By Roseanna Cunningham Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change

SCOTLAND’S status as an international climate change leader will be reinforced through proposals set out in a consultation launched today, which will look to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 90 per cent by 2050. By setting out this long-term approach in our proposed Climate Change Bill we are showing that we remain resolutely committed to the fight against climate change.

Our targets may be challenging but they also mark a new level of ambition in our work to build a prosperous low carbon economy, and a fairer, healthier Scotland.

The proposals make provision for a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target to be set as soon as a credible and costed pathway can be demonstrated and also include a consultation on a number of technical amendments which have been designed to improve the transparency of the targets.

This publication arrives against a backdrop of recent figures which showed Scotland met its annual greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for the second consecutive year and is comfortably on track to meet its 2020 target. The statistics also highlighted that we continue to outperform the UK as a whole in delivering long-term reductions.

Our draft Climate Change Plan sets out a package of measures across transport, heat, electricity generation and energy efficiency which will help us go further. Key chapters include our vision for the transport sector to be significantly de-carbonised by 2032, freeing communities from harmful vehicle emissions, investing in public transport and active travel, and in low carbon technologies like electric cars and vans, hybrid ferries, green buses and the infrastructure they require.

Next year we will also introduce our first low-emission zone and we will evaluate the scope of urban-wide low emission zones with a specific focus on CO2 emissions, as well as air pollution more generally.

In electricity generation we have just set a new record for renewables and expect to have almost entirely de-carbonised by 2025, through a mix of energy generation technologies and we will increasingly rely on electricity to power vehicles and, along with other low carbon and renewable technologies, heat our homes.

Scottish households should save hundreds of millions of pounds on their fuel bills over the lifetime of the plan, and thousands of jobs will be supported through the development of energy efficiency as well as renewable heat services and technologies.

In the immediate term as we work to finalise the draft plan, we have reopened our Climate Challenge Fund for 2018-19 applications which will help communities reduce carbon emissions in their areas. This builds on the £86 million investment that we have made in more than 600 communities since 2008.

We are investing in research which will improve our understanding of the role and benefits of blue carbon in Scotland – that’s the carbon captured in oceans and coastal ecosystems.

Our seas produce more than half of the oxygen we breathe, but they also have a critical function in absorbing some of the carbon we produce. Scottish Natural Heritage’s recent report estimated the amount of carbon stored within our inshore Marine Protected Areas network is equivalent to four years of our total greenhouse gas emissions.

Moving towards the new targets in our proposed Climate Change Bill will strengthen our position at the forefront of the global transition to a low-carbon economy. I would encourage anyone with an interest to respond to the consultation, which will run until September 22.