The Scottish Government has announced plans to amend its Climate Change Bill and commit to a legally binding target of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the latest demonstrating its commitment to better pledges from the rest of the UK.

Amendments to the Climate Change Bill have already been tabled which call for a reduction in emissions by 70% by 2030 and 90% by 2040. The Scottish Government claims that these are the most ambitious statutory targets in the world for the timeframes.

The announcement from Scotland came just hours after the Committee on Climate Change called on the UK to set and vigorously pursue new climate change targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to ‘net-zero’ levels by 2050 – replacing the current target of an 80% reduction against 1990 levels.

In 2018, Scotland met its statutory annual climate change target for the third consecutive year, achieving a 49% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions against a 1990 baseline. The country is on course to meet it 2020 target of a 42% carbon reduction as it continues to outperform the UK as a whole; data shows that England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland collectively achieved a 37.6% drop in emissions over the same timeframe. The only EU member state in western Europe to perform better than Scotland was Sweden, which achieved a 51% reduction in GHG emissions over the 26-year period.

The Climate Change Committee has reported that a 100% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions should be legislated by the UK Government as soon as possible. Such a target would constitute the UK’s highest possible ambition to combatting climate change and would send a much stronger signal internationally. Crucially the committee reported that the net-zero target could be achieved at the same cost that is currently pledged to achieve the current Climate Change Act, which is between 1and 2% of GDP in 2050. The Scottish Parliament has called on the UK Government to follow Scotland’s lead by agreeing to the report recommendations.

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