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Edinburgh Castle, Scotland.
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Environment

Scotland Is Beating the Rest of the UK at Cutting Carbon Emissions


Why Global Citizens Should Care
The UN’s Global Goals include several targets for the environment, including tackling climate change, and creating cities and communities that are sustainable. Scotland is really leading the way for the rest of the UK, setting out clear targets and policies that have already made a dent in its carbon emissions. But there’s always more to do to stay on target. You can join us by taking action here to support the Global Goals for the environment. 

Scotland is outperforming the rest of the UK in its efforts to combat climate change, thanks to its significant strides in making the move to clean energy. 

The country laid out an “ambitious statement of intent” in setting itself the goal of cutting its emissions by 90% by 2050, compared to 1990 levels. 

A new report from the Committee on Climate Change, released on Monday, has shown that Scotland’s target of 56% reduction in actual emissions by 2020 is “within reach.” 

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“Scotland continues to lead the UK in reducing its emissions and has ambitious targets which aim to go further,” said Lord Deben, chair of the committee. 

“Decarbonisation of Scotland’s electricity sector, and reductions in emissions from waste, have seen Scotland outperform the UK overall as emissions continue to fall year-on-year to nearly half of 1990 levels,” he added. 

The committee’s findings make up the seventh report on on Scotland’s progress towards meeting emissions targets.

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The Scottish Government introduced the Climate Change (Emissions Reductions Targets) (Scotland) bill to the Scottish Parliament in May 2018, with advice from the committee on the definition and levels of the new targets. 

The bill increased Scotland’s target for emissions reduction by 2050 from 80% to 90% against 1990 levels. 

Scotland’s total emissions fell by 10% in 2016 alone, compared to 2015 levels, and the “lion’s share” of this latest drop in emission came from electricity generation. 

In 2016, 17.8% of Scotland’s total energy came from renewable sources, according to the report. It means Scotland is outperforming the UK overall, and is ahead of the EU average of 16.7%.

As well as a shift to cleaner energy, Scotland has also made good progress on tackling waste. For example, the country is aiming to recycle 70% of all waste by 2025. 

In 2016, according to the report, 61% of all waste was recycled, composted, or reused — an increase of 4.7% since 2015. It means that Scotland is on track to meet its 2025 target for recycling. 

But the committee also warned Scotland not to get too confident too soon, and added that “challenges remain.” 

It said that “successful strategics for energy and waste [are] masking a lack of progress in other parts of the Scottish economy.” 

The committee is now calling on Scotland to broaden its vision in reducing emissions — primarily through tackling the emissions from transport. Transport is now, according to the report, Scotland’s “biggest sectoral challenge.” 

“Emissions from transport have increased each year since 2010, with a further 2% increase overall in 2016,” said the report. 

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Lord Deben added: “Achieving a 90% cut in emissions by 2050, as envisaged within the new climate change bill, means greater effort is now required across other areas of Scotland’s economy.”

“This includes policies to drive down emissions in sectors where they are either flat or rising, such as transport, agriculture, and energy-efficiency in buildings,” he added. “Without real action in these areas, Scotland may fall short of its long-term goals.” 

The report said that, in order to hit 2032 emissions targets, policies in these areas needed to improve.