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23 January 2019

Scotland has multiple options to confidently end its climate emissions by 2045 according to a new report published today (Wed 23 Jan). [1]

‘A Climate of Possibility: Harnessing Scotland’s natural resources to end our contribution to climate change’ commissioned by WWF Scotland sets out the many routes Scotland can take to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions [2].  We need to accelerate our response to climate change while at the same time planning a just transition towards a healthier, cleaner, flourishing country.

Gina Hanrahan, head of policy at WWF Scotland said:

“We know that climate change is one of the biggest threats facing people and nature. To avoid the most dangerous consequences at home and abroad, we need to urgently cut our emissions and rapidly increase our carbon sinks through tree planting, restoring peatlands and improving the health of our soils.

“In the ten years since the previous Climate Change Bill we’ve already reduced emissions by nearly half and made truly incredible progress in cutting the carbon from our power sector.

“There’s still much to be done to ensure everyone in Scotland is living in a warm, low carbon home, can breathe clean air and that we are producing the best of low carbon food.

“That’s why it’s crucial MSPs, who are debating the new Climate Change Bill, confront the challenge head on and join the growing number of progressive nations by setting an iconic net zero target and speeding up the policy action need to end our climate emissions once and for all. 

“This report makes clear that there is a credible route-map for Scotland to achieve net zero in the 2040s. We are laden with natural advantages for net zero. From our abundant renewable energy resource, to our large land area suitable for carbon sinks, to our history of innovation and skilled workforce, this new report shows we can hit net zero before other UK nations and be among the global leaders on this issue.”

The report sets out deep cuts are necessary and achievable in key sectors including:

  • The power sector, transport and buildings sectors can all reach zero or near-zero emissions.
  • Emissions in industry can be reduced by at least 60% without reducing productive capacity.
  • Agriculture can reduce emissions by around 35% while maintaining current production levels. Farms will have a growing and crucial role in deloying carbon sinks to help offset emissions.
  • Carbon sinks have a critical role to play in balancing remaining emissions, and can even take us beyond net zero to -120% emissions reduction by 2050 with enough policy support and a strategic approach.

Maarten Hage, Senior Economist, Vivid Economics said:

“A strong long-term emission target can unlock low carbon opportunities for Scotland. In particular due to its large per capita land area, Scotland is well placed to pursue emissions reductions through afforestation and other low carbon land management practices. Although there is uncertainty as to the precise scope and scale of deployment, what is clear is that these options are vital to achieving net-zero and realising the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.”

Notes to Editors:

[1] A Climate of Possibility report

[2] Net zero means working to strike a balance between greenhouse gas emissions and removals by sinks by the second half of the century.  This is known as the net zero goal.