, as well as a new system of carbon budgets, McAllan sought to blame cuts in funding from the central UK government for the retreat.

“We are being held back,” McAllan said. “We are trying to achieve societal and economic transformation with one hand tied behind the back.”

The announcement may also damage relations with the Scottish Green Party, which participates in the Scottish government after agreeing a power-sharing arrangement with the SNP in 2021. The agreement they reached includes a pledge to take steps “to accelerate our transition to net zero.”

McAllan didn’t say what target will replace the 2030 goal, instead announcing plans to introduce a system of five-year budgets that — if modeled on the UK national approach — would set out the total amount of carbon Scotland could emit over successive five-year periods through to 2045.

She promised to publish the government’s final energy strategy “this summer,” and also announced plans to:

  • roll out an additional 24,000 electric vehicle charging points by 2024, quadrupling the total in order to ease “range anxiety” among drivers

  • explore setting up a Scotland-wide integrated ticketing system for all public transport

  • publish a route map to cut car use by 20%

  • pilot a program to roll out methane-suppressing food products and additives to cut emissions from livestock

  • consult on a new carbon land tax for large estates

  • require farms receiving public support to hold carbon audits by 2028

“We accept the CCC’s recent re-articulation that this Parliament’s interim 2030 target is out of reach,” McAllan said. “We must now act to chart a course to 2045 at a pace and a scale that is feasible, fair and just.”

--With assistance from Ellen Milligan.

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