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Scotland To Drop Its ‘World-Leading’ 2030 Climate Change Goal After Committee Report Finds It Is Not Attainable

Climate protestors hold signs in Edinburgh wanting justice for climate change.
Source: Friends of the Earth Scotland/Wikimedia

Scotland’s government is now admitting that its ambitious climate change goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 75% for the year 2030 is not attainable and will ditch it.

When it was set into law in 2019, Scotland’s emissions goal was seen as world-leading, beating the UK as a whole, which was shooting for a 68% emissions reduction by that same time.

The First Minister of Scotland at the time, Nicola Sturgeon, boasted that Scotland had the “most stretching targets in the world.”

While Scotland was talking a big game in the beginning, the intervening years until today have seen the country miss eight of its last 12 annual climate targets.

Climate Change Committee (CCC), an independent watchdog group, sent a report to parliament last month that delivered a scathing review of Scotland’s continuing climate failures. In the report, it accused them of missing key publication deadlines for its climate plan and failing to meet legal requirements.

“The Scottish Government is failing to achieve Scotland’s ambitious climate goals. Annual emissions targets have repeatedly been missed and the publication of Scotland’s draft Climate Change Plan has been delayed. As such, there is still no comprehensive delivery strategy for meeting future emissions targets and actions continue to fall far short of what is legally required,” the report said.

The CCC asserts in their report that at the current time, the amount of emissions reduction Scotland would have to do to achieve the 2030 climate goal is no longer believable.

“The acceleration required in emissions reduction to meet the 2030 target is now beyond what is credible. The recent rate of emissions reduction outside the electricity supply, aviation and shipping sectors needs to increase by a factor of nine in the nine years from 2021 to 2030, compared to the preceding nine years, if Scotland is to achieve its 2030 target of a 75% reduction compared to 1990 levels,” the CCC said.

News of the abandonment of the climate goal was confirmed by the wellbeing economy, energy and net zero secretary Mairi McAllan during a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday. In her statement, she called for a refocusing around the 2045 net-zero emissions goal.

“In this challenging context of cuts and UK backtracking, we accept the CCCs recent re-articulation that this Parliament’s interim 2030 target is out of reach. We must now act to chart a course to 2045 at a pace and scale that is feasible, fair and just,” McAllan said.

McAllen called for Scotland’s support in continuing the fight against climate change.

“The race to net zero is one that we must all win and I want to begin by affirming this Government’s unwavering commitment to ending our contribution to global emissions by 2045 at the latest, as agreed by Parliament on a cross-party basis,” said McAllen.

In reaction to the news, government minister and leader of the Scottish Greens Party Patrick Harvie said the country should be “embarrassed” by this decision and that “everyone in Scotland should be angry.”

Environmental activist group Friends of the Earth said the decision was the “worst environmental decision in the history of the Scottish Parliament.” 

Oxfam, a non-governmental group that helps the world’s poorest people, called the abandonment of the climate target a “reprehensible retreat” and a “global embarrassment.”


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