Net zero emissions are achievable for the UK by 2050 according to the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) report published earlier this month.
Following last year’s IPPC report on staying below 1.5 degrees and requests from UK, Scottish and Welsh governments in light of the Paris Agreement, the CCC examined extensive evidence to produce the independent recommendations.
The report calls for the UK to end its contribution to global warming within 30 years by setting an ambitious new target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.
Swift amendments to Climate Change Bill
Immediately following the report, Scottish Government announced that Scotland will stop contributing to climate change within a generation under new climate change proposals.
Amendments to the Climate Change Bill have been lodged and are currently progressing through Parliament. Amendments include setting a legally binding target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the latest and for Scotland to reduce emissions by 70% by 2030 and 90% by 2040.
The existing targets proposed in the Bill were already world-leading. In response to calls from young people, scientists and businesses across the country, Scottish Ministers have adopted the advice of the UK Climate Change Committee. The CCC has praised Scotland’s swift response to the advice.
Climate emergency agenda
Since publication of the CCC report First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a climate emergency to her own political party. In the UK Parliament, MPs have approved a motion to declare an environment and climate emergency. The City of Glasgow has also announced plans to become the first UK city to reach net-zero.
These bold statements are indicative of the rising concern and awareness of climate change across the public, in the media and in political agendas.
A leading role for Scotland
The report suggests that Scotland has an opportunity to lead the race to net zero, stating: “Scotland has greater potential to remove pollution from its economy than the UK overall and can credibly adopt a more ambitious target”. The report urges the use of available policy levers and technologies as well as the need to focus on behaviour change. In addition, the CCC highlights the importance of ensuring that the economic transition is fair and just.
There are a number of opportunities for Scotland identified in the report, including reforestation, peatland restoration and exploiting bioenergy with carbon capture and storage technology (BECCS).
Find out more
There has been good coverage across news sources on the recent developments – follow the below links to a few key readings and summaries.
- The Committee on Climate Change – press release and downloadable pdf of report.
- Scottish Government announcement on changed targets.
- ClimateXChange – Director Dan Barlow reflects on the main points from a Scottish perspective.
- Carbon Brief In-depth: The UK should reach ‘net-zero’ climate goal by 2050
- Scottish Parliament’s SPICe information centre has a briefing on net zero and the climate emergency.
- Changeworks Chief Executive, Theresa Bray's blog: “From policy to practice: turning climate declarations into positive action”.