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Climate target exceeded - but more must be done

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Scottish Government meets emissions target six years early, but so much more needs to be done

Greenhouse gas output has been hugely reduced in Scotland – but environmental charities say that’s not good enough.

While welcoming news that Scotland has exceeded a target to reduce emissions by 42% six years early, the Stop Climate Chaos coalition said bolder action is now needed by the Scottish Government.

New statistics show that 2014 emission levels were 45.8% lower than in 1990.

However, environmentalists say this is partly a result of climate change, as warmer winters reduce consumption, added to the loss of heavy industry.

In the meantime, major greenhouse effect drivers like transport emissions remain stuck at 1990 levels.

It's hard to see a bold fingerprint of Scottish Government policy driving the transition to a zero carbon economy

Stop Climate Chaos spokesman Jim Densham said: "It's great news that Scotland has hit our internationally symbolic 42% emissions reduction target six years early. This shows it's possible to cut emissions while building a progressive and productive society.

"However apart from the electricity and waste sectors, it's hard to see a bold fingerprint of Scottish Government policy driving the transition to a zero carbon economy. This target has been met because of the loss of heavy industry, warmer winter weather, our changing share of European emissions credits and some government policies.

"Individual action is important but Scottish Government needs to lead with the big policies for major emission reductions.

“The challenge ahead is to tackle the sectors where there's been little change to date, like transport where our emissions remain stalled at 1990 levels and housing where emissions have reduced only 1% since the Scottish Climate Change Act was passed.

“In transport the Scottish Government has so far failed to introduce any serious policies to reduce emissions. In housing, we're calling for an ambitious plan and budget for the proposed new energy efficiency programme including a regulatory framework for leveraging private investment.”

Climate change secretary Roseanna Cunningham said the figures represented "outstanding progress" and confirmed that the government would now set a "new and more testing 2020 target".

The minister added: "This is an especially important time for climate change, in light of the international agreement reached in Paris last December and it is great news that Scotland continues to show ambition and demonstrates the progress that can be made.

"We will continue to rise to the challenge and the first minister has already confirmed that the Scottish government plans to establish a new and more testing 2020 target.

"We are not complacent and we will continue to take action and encourage others to do their bit to tackle climate change."

Cunningham said the statistics showed that Scotland had outperformed the rest of the UK as a whole.