City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Climate Change Bill Heralds Greener Scotland

By edg - Posted on 06 December 2008

Scottish Minister of the Environment Michael Russell does his bit for climate change

The Scottish Government published its Climate Change Bill yesterday. The Bill lays out a legal framework for ambitious reductions of Scottish greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) of 80% below 1990 levels* by 2050.

The bill was praised by climate change scientists for including all six GHGs as well as emissions from international aviation and shipping.

The inclusion of mandatory annual targets from 2010 to 2050 with reductions of "at least" 3% per year from 2020 was also welcomed. However, opposition MSPs criticised the 44-page bill for not including more specific targets in the earlier years (see below) and a lack of detail for the solutions.

"Setting targets is not an end in itself, it is delivery that matters," said the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change, Stewart Stevenson. "This is why we are developing a range of short, medium and long term policy options to drive the changes needed to meet our ambitious targets. These options will be published next year."

He added, "As a Government we are determined to have carbon assessment at the heart of our decision making. We are breaking new ground with our carbon assessment project which will ensure climate change impacts are considered in future budgets and spending decisions."

Over 21,000 responses were received to the Scottish Government's consultation on a climate change bill.

Mike Robinson, Chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, a coalition of non-governmental organisations welcomed the bill.

"This Bill could be the most significant for a generation and is warmly welcomed by the members of more than 30 of Scotland's most respected organisations campaigning on climate change."

He added: "We call upon MSPs from all parties to back strong measures already in the bill, and to work constructively to improve it further so it becomes genuinely world leading legislation."

The difficulty is that the 2050 target is so far off that most of the law's creators will not be around to see if it is ever reached.

Scotland's GHG Emissions Reductions Targets

By 2050, 80% reduction in GHG emissions below 1990 levels*

By 2030, 50% reduction in GHG emissions below 1990 levels*

Between 2020 and 2050, "at least 3% less than the target for the preceding year"

Between 2009 and 2019, reduce GHG emissions to "an amount that is less than the target for the preceding year"

The Scottish Climate Change Bill includes:

  • details on how emissions reductions must be monitored with annual reports and updates on whether targets have been reached and future targets are achievable
  • details of how to off-set Scottish GHG emissions using carbon credits, with the option of creating a body for keeping track of the Scottish carbon account based on accepted international standards
  • international aviation and shipping GHG emissons "that are attributable to Scotland"
  • external public advisory and policy review body, Scottish Committee on Climate Change, of 5 to 8 experts, plus chair, from business and scientific fields
  • more stringent control of muirburn (controlled burning of heather, grass and moorland)
  • framework for leasing quarter of state forests to private sector (e.g. for carbon offset initiatives)
  • impetus for greater energy efficiency, through education and regulation and upgrades
  • tighter controls on waste and greater incentives for reuse and recycling
  • tighter recycling regulations covering single events
  • introducing targets and initiatives to reduce packaging and reduction of GHGs produced by packaging
  • introduction of deposit and return schemes, where you pay a refundable fee on reusable packaging such as glass bottles
  • charges for supplying carrier bags

* The baseline for GHGs varies. 1995 is baseline for perfluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride, and hydrofluorocarbons. For the main one Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous hydrofluorocarbons it's 1990.