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Scottish Government scraps ‘world-leading’ 2030 climate target



The Scottish Government has abandoned its “world-leading” target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2030.

The news, which was leaked to the media on Wednesday night, was confirmed by the wellbeing economy, energy and net zero secretary during a statement to Holyrood on Thursday.

Màiri McAllan said she was “disappointed” to announce the decision but said Scotland would remain a “world leader” in climate change action.

Ministers have missed eight of the last 12 legally-binding goals to reduce emissions and last month the independent Climate Change Committee said Scotland’s 2030 target was no longer credible. 

Humza Yousaf said earlier on Thursday that the target of reaching of net zero carbon emissions by 2045 will remain.

McAllan also announced an investigation into how the news about the climate targets being scrapped was leaked to the media.

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Ministers will bring forward legislation to ensure the climate change target “better reflects the reality of long-term climate policymaking”, McAllan told MSPs.

This will also see the Scottish Government move away from legally binding annual targets.

While progress in reducing emissions will continue to be reported annually, McAllan said Scotland would move to a “target approach based on five-yearly carbon budgets” – saying by making this change the country would be adopting the same approach as the UK and Welsh Governments.

Scotland’s target to reach net-zero emissions by 2045 – five years earlier than the UK – will remain, the net zero secretary added.

McAllan described the move to scrap the 2030 goal as a “narrow” and “minor legislative amendment”.

As part of that, she announced a “new package of climate action measures”, pledging the Scottish Government would work to treble the number of charging points available for electric vehicles, in a bid to encourage more people to switch away from petrol and diesel.

This could lead to approximately 24,000 additional charge points being installed across the country by 2030, the Net Zero Secretary added.

And to encourage more people to ditch cars, she added the Government would “explore a new national integrated ticketing system for public transport in Scotland”.

Promising pilot projects to reduce emissions from agriculture and accelerate peatland restoration, Ms McAllan insisted there was “no doubt about the seriousness with which this Government treats the climate and nature crisis”.

However, she said the “severe budgetary restrictions imposed by the UK Government” and the “continuing constraints of devolution”, meant the Scottish Government was trying to “deliver societal and economic transformation with one hand tied behind our back”.

And she warned “full delivery” of the Scottish Government’s plans would depend on Westminster “reversing the 9% cut to our capital budget”.

McAllan said: “This government and parliament rightly has high ambitions, and it is beyond doubt that investing now in net zero is the right thing for our environment, our society and our economy.

“But we are being held back.

“So I am asking MSPs across this chamber to work with us to call on the UK Government to reverse Scotland’s capital cut.”

‘A world leader in ditching climate targets’

Scottish Tory MSP Graham Simpson said the announcement was an “admission of failure”.

Labour MSP Sarah Boyack said the Scottish Government had gone from “world-leading” climate targets to becoming a “world leader in ditching climate targets”.

Friends of the Earth said choosing to scrap the 2030 climate targets would be the “worst environmental decision in the history of the Scottish Parliament”.

Then-first minister Nicola Sturgeon had been told in 2021 by the Committee of Climate Change that the 75% reduction target had been “overcooked”.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton criticised the Scottish Greens – who are in government with the SNP – saying they had “torched climate targets for a seat at the table”.

He said the Scottish Government’s “nationalism has always trumped its environmentalism” and described the ditching of the target as a “monstrous, generational betrayal”.

“It is a cynical attempt to dodge bad press by simply abolishing the climate change targets they have repeatedly dismissed,” he told the net zero secretary

Patrick Harvie, Scottish Green minister for active travel and tenants rights, said Thursday’s decision must be a “turning point”.

“I am angry and disappointed that we are in this position, everyone who cares about our planet should be,” he said. “It must be a turning point. 
“We cannot undo decades of inaction and bad decision making but what we can do is ensure that Scotland goes further and faster in delivering the rapid and fundamental change that is so vital.”

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