Stepping up action to net zero

Stepping up action to net zero graphic
Roderick Low

The Scottish Government is stepping up action to tackle climate change with a suite of new policies on transport, including increasing the number of electric vehicle chargers, and land use.

The increase in charging points comes as part of a wider climate package that also includes an integrated ticketing system which can be used across all public transport. In agriculture and land use, a new carbon tax on large estates to incentivise peatland restoration, tree planting and renewable energy generation will be consulted on, and ways to reduce emissions from livestock through the use of special feedstuffs will be piloted.

Net Zero Secretary Màiri McAllan confirmed the Scottish Government’s unwavering commitment to reach net zero by 2045 and announced new legislation will be brought forward to introduce multi-year ‘Carbon budgets’ replacing the current, annual targets. In light of the UK-wide Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) recent rearticulation that the 2030 target for emissions reduction is not achievable, this will no longer be a statutory target.

Responding to the Climate Change Committee 2023 progress report for Scotland which challenged the Scottish and UK Governments to go further and faster, actions include:

  • the publication of a new route map this year for the delivery of approximately 24,000 additional electric vehicle charge points by 2030
  • an integrated ticketing system that can be used across all public transport
  • a pilot scheme to support the roll out of methane suppressing food products to reduce emissions from livestock working closely with Scottish businesses
  • consulting on a new carbon tax on largest estates to encourage peatland restoration, tree planting and renewable energy generation
  • helping people reduce their reliance on cars with a 20% fall in their use by 2030
  • the creation of a Just Transition plan for the Mossmorran industrial site developed in partnership with the operators of the plant, workforce and local community

Scotland is already around halfway to net zero and has decarbonised faster than the UK average. In 2022, 87.9% of electricity generation was from zero or low carbon sources, nearly 63% of new woodlands in the UK were created in Scotland in 2022 -23 and more than two million Scots are now eligible for free bus travel.

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament Net Zero Secretary Màiri McAllan said:

“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.

“I was grateful for the latest report from the Climate Change Committee on our progress in reducing emissions. The CCC are a key partner in our net zero journey and their insights are essential. 

“Their report recognised much to be proud of, including this Government’s provision of free bus travel to all under 22s, our work delivering more woodland in Scotland in a year than any other UK nations combined and our work on decarbonising Heat in Buildings, noting that it could become a template for the rest of the UK.

“Considerable progress is also being made in energy. Scotland is becoming a renewables powerhouse - with 87.9% electricity generation coming from zero or low carbon sources in 2022.

“These are just some of the examples of the considerable work that has been taken and which sees us nearly halfway to net zero, narrowly missing our most recent annual emission reduction target, but decarbonising faster than the UK average.

“But rightly, just as with the UK Government, the CCC challenges us to go further. And that is exactly what we will do as today, I have announced a new package of climate action measures, which we will deliver with partners to support Scotland’s transition to net zero.”

Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants' Rights Patrick Harvie, said:

“The package of new climate measures announced today is absolutely critical, to ensure that Scotland gets back on track and can meet net zero, becoming one of the first countries in the world to end our contribution to climate change in a just and fair way.

“Only by working together across the political divide and with all levels of government, the public sector and the business community can we tackle the climate crisis with the pace and urgency required.

“We are making progress towards our goal of net zero by 2045 – as demonstrated by our recent consultation on proposals for a Heat in Buildings Bill which the Climate Change Committee described as a potential template for the rest of the UK. 

“We will now carry on working with stakeholders and communities to ensure progress is delivered fairly and in the right way, recognising the different needs of rural, island and urban areas.”

The announcement included new measures aimed at accelerating Scotland’s journey to net zero.  These build on the commitments set out in late March that farmers and crofters will be expected to take to receive agricultural support payments from 2025 – those set out in the Agricultural Reform Route Map.

Parts of the announcement relating to land use and agriculture sector are:

  • Tier 2 of the agriculture future support framework will be important for delivering outcomes for climate and nature. Following the First Minister’s announcement in February that the funding for Tiers 1 and 2 will constitute at least 70% of the overall funding envelope to support farming, crofting and land management from 2027, a further announcement about the proportion of funding between Tiers 1 and 2 will be made in June 2024.
  • New conditions for agriculture support from 2025 include a Whole Farm Plan within which two of five options must be chosen. Soil testing and Integrated Pest Management plans will form two of those options and we will add Nutrient Management Plans to the Whole Farm Plans by 2028, with the details developed through our co-design approach. Proportionate Carbon audits will be required by all farms receiving public support by 2028 at the latest.
  • a pilot scheme with some Scottish farms to establish future appropriate uptake of methane supressing feed products/additives which is a key measure to reduce emissions from livestock (where practically possible). This pilot will establish how future support can recognise uptake of these products as well as encouraging pioneering Scottish dairy farms to engage with the potential of these products. This will help inform and support the role out of methane supressing feed products, the first of which has recently received approval, to reduce emissions from livestock.
  • The Scottish Government will establish Regional Land Use Partnerships (RLUPs) as an initiative with coverage across Scotland by the end of the next Parliamentary term. This is beginning with the recruitment of up to three new areas over the next year, recognising successful partnership must be driven by communities from the bottom up.
  • Investigation of how partial re-wetting can co-exist with continued agricultural activity and access to Agricultural Support, and further research on costs and benefits of partial re-wetting, including up to £1 million invested in pilot partial re-wetting projects. This will inform potentially improved incentives for land managers to manage peatlands for nature and carbon from 2026 onwards. As part of this, we propose further research to understand the extent, depth and quality of peat under grassland.
  • build on the current Cairngorms Deer Pilot to develop a national scheme which incentivises increased management and investment in the venison supply chain.
  • consult on options for a carbon land tax on larger landholdings in summer 2024, as part of exploring regulatory and fiscal changes that could be made to further incentivise peatland restoration afforestation, and renewable energy generation.

Additional information