Tayside environment activists have reacted with dismay to the Scottish Government’s latest set of missed climate change targets.
New statistics show the Scottish Government (SG) had missed its key annual target by 3.5% in 2019.
Campaigners branded it a “massive shortfall”, while the SG hit back claiming the figures show the country was “more than half way to our target of becoming a net-zero nation”.
It follows a 4% miss revealed last year in the SG’s 2018 figures.
Environment campaigners are currently working in communities across Perthshire, Kinross, Fife, Dundee and Angus ahead of the world climate talks COP26 being held in Glasgow in November.
Andy Llanwarne, Friends of the Earth Tayside co-ordinator, said the 3.5% miss was a “let down, but not a surprise”.
“The crucial thing here is in the first year of the legislation, we’ve missed a target by 3.5%. Which is a massive shortfall.
“They really have to get their act together and do things urgently. There a whole range of things they could be doing.”
Not enough done on local issues
He suggested a range of local issues in Dundee, Perthshire, Angus and Fife had contributed to the poor national performance.
They included building waste incinerators, rather than pushing ahead with legislation to improve recycling.
Building standards, and energy efficiency measures, also required urgent strengthening, he added.
He also said more needs to be done to wind down oil and gas production, rather than pushing forward with exploring new fields.
“I’m frustrated at the lack of progress,” he said.
“I remember talking to civil servants in the Scottish Government and they told me they can only push ministers to do things at a certain speed because it’s got to be politically acceptable to the public.
“I think politicians are too cautious now in not taking the action that we all know is needed.
“We’ve had Boris and his colleagues talking at the weekend. We all know we need to take urgent action on this. But we’re doing it in baby steps.
“We know about firm action with Covid. These are things we have to do for public safety and public health.
“Looking a short distance ahead, we have to make the changes now for us and for our children’s future.”
Target missed in new act’s first year
The Scottish Government has been using a method of reporting emissions known as the GHG Account since June last year.
Its own Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019 specifies a 55% cut between the base year 1990 and 2019.
But the GHG account only reduced by 51.5% over the period, meaning the SG missed its target by 3.5%
A Scottish Government spokesman said its commitment to ending Scotland’s contribution to climate change by 2045 “is absolute”.
“As is our commitment to ensuring we do it in a way that is just and fair and leaves no-one behind.
He said the emissions statistics were “undoubtedly disappointing”.
“The figures do show that we have already achieved significant progress in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.
Half way to net zero nation
“We are now more than half way to our target of becoming a net-zero nation. This is something we can all be proud of.
“The Scottish Government had always been clear that the second half of our journey to net-zero will be ‘more challenging’.
“It will require urgent, collective action across government, parliament and indeed across every corner of society, in order to achieve it.”
SG net zero secretary Michael Matheson will set out the SG’s full response to the 2019 greenhouse gas statistics later on Tuesday.
More to follow.