Friends of the Earth Scotland have commented on the Scottish Government’s update to the Climate Change Plan.

Whilst the Plan is light on transformative policies, it has recognised that changes are needed in how we move around, heat our homes and plan the transition to a zero carbon economy.

Campaigners raised concerns that the Scottish Government is investing tens of millions in technologies not proven at the scale envisaged such as Carbon Capture and Storage, Bio Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage and Hydrogen. 

Despite their uncertain status, these “Negative Emission Technologies” the Government is relying heavily on them in the late 2020s to meet their legally-binding commitments.

Campaigners also highlighted that the updated Plan fails to set out measures to support the workforce, employers and communities as part of the shift to a zero carbon economy, despite the Just Transition Commission’s express recommendation.

Key elements of the Plan

* 20% reduction in kilometres driven by car by 2030
* £180mill for investment in CCS, fossil Hydrogen
* No new action on waste post-2025
* Phasing out the need for new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030

The Plan had to be updated to reflect the improvement in climate targets agreed by MSPs in the 2019 Climate Act. The Act means the 2030 target has increased from 66% reduction in emissions to a 75% reduction in emissions compared to 1990 levels.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Climate Campaigner Jess Cowell said:

“Updating the Climate Change Plan was an opportunity for the Scottish Government to set out how it would achieve the targets set in last year’s Climate Act. While there are welcome policy improvements, unfortunately, there are very real doubts that this Plan as a whole will actually deliver on these commitments and some sectors have been let off doing their fair share. Delivering on our climate commitments should be an opportunity to deliver huge improvements for people and the planet.

“Towards the end of this decade, the Plan relies heavily on illusory promises of Carbon Capture, hydrogen from gas and hare-brained schemes to burn trees for energy. There is a very real concern that Negative Emission Technologies are being used as a ‘get out of jail free’ card by the Government to make their figures add up rather than doing the hard work of cutting emissions in the here and now.

“Public money would deliver more jobs, faster emissions cuts and bigger boosts to wellbeing if it was invested in a range of renewables and energy efficiency measures instead of being wasted on carbon capture, fossil hydrogen and other industries pushed by the oil and gas industry.

“With the UN climate talks coming to Glasgow next year, and the clock ticking on solving the climate crisis, Scotland needs a bold plan setting out steps to phase out fossil fuel extraction and use, while ensuring a just transition for workers and communities dependent on the industry.”


Cowell continued,

“Although the Plan uses the words ‘just transition’ a lot it doesn’t back them up with clear plans for each sector, for creating good green jobs in Scotland, nor for the communities most likely to be affected. The failure to set out how Ministers will support the workforce in moving to a zero carbon economy as part of this climate plan, despite the express recommendation of the Just Transition Commission, exposes how empty this rhetoric is.”

“This plan sets the framework for cutting carbon emissions in Scotland over the crucial next decade for climate action, but the work to deliver a transition that protects the livelihoods of workers and communities can’t wait 5 years until the next climate change plan kicks in, it has to start now.


“Bringing the phase out in fossil fuelled vehicles forward to 2030 will deliver real benefits in terms of reducing harmful air pollution on our streets as well as driving down climate emissions. The commitment to reduce road kilometres driven is very welcome given transport’s role as our most polluting sector but lacks detail and the specific actions that will add up to this change.”


“Sectors such as agriculture and industry have gotten off very lightly in this plan with the Government seemingly content to let factories and farmers keep on polluting whilst other areas of Scottish life being asked to pick up their slack. There was no serious attempt to address Scotland’s pollution hub at Grangemouth despite the government’s official climate advisors recommending that the plastic and petrochemical site was ripe for improvement.“

“Despite warm words there is almost no new action on waste from 2025 onwards nor is there any commitment to bring back the Circular Economy Bill which could be a game-changer in terms of resource use and the emissions that come with that.


“MSPs from all parties must now work to ensure that this plan can boost public transport to ensure more us can stay connected, scale up action for warmer homes and cleaner air and redesign our economy so that it is fit for a zero carbon future. “


Climate Change Plan Update 

This month, the Danish Government announced that they would cancel their next North Sea oil and gas licensing round, ban on future offshore licencing (following an onshore ban in 2018), and a ban on all offshore production by 2050

The Climate Change Plan was due to be published in Spring 2020 but was delayed due to Covid 19.  https://www.gov.scot/news/climate-change-plan-update/

Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.