A new report from independent government advisors at the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) have stated that Scotland must cut its greenhouse gas emissions by nearly two thirds over the next fourteen years in order to make its climate targets. The Climate Change (Scotland) Act requires emissions reductions of at least 42 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050 and despite the country having missed all four of its interim annual targets, though adjusted accounting techniques have been blamed, the report said it should continue its high-ambition strategy towards its world-leading goals as set out in 2009.
In the most recently available figures emissions have fallen by 38% from the 1990 level (which was taken as the baseline). The CCC report suggests further reductions of 61% by 2030 in order to reach its overall targets. The CCC state that this can be achieved but that the level of positive action must be increased in order to do so.
Lord Deben the Committee on Climate Change chairman said “There is a lot of positive action already under way in Scotland, driven by both its vibrant renewable sector and its bold policy approaches.
“This must now be accelerated. New policies will be required to meet these ambitious but achievable carbon objectives. With these actions Scotland can continue as an example to the rest of the UK in its approach to address climate change.”
Different technologies suggested include low-carbon heating systems, an increase in electric vehicles, expanding renewable energy networks and a nationwide tree planting drive.
The report and its findings have been welcomed by environmentalists despite the country being only three quarters of the way towards its 2020 goal.
Jim Densham, from Stop Climate Chaos Scotland said “The advice from the UK CCC describes a rapid transition away from fossil fuels towards a clean, renewable-energy future. This is a powerful reminder that all political parties need to step up action.”
However ministers insist that we can achieve our 2050 commitment. Aileen McLeod Environment and Climate Change minister said “We are on track to exceed our 2020 target for a 42 per cent reduction from baseline levels in greenhouse gas emissions and have outperformed the UK as a whole in every year since 2010. The committee’s current advice on how best to maintain our high ambition approach will be taken into account when Scotland’s next batch of targets is set in October.”
Renewable energy production has been a success in Scotland although it will need to continue to grow at the same rate as the last five years in order to achieve these targets. Heat generation and transport also account for large proportion of our carbon emissions (potentially up to 75%) and therefore these need to be tackled head on should we hope to be successful.
Recently Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, wrote in Business Quarter about the need to address these two in order for us to continue with the good work we have already done. In his report he mentions two businesses making great strides in these areas; “East Lothian-based business Sunamp, which uses cutting-edge ‘phase-change materials’ to store excess electricity as heat and deliver it later as hot water; and Edinburgh-based start-up Celtic Renewables, which last year became the first company in the world to produce a biofuel capable of powering cars from residues of the whisky industry. Both these businesses are at the very forefront of renewable energy research.”
It was also recently announced the Scottish Government has awarded the Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre Development Trust £1.2 million for their Heat Smart Orkney project. This project aims to directly pump the renewable energy generated from the local community owned wind turbines into the local residents heating systems.
At present, due to consistent high winds, renewable energy generation on the islands has to be reduced with turbines having to be switched off. This project however will use the excess power and divert it to either electric flow boilers or new stand alone boilers and hot water immersion heaters in domestic residences.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing speaking at the annual Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) Conference in Stirling announced that nine projects would receive a share of over £10 million to support innovative large-scale low carbon local energy projects through the Local Energy Challenge Fund. Launched in August 2014, the fund aims to demonstrate the value and benefit of local low carbon energy economies that link energy generation to energy use.
The push to attain our carbon emission targets must reach new levels if we are to be successful. Our preference would be for more new renewable energy generation developments but we are also aware that mix of new efficient technologies and projects must be added to the mix. We agree with Niall Stuart in that heat generation and transport energy use pose huge obstacles which we must overcome however the projects like Heat Smart Orkney show that there is potential that this can be achieved.
As technologies advance and cost reduce more of these types of projects can be implemented but we cannot stop there, we must continue to push to find new solutions and only then will be capable of realising our greenhouse gas emission reductions.