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Climate report identifies need for emission reduction pathways for transport

Published 04 March 2019 by

Today saw the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee publish the Stage 1 report on the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill. While the headlines relate to the Net Zero targets, some of the conclusions for the transport sector are potentially significant.

Transform welcomes the Committee’s finding that clear climate pathways need to be found to deliver emission reduction in sectors such as transport. Transport is the worst performing sector in emission reduction in Scotland and therefore requires significant attention if this Bill is to be a success. In Transform’s evidence to the Committee, Jess Pepper flagged how emission reduction could be achieved in the bus and rail sectors. Quoted in the report, Jess said:

“I will give an example of an ambition that we might aim for. The climate change plan aims for a policy outcome of increasing to 50 per cent by 2032 the proportion of the Scottish bus fleet that is low-emissions vehicles. The projection for the world’s buses is that about 47 per cent will be electric by 2025, and 13 cities internationally are committed to buying only zero-emissions buses from 2025—Shanghai and Shenzhen are already buying only such buses. That action involves 80 million people and 60,000 buses. If we are asking whether we should lead and be ahead of the curve or wait and follow others, we might be mindful that Scotland is home to two international bus operator companies. Scotland also makes buses and is a leader in producing clean electricity, so there are huge opportunities not only for our national bus fleet but for international activity in relation to buses to gain economic advantages.”

The Committee are critical of the Scottish Government’s lack of an ‘holistic’ approach in the Bill. Transform echoes the Committee’s concern that Transport was left out of the TIMES modelling run to determine costs; this once again shows a narrow view on emission reduction that does not address key sectors such as transport and agriculture. This is especially disappointing as the Committee on Climate Change in its report last September highlighted Transport as the ‘biggest sectoral challenge’. The failure to include transport, which remains the sector with the highest emissions, needs review if this Bill is to succeed in achieving net zero emissions. The report said:

” The Committee has concerns about the inconsistencies in the way sectors are dealt with. The Committee recommends that the Scottish Government give further consideration to the effectiveness of relying on a partial model (TIMES) that excludes a number of the most significant sectors in terms of ensuring emissions reductions. Failure to include sectors such as agriculture and transport and the financial implications of this is a significant omission”

Finally, the report rightly recognises the economic opportunities of net zero emissions. Treating emission reduction as an opportunity rather than a burden requires the Government to present these opportunities in a more positive light. The Transport sector has more opportunities for emission reduction than any other sector and they should be seen as a healthier and affordable alternative. Our full climate priorities can be found here.