Scottish government scraps 2030 climate target 

The Scottish Government has announced that it is scrapping its 2030 interim net zero target. Changeworks calls out the government’s negligence. Its reckless lack of proportionate action has brought us to this point. 

Until today, the government had a legal obligation to reduce Scotland’s carbon emissions by 75% by 2030. The decision to scrap this commitment follows the Climate Change Committee’s recent announcement that, based on the government’s lack of progress, the 2030 goal was “no longer credible”. 

The scrapping of interim targets raises wider concern over Scotland’s ultimate goal: net zero by 2045. To keep this goal viable, it is critical that the government shows leadership and takes the actions it has repeatedly failed to take. In particular, we need to see the delayed Heat in Buildings Bill prioritised and passed during the next parliament.

How did we get here? 

In September 2023, First Minister Humza Yousaf promised that Scotland would provide “moral leadership” on the climate crisis.  In a speech at New York Climate Week, the First Minister said: 

“We are collectively guilty of catastrophic negligence and our children have every right to be angry and they have every right, quite frankly, not to forgive us if we do not step up.” 

Now, just over six months later, the government is stepping back from its climate commitments at home. In response, Changeworks’ Chief Executive, Josiah Lockhart, said:  

“As we’ve told the government before, ambition means nothing without action. There have been countless warnings: in the last twelve years, Scotland has missed its annual emissions targets eight times. We were always going to get to the point where the government had to move the goal posts, and it’s frustrating it’s taken them this long to realise the impact of their inaction. People are right to be outraged. We’re at this point because the government have failed to act. We’ve been thoroughly failed by those who promised strong leadership.” 

How do we get to net zero on time? 

Alongside the dropping of the 2030 target, the Scottish Government has announced a package of measures to tackle the climate crisis. The full detail of the measures has yet to be made public, but Changeworks understands that they will focus on three main areas. These are: agriculture and land use, transport, and a just transition.   

Changeworks is reassured that the Heat in Buildings Bill has not been rolled back. However, it is already overdue. The emphasis now must be on passing this legislation as quickly as possible. According to the legislative timeline, this would be during the next session of parliament. 

The Heat in Buildings Bill sets out how we reduce emissions in Scottish buildings. Buildings account for around 20% of Scotland’s carbon emissions, therefore any move to net zero has to include support for energy efficiency and renewable heating in our homes. In another example of unsatisfactory progress, the Heat in Buildings Bill has only just finished its consultation phase.  

Only the Scottish Government can create the policy environment which will drive decarbonisation. Both the public and businesses need clear guidance on switching to low carbon heating. Policies also need to be in place to ensure a just transition, where those least able to make the switch are most supported. This is exactly what the Heat in Buildings Bill should provide.  

At Changeworks, we call for the Heat in Buildings Bill to be passed during the next session of parliament. This is vital if we are to have a chance of meeting our 2045 net zero target. Chief Executive Josiah said:  

“Despite the government’s climate rhetoric, we are so far behind where Scotland needs to be. Empty words got us to this point. We don’t want more promises. We don’t want more delay. What we need is meaningful leadership and action. This must include clear, consistent direction and policies which meet the scale and pace of the worsening climate emergency.” 

This action includes an interim plan between now and the next sitting of parliament. As well as strong action on its named priorities, the government must address the other areas which are essential to reaching net zero.