Scotland faces £11 billion bill to achieve its carbon reduction targets

by Search Gate staff. Published Sun 11 Dec 2017 15:02, Last updated: 2017-12-11
Scottish carbon reduction plans could cost billions

Scotland may have to spend up to £11 billion to achieve its ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the country's Auditor General

An Audit Scotland report published last week, Reducing Scottish greenhouse gas emissions, looks at the Scottish Government’s plans to reduce emissions by 42 per cent by 2020, compared with 1990.

According to the report, this target is far more ambitious than UK and European Union goals, and the Scottish Government is dependent on action by others to achieve it.

The government’s plans include action to reduce emissions from vehicles, improve the energy efficiency of homes and buildings, and increase the rate of tree planting. In some cases, the plans will require changes in the attitudes and behaviour of the public. Others require action by the EU and the UK government, as only around a third of planned reductions come from policies solely under the Scottish Government’s control.

Auditor General for Scotland Robert Black said:“The Scottish Parliament has set ambitious targets to reduce Scottish greenhouse gas emissions. To meet the 2020 target new policies will need to be delivered successfully, especially in transport. The challenges will be that much greater over the next few years when the pressures on Scotland’s public sector finances are likely to increase.”

But Green MSPs laid the blame at successive governments for refusing to take early action. Greens argue that early action to reduce emissions gives the best value for money, and further delay cannot be justified in environmental or economic terms.

Patrick Harvie MSP said: "The Auditor General is right to flag up areas like transport where the Scottish Government will need to make serious policy changes in order to meet the climate change targets. The scandal is that if action had been taken years ago when budgets were rising we'd have been in a far stronger position, both in terms of carbon and financially.

"The cost of cutting CO2 emissions is still far more affordable than the much greater cost of doing nothing, as the Stern Report showed. But the Scottish Government's time for taking action is running out, and it's now vital that they change their investment priorities away from roadbuilding and the fossil fuel industries, toward the job creators of the 21st century.

"It is telling that the Auditor General has not put a figure on the additional cost of even longer delay to action on climate change. Any further delay would add an incalculable burden, both financially and in environmental terms."

The report says it is difficult to calculate the cost of reducing emissions, but estimates the total cost to be about £10-11 billion by 2020. The Scottish Government has not yet established how much of the cost would be met by the public sector.

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