Climate Change Targets Bill

Closes 16 Aug 2024

Opened 5 Jul 2024

Overview

The Scottish Government has announced it will introduce legislation to amend its approach to setting targets for carbon emission reduction. It intends to move to a system of 5-yearly carbon budgets and away from a system of annual targets. The Scottish Government intends to lodge the Bill in the Scottish Parliament “as soon as possible after [Summer] recess”.

The Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Energy has said that the existing target for emission reduction by 2030 is out of reach but that the Government remains committed to the target of net zero emissions by 2045. This new legislation is expected to propose a new framework for re-setting interim emission reduction ambitions.

The legislation is also likely to change the date by which the next Climate Change Plan (CCP) - the Government’s strategic delivery plan for meeting emissions reduction targets - is due. Currently, the legal deadline for laying the draft CCP in Parliament is November 2024.

Climate change and net zero, including targets, fall within the remit of the Net Zero, Energy and Transport (NZET) Committee. The Committee has agreed to carry out pre-legislative scrutiny in view of the Scottish Government’s stated intention to “expedite” the Bill through the Parliament.

Questions

Part One – Carbon budgets

1. Do you agree or disagree with the proposed shift to 5-yearly carbon budgets (in place of current system of annual targets)?

  • Please set out any advantages or disadvantages of a 5 yearly carbon budget approach in Scotland
  • Please set out any advantages or disadvantages of retaining the current annual target system

2. What are your views on the advantages and disadvantages of carbon budgets / targets being expressed as a percentage reduction or as absolute levels of emissions?

3. The Climate Change Committee (CCC) suggested that the Scottish Government should consider aligning the proposed 5 yearly carbon budgets with the periods that are used for UK carbon budgets (i.e. 2023-27, 2028 – 32, 2033-2037 and 2038-42). What are the advantages and disadvantages of alignment with UK carbon budget periods?

4. At the end of a carbon budget period, there can be a surplus or deficit of emissions reductions. What do you think the legislation should say about how future surplus or deficits in emission reductions are dealt with?

5. In early 2025, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) will advise the UK on the level of its Seventh Carbon Budget. This is the legal limit for UK net emissions of greenhouse gases over the years 2038 to 2042.

The CCC have suggested that could be used as the basis for advice on appropriate levels for carbon budgets in Scotland.

The Cabinet Secretary told the Committee that this ‘might be the point at which we are able to have clarity on the targets, and I would want a plan to be produced very quickly thereafter’.

  • Should the Scottish Government wait for the planned advice on the UK’s seventh carbon budget from the CCC, before setting their carbon budgets?
  • Should the Scottish Government propose multiple 5-year carbon budgets in 2025 up to the year 2042?
  • How soon after the Scottish Government has received advice from the CCC should it propose their carbon budgets?
  • What should the process of parliamentary scrutiny look like for the laying of carbon budgets and plans for meeting budgets?

Part Two – Climate Change Plan

6. Under the current statutory regime, the legal deadline for laying a draft of the Climate Change Plan (CCP) is November 2024. This Plan was due to apply to the period of 2025-2040. The Scottish Government intends to use the Bill to change the timing for the production of the CCP.

  • Do you have views on when and how the Scottish Government should publish their plans for meeting the proposed carbon budgets?
  • What period should the next Climate Change Plan cover?
  • Do you think the current requirements for Climate Change Plans within the existing legislation provide an effective regulatory framework?
  • Are there any other aspects of the current legal framework for the creation of Climate Change Plans that you think should be updated?

Part Three: Monitoring and reporting

7. The Scottish Government has confirmed that their annual reporting on progress towards targets will be retained. The CCC have however, suggested that if 5-yearly budgets are adopted in Scotland, CCC reporting may move from a system of annual Scottish ‘Progress’ reports to two dedicated reports on Scottish progress every 5 years.

  • What are your views on whether there should be changes to the existing Scottish Government monitoring and reporting framework?
  • What are your views on the potential changes to the level of Scottish reporting provided by the CCC?

8. A Bill, according to the Standing Orders of the Scottish Parliament, must “..be accompanied by a Financial Memorandum which sets out best estimates of the costs, savings, and changes to revenues to which the provisions of the Bill would give rise, and an indication of the margins of uncertainty in such estimates.” (Rule 9.3.2).

  • The 2045 target will not be amended. How much do you estimate it would cost to achieve that target?
  • Are current spending levels on policies to achieve this in line with what is required?

Budget

  • How can the Scottish Government use this year’s Budget to ensure all portfolio areas are focused on achieving the 2045 target?
  • Has the inclusion of a Climate Change Assessment of the Budget improved outcomes and progress towards a target?
  • What are your views on the presentation of the Climate Change Assessment and are there any changes you would like to see to this?

How to submit your views

Please submit your views using the online submission form, linked to below.

We welcome written views in English, Gaelic, Scots or any other language. 

The call for views closes on 16 August 2024.

Interests

  • NZET