Scotland misses climate target for third year running only months before hosting Cop26

Nation 'should be leading the world' on emissions cuts ahead of key summit

Five months before Scotland hosts the crucial Cop26 climate summit, its government is under fire for failing to meet its own emissions targets.

The Scottish government acknowledged its aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55 per cent compared to 1990 levels had not been achieved.

Emissions fell by 51.5 per cent up to 2019, making it the third year in a row the target was not reached.

Jamie Livingstone, the head of Oxfam Scotland, said ministers could make “no more excuses”.

“On the eve of the most significant global climate talks for years being hosted in Glasgow, the Scottish government has scored a hat-trick of own goals by missing its annual emissions targets three years in a row,” he said.

“Climate change is wrecking lives, homes and communities, and pushing people deeper into poverty.”

It is undoubtedly disappointing that the annual target has not been met

Monica Lennon, a member of the Scottish Parliament from the opposition Labour Party, said the missed targets were “not good enough in a climate emergency”.

“In the year of Cop26, when Scotland should be leading the world, we are instead failing on the basics,” she said.

While the UK as a whole has the presidency of Cop26, the devolved Scottish government has spoken of its desire to demonstrate strong climate action.

The city of Glasgow has a target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: COP26 President Alok Sharma rehearses a speech at Whitelee Windfarm, with six months to go until the U.N. Climate Change Conference, just outside Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, May 14, 2021. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne/Pool/File Photo

'Challenging journey'

Michael Matheson, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, told politicians climate neutrality was a “very challenging journey”.

“Whilst it is undoubtedly disappointing that the annual target has not been met, the figures do still show good progress,” he said.

“We continue to outperform the UK as a whole in delivering long-term reductions, and crucially, we are now over halfway to becoming a net zero society.”

He said the figures up to 2019 did not cover the effects of Covid-19 or new policies over the past year.

Experts say emission cuts caused by the pandemic were relatively small and not likely to last once the crisis was over.

As Cop26 draws nearer, G7 leaders promised at their summit last weekend to accelerate efforts to cut emissions.

But the figures in Scotland came as a report said Britain as a whole was not adapting fast enough to the effects of climate change.

The 142-page Climate Change Committee report said the UK needed to do more to protect against the risks of flooding, drought and biodiversity loss.

It said the average land temperature in Britain had risen by about 1.2°C from pre-industrial levels.

World leaders have a target of keeping the global increase below 1.5°C.