Nicola Sturgeon’s claim to be a global leader in the fight against climate change is ‘in tatters’ after the UK’s independent watchdog found his government was missing most of its green targets and failing to had no “clear delivery plan” on how to reach them.
The prime minister has repeatedly bragged about her government’s ‘world-leading’ climate change goals at the Cop26 and Cop27 climate change summits, urging world leaders to ‘match their rhetoric with reality’ .
But independent advisers to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said Ms Sturgeon’s government had missed seven of the 11 targets, with progress ‘largely stalled in recent years’ and no ‘coherent explanation’ being offered by ministers.
In a deeply embarrassing conclusion for the SNP and its Scottish Green Coalition partners, the detailed assessment warned that their government’s “trend of failure will continue without urgent and strong action”.
In particular, he found “glaring flaws” in the coalition’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2030, a target he said would be largely missed.
As emissions fell in 2020, the committee said this was “largely due to travel restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic” and predicted they would “rebound” when the following year’s figures will be calculated.
Scotland’s previous lead over the rest of the UK in cutting emissions has evaporated, he warned, and plans to decarbonise transport lag behind other parts of the country , with higher electric car sales in England.
Scotland’s “consumption emissions” – the amount associated with government spending on goods and services – were found to be 22% higher than the UK average in 2018.
In a damning assessment of the SNP-Green coalition’s plans to force homeowners and businesses to replace their gas boilers, the committee concluded that its policies were “totally inadequate” to achieve its goals.
Similarly, the 230-page assessment said it was ‘unclear’ how ministers’ plan to cut agricultural emissions would be achieved and warned targets to restore peatland carbon stores were being missed. by more than half.
The committee said “closer cooperation” with the UK government was needed in some areas, in particular the decarbonisation of industry, but there was “little evidence” of what was happening and it “undermined the achieving Scotland’s more ambitious short-term goals”.
The CCC is an independent statutory body that advises the UK government and devolved administrations on their emissions targets. It is chaired by Lord Deben, who, as John Gummer, was Environment Secretary in John Major’s government.
He said: “In 2019, the Scottish Parliament committed the country to some of the world’s most ambitious climate targets, but they are under increasing threat with no real progress towards the milestones Scottish Ministers have previously set.
“A year ago I called for more clarity and transparency on Scottish climate policy and its implementation. That call goes unanswered.”
Colin Smyth, Scottish Labour’s new zero spokesman, said: ‘This damning report leaves the empty rhetoric of the SNP-Green government in tatters.
The CCC review noted the SNP-Green coalition’s adoption of “bold emissions reduction targets” but said they could only be “applauded” if they were actually met.
It found that emissions had fallen by 59% between 1990 and 2020, reaching an intermediate target of a 56% decline, but only due to a “substantial contribution from the effects of the pandemic, and it is unlikely that this target has been achieved. achieved”. met without them.”
There is a “significant risk” that Scotland will fail to meet its annual targets in the 2020s, he concluded, warning that: “Policies and plans are not yet enough to speed things up at required pace.
While Ms Sturgeon’s government has a ‘laudable target’ of reducing car miles traveled by 20% by 2030, the assessment said there was no strategy with ‘sufficient levers to dissuade the use of the car”.
The CCC said targets for replacing gas-fired boilers in homes with low-carbon forms of heating such as heat pumps “imply about double the annual roll-out rates we have deemed realistic, even in our most ambitious scenario”.
Michael Matheson, SNP Net Zero Secretary, said: “Progress has been made – Scotland is already more than halfway to net zero – but we are now entering the most difficult part of the journey to date, with the need to halve our emissions in the next eight years.”
The Scottish Greens claimed the report was outdated because it was based on a climate strategy drawn up before they joined the ruling SNP.
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