The Committee on Climate Change's (CCC), which advises both Scottish and UK governments recommended in 2019, that the Scotland should set its Net Zero deadline to 2045. The Scottish Government also adopted a new, ambitious goal to decrease emissions by 75% by 2030 in response to the UN Paris Accord, setting legally-binding aims to reduce emissions to net zero by that time.
These targets were set due to greenhouse gas emissions occurring at an unsustainable rate and if we did not take prompt action, the damage to the planet could become irreparable.
The CCC advised in 2022: “Over the last 30 years, average temperature in Scotland has risen by 0.5⁰C, Scottish winters have become 5% wetter and sea level around the Scottish coast has increased by up to 3cm each decade.”
The Scottish government has set out its strategy to respond to this in its “Draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan” 2023. The document sets out key ambitions for Scotland’s energy future which are presented in the illustration above.
So why net zero rather than zero or gross-zero? Net zero indicates we're not simply reducing harmful greenhouse gases, but also taking actions to restore the balance in our environment. Gross Zero would entail ceasing all emissions, which is not feasible in all areas of the country.
The country has already seen a wide range of innovative new developments supporting these goal such as, Orkney’s Tidal Turbine being the world's first offshore tidal energy array, Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc, Dundee, specialising in electric vehicles, Glasgow investing in hydrogen powered refuse trucks and Scotland’s world-first Unesco Trail.
Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary, Michael Matheson said in 2022: "Progress has been made - Scotland is already more than half way to net zero - but we are now entering the most challenging part of the journey to date, with a need to halve our emissions again within the next eight years." The CCC advised in its Scottish Emissions Targets first five yearly review, from 2022 that: “the target to cut emissions by 75% by 2030 as "extremely challenging" and suggests a 65% to 67% cut is more feasible.”
It is crucial that now the Scottish Governments have published its Draft Plan it can begin to implement the range of recommendation made in the document to utilise the wealth of renewable resources available to the country while reducing carbon emissions.
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