THE SNP-Green government has been accused of “empty rhetoric and broken promises” after greenhouse gas emissions rose in its first year and a legally binding target was missed. 

Official data showed emissions from a basket of seven greenhouse gases including methane and carbon dixoide went up 2.4 per cent in 2021 after a pandemic slump.

The Government’s long-term interim target was to cut emissions by 51.1% compared to a 1990 baseline by 2021.

However the overall reduction so far is 49.9%.

It was the eighth time in 12 years that the legally binding target had been missed.

The SNP said it was "disappointing", while the Scottish Greens said it was "not good enough".

Scotland emitted 41.6million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) gases in 2021, including international aviation and shipping, up from 40.6 MtCO2e in 2020. 

The main contributors to the rise were domestic transport (+1.1 MtCO2e) after the impact of the COVID lockdown in 2020, and residential (+0.4 MtCO2e).  

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However emissions went down in the energy (-0.5 MtCO2e), business (-0.2 MtCO2e) and international aviation and shipping (-0.1 MtCO2e) sectors.  

The Scottish Greens entered into a joint government arrangement with the SNP in the second half of 2021 after that year’s Holyrood election.

Tory MSP Liam Kerr said: “Yet again, the SNP-Green government’s rhetoric on tackling climate change has not been matched in reality.

“After only meeting their 2020 targets due to lockdowns, SNP-Green ministers are once again going backwards when it comes to hitting crucial targets.

“It is particularly galling that they missed their emission reduction target in the year that the UK Government brought the COP26 summit to Glasgow.

“The SNP-Green government cannot continue to deflect from their failures on such a serious issue. Time is fast running out to achieve ambitious net zero targets, and it is time we finally see ministers take the action required to do so.”

Scottish Labour Net Zero spokesperson Sarah Boyack added: “Rising emissions are not only an embarrassment for the SNP-Green government but a disaster for our planet. 
“The SNP’s record on the environment is one of empty rhetoric and broken promises, and the Green party are no longer worthy of the name.
“Labour’s transformative green investment plan will not only drive down emissions, but will reduce energy bills and unlock the jobs and opportunities of the future.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam Mcarthur said the Scottish Govermment were "serial failures when it comes to hitting our national climate change targets".

He said: "In the first year that the Scottish Greens were in government source emissions actually rose. It seems that Patrick Harvie and co's role in government is simply to whitewash SNP failures.

"In the transport and residential sectors things have gone backwards.

"The Scottish Government should be launching a comprehensive national insulation programme.

"Not only would this reduce emissions by making houses more energy efficient, it would also reduce bills for Scots during a cost-of-living crisis.

"Greener transport must be made the easy option with a far wider rollout of EV chargers, communities put in charge of when and where buses go, and cheaper train fares instead of the hike handed down by SNP/Green ministers last week.”

The Stop Climate Chaos Coalition said the drop in 2020’s figures as a result of the Covid lockdown had been a “hollow success” and "bold new action" was required.

Chairman Mike Robinson added: "Every missed target means more effort is required the following year, making it harder to meet our crucial goals."

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Scottish Green climate spokesperson Mark Ruskell MSP said: “These statistics are not good enough. They underline the scale of the challenge that we face, and are exactly why the Scottish Greens went into government in the first place.

“Today’s stats reflect yesterday’s choices - sometimes choices made decades ago. So it tells us that tackling the climate emergency won’t be achieved by business as usual but. It will need concerted effort and the kind of long term changes that we are putting in place now. 

“But at every step of the way we face massive resistance from opposition parties who seem to think that the climate emergency can be tackled through wishful thinking. 

"They have all supported the targets to reduce emissions but have opposed and attacked the very policies needed to deliver them: from reducing city centre traffic through low emission zones through tackling litter via the Deposit Return Scheme that has been sabotaged by Westminster.

“In November we will publish the draft Climate Plan. Today’s figures underline the challenge it has to rise to.”

SNP Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan said: "To miss Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 51.1% so narrowly – by just 1.2 percentage points - is of course, disappointing but it also demonstrates that we are not far behind where our world-leading targets dictate we should be.  

“While the 2021 results show a rebound from 2020, this was not unexpected given how much the 2020 position was affected by pandemic lockdowns.

"Indeed, Scotland is not unique in experiencing an increase. UK emissions rebounded by 4.4% over the period, compared to 2.4% in Scotland.

“It is important to remember that these statistics do not reflect the additional and boosted climate policies introduced into our updated Climate Change Plan, which was only finalised in March 2021 in response to the Climate Change Act 2019 being passed, and these new, stretching annual targets being set.

“As the real life impacts of Climate Change become increasingly clear, we must go further and faster, and we will be introducing a draft of our new Climate Change Plan later this year, which will contain even greater ambition while steering our emissions reduction pathway out to 2040."