A MINISTERIAL taskforce has been appointed to get to grips with Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions after reduction targets were missed for the third year in a row, the Environment Minister has announced.
A Cabinet sub-committee on climate change will aim to ensure co-ordination of the Government's strategic response to emissions, which rose slightly (0.8%) in 2012, bucking a general downward trend over the last decade. In 2012, emissions were estimated to be 55.6 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), above the target of 53.226 Mt.
Mr Wheelhouse said the sub-committee will complement the new Public Sector Climate Leaders' Forum and Scottish Government's Climate Change Delivery Board. "The membership of the sub-committee will include the Deputy First Minister, two other Cabinet secretaries and a range of Government ministers, further highlighting the importance of a cross-government approach on this crucial global issue," he said.
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"It is a further example of how Scotland is giving a leading example on tackling climate change."
Comparing Scotland's record to the rest of the UK, Mr Wheelhouse said: "The data indicates that Scotland has seen a 29.9% reduction in emissions of the basket of six key greenhouse gases between 1990 and 2012.
"On a comparable basis, using data published yesterday, this contrasts with a reduction of 23.9% for England, 17.7% for Wales and 15.0% for Northern Ireland.
"We also know emissions among all EU-28 members fell by 18.5% and for the EU-15 they fell by just 13.9% in the same period."
Environmental groups criticised the missed target but described the Government's action to tackle emissions as "promising".
Labour said the missed target is "deeply embarrassing" for the Government, while the Greens called for "bolder action".
The Conservatives said the Government should look to nuclear power and fracking to boost energy production "without harming the environment".
Gina Hanrahan, from Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, said: "It's been a difficult start to the implementation of the Climate Change Act, but the Scottish Government's package of new measures across different sectors such as energy efficiency, low-carbon travel and district heating looks promising."
Ian Marchant, chair of Scotland's 2020 Climate Group, called on "all sectors of Scottish society to reinvigorate efforts to meet the targets".
He added: "Scotland should be leading the way and demonstrating its credentials and this is only possible if people realise it's not going away. Climate change is not a scientific myth, and measures to reduce it should be a vital component of any successful business."