Scotland once again justifies its world-leading position on climate change by passing the snappily-titled Climate Change Bill on October 26. Once the Bill receives Royal Assent it will put in place the strictest emissions targets of any country in the world.
The most crucial thing this new Bill does is change Scotland’s climate change target of reducing our emission levels from an 80% cut by 2050 to a 100% cut by 2045.By 2045 we won’t actually have zero climate change emissions, but the low level of emissions we do have will need to be balanced out by things that absorb climate change emissions, such as tree planting or carbon capture and storage technology. This balancing will result in what is known as net-zero emissions. The net-zero target is very dreamy, but the Committee on Climate Change – which provides independent advice to government on climate change – has said in its May 2019 report that this target is possible and should cost 1-2% of GDP to deliver. One thing that you may not have spotted is that the target year of 2045 can be changed if the proposed new target year is consistent with the most up-to-date advice government receives from the relevant body. This means that if the CCC changes its advice, the year by which we achieve net-zero could also be changed by changes in the Bill.
The new Bill is very good news for the renewable energy industry as there is universal recognition that renewable technologies will be key to delivering on the ambitions of the Bill. There is a clear expectation that there will be a rendition of Scottish Government policies and spending plans to achieving net-zero, and we would expect the needs of the renewable industry to be a major consideration here. Scottish Renewables is already in process with the Scottish Government on this path and over the coming months and years will continue to ensure that policy and spending are shaped by members’ views.