Scotland must do more to decrease harmful emissions across all sectors


Climate change targets across all of Scotland’s sectors should be “equally challenging”, according to a Holyrood report published today.

Four parliamentary committees have delivered key recommendations today as they report on the Scottish Government’s Draft Climate Change Plan (CCP), which sets out Scotland’s approach to cutting emissions over the next 15 years. 


One of the concerns raised by the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee is the approach taken in tackling emissions across all sectors. For example, transport accounts for 28% of harmful emissions yet it has weaker targets in comparison to other sectors in Scotland. 

Graeme Dey MSP, Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee Convener, said:

“Scotland has ambitious climate change targets and the Scottish Parliament wants to make sure that plans to reduce emissions are as robust and achievable as possible.

“Our Committee feels that it is crucial for all of Scotland’s sectors to play their part in reducing emissions. Specifically transport and agriculture – which are the biggest contributors in terms of creating harmful carbon emissions – must, in the opinion of the committee, be required to make a greater contribution in tackling climate change.

“In order for Scotland to truly be a world leader, the Scottish Government needs to ensure all sectors are equally challenged in creating a climate-friendly, low-carbon Scotland.”

The Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee; Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee; Local Government and Communities Committee and the Economy Jobs and Fair Work Committee have been closely examining the Scottish Government’s plan.

As well as calling for ambitious policies and proposals across all sectors, the Committees believe more detail is required in the final Climate Change Plan.

Graeme Dey said: 

"The Committee is disappointed at the lack of detailed information in the draft plan. In order to come to a view on how robust and achievable the targets are, we must have considerably more data around some of the specific measures. Not only will this allow for proper scrutiny, it will also help the Scottish Parliament to hold the Government to account on progress in years to come.”

A clear message across many of the Draft Climate Change reports was the importance of behaviour change. The Committees believe the power of the public to adopt climate-friendly behaviours has been overlooked in the plan. 

Graeme Dey added: 

“Not enough emphasis appears to have been placed upon improving everyday habits in order to combat climate change.  We believe this is a missed opportunity. That’s why we’ve recommended that the science of behaviour change should be included in the final plan, in order to empower the Scottish public to make lifestyle changes that can make a huge difference.” 


Notes to editor 

In the reports, the Committees highlighted a range of issues including: 

Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee

  • The Scottish Government should adopt equally challenging policies and proposals across all sectors, which reflect the wider benefits of climate change actions and should be supported by behavioural change research.
  • The Committee plans to review the final Climate Change Plan. Given timing issues identified by stakeholders and various committees, it encourages the Scottish Government to prioritise this scrutiny process. More detail should be given on emissions reductions across all sectors and the necessary action should be specific, clear and transparent in the final plan.
  • The final plan should have a “Plan B” option if the assumptions for carbon capture and storage are not realised.
  • The monitoring and evaluation framework is crucial and the Scottish Parliament should be involved in the development and scrutiny of this.

 Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee

  • The goodwill of farmers and land managers must be ensured to achieve climate change targets. Many stakeholders have said that the draft Climate Change Plan for the agriculture sector is not ambitious enough and that some proposals lack detail.
  • Since 1990, progress in emissions reduction from the transport sector has been largely offset by increases in demand. Greater consideration should be given to policies that will encourage a shift away from private cars.
  • Progress in the forestry sector has been slow and the Scottish Government has failed to meet its planting targets. The Scottish Government has accepted the recommendations in the recent Mackinnon report on forestry planting proposals to help achieve targets.

Local Government and Communities Committee

  • Further detail is needed on how the Scottish Government will drive behaviour change in communities where climate change is a lower priority.
  • The Committee would like more detail on how the public sector can contribute to the ambitious target for the services sector. More information should be included in the final version of the plan.
  • The plan is light on the contribution that communities and the community empowerment agenda can play in stopping climate change. The role of the community sector should be reflected in the final version of the plan.
  • The Committee was constrained in its scrutiny in relation to housing, given that many of the proposals and policies associated with the Scottish Energy Efficiency Programme have not been finalised in time for the publication of the plan.

Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee

  • The Committee heard that the target to improve the fabric of Scotland’s homes resulting in a 6% reduction in heat demand by 2032 could be viewed as “business as usual”; the Committee recommends that the Scottish Government reconsiders this target and whether it could be more ambitious.
  • The Committee encourages the Scottish Government to do what it can within its own remit to support the renewable energy industry, whilst working with the UK Government to maximise support available to the industry in Scotland. 
  • The Committee believes it is vital to establish how the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) will be supported and funded.  However, given the reliance within the Climate Change Plan on the development and large-scale demonstration of CCS, an as yet unproven technology, the Committee recommends that consideration is given to other available options, alongside CCS.
  • The Committee supports the move towards low-carbon heat supply while recognising that transforming heating supply from predominantly gas to low-carbon sources will require significant change. The technologies to deliver this change are evolving and this explains an intense period of change from 2025-2032.  However, the Committee urges the Scottish Government not to delay this process for so long, on the basis that transforming the housing stock within 7 years strikes us as unrealistic. Given the scale of change planned for 2025 onwards, the Committee is of the view that more might be done in the intervening period to front-load some of this work.

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