THE Scottish Government has met its annual statutory climate change targets for the third year running.
But environmental groups say it is proof they should step up efforts to aim for zero emissions sooner rather than later.
It comes as the latest officials numbers show a 49% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
The new figures, which are calculated against a 1990 baseline, show the country is set to exceed its current 2020 climate change target.
It also continues to outperform the UK as a whole.
Amongst the EU-15 member states, Scotland is second only to Sweden (51%) and ahead of Finland (42%), Germany (25%) and Denmark (23%).
Tom Ballantine, Chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) said: “It’s great news that Scotland has hit the annual target and reduced its climate emissions by 45 per cent compared to the 1990 baseline and is well ahead of the 42 per cent 2020 target.
“Everyone who has played their part in achieving this reduction should be proud.
“Back in 2009, when Scotland’s first Climate Act was passed, there was no clear path to meeting the 42 per cent emissions reduction target and many were sceptical it could be achieved.
“Today’s results show that setting stretching targets works by driving innovation and strong policy delivery.”
He added: “This success, along with support from the public, leading scientists and farming groups, should give the Scottish Government the confidence to aim high once again and set a net zero emissions target, by 2050 at the latest, in the new Climate Change Bill.
“2016 reflects the first full year since the closure of Longannet power station, showing the big impact you can have by phasing out dirty coal and switching to clean renewables.”
The new statistics also reveal edemissions of the single most significant greenhouse gas – carbon dioxide – have fallen by more than 50%.
Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “These statistics are hugely encouraging and show we have almost halved the greenhouse gases emitted in Scotland – underlining our role as an international leader in the fight against climate change.
“We all have a role to play in that fight and I want to thank the households, communities and businesses who are working hard every day to reduce their own emissions.
“But we must go further and faster if we are to meet our responsibilities to our children, grandchildren, and future generations.
“Our ambitious Climate Change Bill will ensure we do exactly that – by setting a new 90% reduction target for 2050 and paving the way towards achieving net-zero emissions as soon as possible.”
Claire Mack, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, also welcomed the latest update.
She said: “It’s fantastic to hear that Scotland has hit its annual climate change target for the third year in a row. The announcement today shows that setting ambitious targets is the best way to achieve results.
“The energy supply sector has seen the largest reduction in CO2 emissions, with a 68.5% reduction since 1990. This demonstrates that phasing out fossil fuels in favour of clean, green alternatives is having the desired effect.
“The timing of this news couldn’t be better as we celebrate Onshore Wind Week 2018 and strive to create the best possible environment for the continued growth of renewable energy in Scotland.”
WANT TO LEARN MORE? Read: Scottish Greenhouse Gas Emissions
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