The committee’s report shows that Scotland met its last three annual targets and continues to outperform the United Kingdom in reducing emissions. The committee also found that our climate change plan provides an “ambitious” and “credible” package of measures for continuing to meet the targets that have been set by this Parliament’s Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009.
The Parliament is now considering whether those targets should be increased, through the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill. We have proposed that the targets be set to the maximum level of ambition that is credible at this stage. We will look again at the climate change plan as soon as the bill has been finalised, and we will consider the committee’s recommendations carefully in the meantime.
We have previously heard the First Minister place a great deal of weight on the advice of the Committee on Climate Change. The committee’s report highlights a lack of action in agriculture and transport. What will the Scottish Government do to support people who work in those industries to contribute to emissions reduction in a fair and sustainable way?
We also heard the First Minister say, in her speech at the United Nations climate change conference in Bonn last year, that all countries, including Scotland, should “contribute fair shares”. Does she agree with Scottish and now UK Labour that Scotland should have a target of net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest and more robust interim targets to lead us there, so that we continue to be a global leader?
Claudia Beamish asked about transport. I talked about transport in answer to Patrick Harvie, so I will not repeat all that. The progress and further plans that the Scottish Government has on transport are recognised in the report of the Committee on Climate Change.
Claudia Beamish also asked about agriculture. Emissions in agriculture are down 14 per cent since the 1990 baseline. Scottish farmers do a lot to contribute to emissions reduction in the context of electricity generation, land use and forestry. The climate change plan includes a range of measures to further encourage farmers on the benefits of low-carbon farming. We intend to explore fully the potential for voluntary measures before we consider any change in approach.
They say that imitation is the finest form of flattery, and in
Jeremy Corbyn’s speech there was certainly plenty that the Scottish Government has already done; I am glad to see Labour following in our wake.
Climate change is an interesting example in that regard. Jeremy Corbyn yesterday committed Labour to support a 60 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030. That sounds good, except that we have proposals in the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill, which is before this Parliament, that commit to a 66 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030. We are ahead of other countries and we are proposing the most stringent and ambitious statutory climate change targets anywhere in the world. I look forward to having Claudia Beamish’s support for that.
In light of the rise in transport emissions every year since 2010, the Committee on Climate Change has confirmed that transport is Scotland’s biggest sectoral challenge. In particular, aviation emissions have doubled since 1990. Airports are recording record passenger numbers. How can the First Minister justify a £250 million tax break to the aviation industry as a result of the scrapping of air passenger duty?
We need good connectivity—including to our Highland communities, I have to say—and that often involves air transport. We have to ensure two things. We must ensure that proper account is taken of aviation emissions, which is why it is so important that we include aviation emissions in the calculations for our targets—something that not all countries do.
It is also important that we have a balanced transport system and, as the Committee on Climate Change recognises, we are investing in and have ambitious plans for the electrification of the transport network.
We will continue to take forward those plans to ensure that there are good connections across Scotland and between Scotland and other countries while also fulfilling our international obligations—our moral obligations—to reduce emissions and tackle climate change and continuing to be a world leader in doing so.
The Presiding Officer:
That concludes First Minister’s question time. We will shortly move to a members’ business debate, but we will first have a short suspension to allow members of the public to leave the public gallery and new members of the public to arrive.
12:45 Meeting suspended.
12:48 On resuming—