CCC advises Scotland to set Net Zero GHG Emissions Target for 2045

The UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) today released its report Net Zero: The UK's contribution to stopping global warming advising the UK, Welsh, and Scottish Governments on setting new ambitious targets for greenhouse gas emission to help stop global warming:

Background. Scotland currently has a target to reduce emissions of all greenhouse gases including international aviation and shipping by at least 80% by 2050, relative to 1990. The target was set in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act (2009) and is under review in a new Climate Change Bill currently being considered by the Scottish Parliament.

Recommendation. The CCC report recommends that the Scottish Government should legislate to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. The target can be legislated as a 100% reduction in GHGs from 1990 and should cover all sectors of the economy, including international aviation and shipping.

Interim targets. The Scottish Climate Change Bill also requires interim targets. The CCC recommends these are set for a 70% reduction by 2030 and a 90% reduction by 2040 against the 1990 baseline. Scotland should not adjust its 2020 target.

A fair share. These targets represent Scotland's fair contribution to the recommended UK target and hence to the Paris Agreement. They do not imply higher policy ambition or effort, but reflect the excellent opportunities to remove CO₂ from the atmosphere through afforestation and carbon capture and storage in Scotland.

Contingent on UK ambition. These targets are contingent on the UK adopting our recommended 2050 net-zero GHG target. Scotland cannot deliver net-zero emissions by 2045 through devolved policy alone. It will require both UK-wide and Scottish policies to ramp up significantly. If the UK does not commit to a net-zero GHG target for 2050 then Scotland may need to revise its target.

A just transition. The new Scottish Just Transition Commission has an important role to help plan and deliver a just transition across Scotland that protects vulnerable workers, consumers and rural and island populations.

Today’s CCC report highlights that developing carbon capture and storage technology and low-carbon hydrogen are a necessity, not an option. It also shows that Scotland has greater potential to remove pollution from its economy than the UK overall, and can credibly adopt a more ambitious target of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 2045.

Based on this advice from the Committee on Climate Change,  the Scottish Government today announced that it is acting immediately by lodging amendments to the Climate Change Bill. These amendments would, if agreed to by the Scottish Parliament, implement the CCC’s advice by setting a target date of 2045 for net-zero emissions of all greenhouse gases and increasing the levels of the 2030 and 2040 targets to 70% and 90% reductions respectively:

-          Scottish 70% greenhouse gas reduction by 2030

-          Scottish 90% greenhouse gas reduction by 2040

-          Scottish net-zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045

Scotland will have the most stringent statutory targets in the world and our contribution to climate change will end, definitively, within a generation, provided that UK-wide ambition is also raised to net-zero by 2050. Achieving a ‘net-zero’ target by the middle of the century is in line with the UK’s commitment under the Paris Agreement; the pact which the UK and the rest of the world signed in 2015 to curb dramatically the polluting gases that cause climate change.