Comments on the Scottish Government's Climate Change Plan
Professor Karen Turner
20 January 2017
Scottish Government's Draft Climate Change Plan
The new Climate Change Plan lays out plans for achieving what are very ambitious carbon reduction targets – retaining the long-term target set last year of an 80% reduction by 2050, but introducing a new interim target of 66% by 2032. The Plan identifies technological pathways for the energy system by which these targets can be met, albeit in the absence of key potential ‘game changers’, such as hydrogen, that are not available to us yet and we just don’t know enough about.
However, there are some real political and public policy challenges in terms of how we might achieve these targets. A core problem for addressing climate change is who ultimately can, and will, take responsibility for action. The Scottish Government must secure “buy-in” from many different actors; from local authorities to firms, to the millions of citizens living in Scotland who need to heat their homes and live comfortably.
If people aren’t willing or able, financially or practically, to participate, Government needs to find a means to ‘bring them on board’. This can be attempted in a range of ways, but options open to the Scottish Government are limited by what tools and levers it has at its disposal, and by the political and social environment.
Between the Climate Change Plan and the forthcoming Scottish Energy Efficiency Plan, some quite radical proposals are up for discussion, such as energy efficiency standards in the housing market. How well such approaches work will depend on the way they are implemented and of equal importance, how they are received.