URGENT action must be taken by the Scottish Government to get the country back on track to reaching its bold emissions target, a report has said.

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) released its analysis to the Scottish Parliament detailing the progress made in reducing emissions in Scotland on Wednesday. 

The assessment said that the Scottish Government lacks a clear delivery plan for reducing emissions and has not offered up a coherent explanation for how its policies will help reach existing targets.

Environmental campaigners described the report as “scathing judgement” and said the Scottish Government must rapidly “scale up” plans to drastically cut emissions over the next decade.

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Lord Deben, chairman of the CCC, said: “In 2019, the Scottish Parliament committed the country to some of the most stretching climate goals in the world, but they are increasingly at risk without real progress towards the milestones that Scottish Ministers have previously laid out.

“One year ago, I called for more clarity and transparency on Scottish climate policy and delivery. That plea remains unanswered.”

The committee conducted a methodological review of Scottish climate targets and assessed progress in cutting Scottish greenhouse gas emissions.

While emission levels between 2019 and 2020 fell by 12%, it was only a temporary effect, largely due to travel restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the group says there is evidence that there will be a rebound to normal levels in 2021’s figures.

Since the introduction of the Scottish Climate Change Act in 2009, the Scottish Government has failed to achieve seven of the 11 legal targets.

The National: Lord Deben has called for more clarity from the Scottish Government on how targets will be achievedLord Deben has called for more clarity from the Scottish Government on how targets will be achieved

The report also said that Scotland had lost its lead in decarbonising over the UK, and that progress is now broadly the same, adding that there are “glaring gaps” between Scotland’s climate plans and achieving the goal to cut emissions by 75% by 2030.

The analysis also pointed to issues with transport targets, issues in agriculture and land and decarbonising homes, while adding that progress is slow across the board.

Mary Church, Friends of the Earth (FoE) Scotland head of campaigns, said the findings in the report represented a “scathing judgement” of the Scottish Government’s progress towards meeting legally binding targets.

She said: "The Scottish Government must urgently scale up its plans to cut climate pollution within the next decade.

"Fossil fuels are the key driver of the climate crisis so we urgently need to phase out oil and gas this decade through a just transition to a renewable-powered economy with decent green jobs and affordable energy for all.

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"The Scottish Government must abandon the dangerous fantasy that techno-fixes like carbon capture and storage are going to save the day and start focusing on the real solutions to the climate crisis.”

Church said investment should be made in public transport to take cars off the road, more investment in energy efficiency schemes and renewable heat.

Fabrice Leveque, climate change lead at WWF Scotland, said the report “doesn’t pull its punches” and sets out the next steps for the Scottish Government.

He said: ”This includes urgent, ambitious new efforts to transform how we heat our homes, and new policies to reduce farming emissions. Without this, the mantle of ‘climate leader’ is in jeopardy.

“The Scottish Government did show genuine leadership last month at COP27, placing a strong focus on climate justice.

"One of the strongest actions on climate justice is cutting our emissions at home as soon as possible, so that we limit the devastating impact of climate change on those nations who are most vulnerable to rising sea levels and extreme weather.

“It’s now time to have a laser focus on helping all of us in Scotland cut our emissions as fast as possible, bringing environmental, social and economic benefits to all.”

Mike Robinson, chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, said:“We welcome this expert and comprehensive report from the UK Committee on Climate Change, which provides the Scottish Government with a loud and clear wake up call.

"Scotland needs bold, decisive and immediate action to reduce emissions. Without this, the trend of missed targets, and failure to tackle the climate crisis will only continue.”

Michael Matheson, Scotland’s Net Zero Secretary, said the Government acknowledges “transformational action” across society is required to reach emissions targets.

Matheson said that “significant steps” had been made in recent years to reach the targets, which will need to be halved again in the next eight years, with policies including free bus travel for under 22s and the push to decarbonise homes. 

The National: Matheson said Scotland will need to halve its emissions again over the next eight yearsMatheson said Scotland will need to halve its emissions again over the next eight years

He said: “The action we are taking now will deliver significant emissions reductions in years to come.

“However, in many areas progress on reducing emissions in Scotland is dependent on decisions taken by the UK Government. They have not gone far enough, fast enough. 

“The Scottish Government will continue to push the UK Government to deliver progress on areas that are currently reserved – such as the development of negative emissions technologies, energy regulation, and reviewing the way transport is taxed – as well as ensuring the journey to net zero is prioritised in four-nations discussions.”

He added that the Scottish Government are “actively considering” the CCC’s advice and have started work preparing a new Climate Change Plan up to 2040.