Scotland’s climate targets at risk unless meaningful action starts now

The Climate Change Committee’s latest assessment of Scotland’s progress in reducing emissions concludes that the Scottish Government lacks a clear delivery plan and has not offered a clear and quantified assessment of how its policies combine to achieve its reduction targets.

The report, released on 7 December, recognises Scotland’s ‘extraordinary ambition’ to decarbonise the economy, with a welcome focus on a fair and just transition. But it notes that ‘Scotland has failed to achieve 7 out of 11 of its targets to date. The trend of failure will continue without urgent and strong action to deliver emissions reductions, starting now.’

The report calls for a number of actions across different sectors with an impact on emissions, including transport and buildings. Plans to decarbonise transport in Scotland are falling behind, with uptake of electric vehicles behind the rest of the UK and a lack of sufficient levers or comprehensive plan to deter car use and meet Scotland’s target to reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030. When it comes to buildings, although Scotland has supported local energy and heat network planning, lack of adequate policies in place mean that low-carbon heat and energy efficiency improvements are not being delivered at the required rate. The report notes that buildings targets are set at double the annual deployment rate that is considered realistic by the Climate Change Committee, even in the most ambitious scenarios.

Issues in cross-cutting areas like governance and adaptation are noted, including insufficient cooperation with the UK government, despite the dependence of Scottish decarbonisation on sectors that are reserved to a greater extent. At a local level, not enough coordination from the Scottish Government, lack of powers and necessary levers to deliver on a local level, and need for clarity around local authorities’ role is holding back meaningful progress towards national ambition and risks Net Zero policy being rolled out at different speeds in different areas.

The report also notes that both policy design and public funding for climate-related programmes suffer from ‘fragmentation and short-termism’ which prevents longer-term action delivering on Net Zero outcomes. It calls for multi-year funding to provide the certainty to create longer-term workplans.

Zoe Holliday, CEO of Community Energy Scotland, said, ‘If Scotland is to meet its ambitious emissions reductions targets, then comprehensive and decisive action needs to start now. Our members have an important role to play in mobilising their communities and reaching out to fuel poor and vulnerable people in their areas by supporting uptake of energy efficiency improvements, low-carbon heat, and active travel. But this can only happen against a backdrop of a clear delivery plan for Scotland, with associated long-term funding.’

Leading on Orkney’s electric community transport

The outer isles communities of Hoy and Eday now have their own electric vehicles to provide low-carbon community transport services.

The vehicles replace those already being used by both communities in their on-demand transport services. Community Energy Scotland are proud to have been able to support the residents of Hoy and Eday in securing and delivering the new transport as part of the ReFLEX Orkney project. More information on the project is available on our website here and on the ReFLEX website.

Each community has received two Nissan eNV-200 electric vehicles: one seven seater capacity and the other is a five seater plus wheelchair access. The vehicles have been in use since last summer and been particularly valuable during the coronavirus outbreak.

The vehicles have been put to use alongside the existing community bus, which was running a scheduled service between Longhope and the ferry terminal at Lyness before the pandemic. Since the vehicles were delivered last March they have supported various community activities during lockdown. The vehicles have provided another transport option for those with particular health care needs or with limited mobility as part of the Development Trust’s dial-a-bus service. This has included the delivery of prescriptions and essential supplies to islanders including, but not limited to, those who have been shielding for the duration of the outbreak.

Deborah Jaques, Chair of The Island of Hoy Development Trust

A similar story exists in Eday, where the vehicles have been used by directors and volunteers from the Eday Partnership since June. Services have included food box deliveries, hot meals, parcels, shopping, prescriptions and even school work.

Eday Partnership reaches out to the whole of the island’s community, responding to the needs and interests of local residents. The vehicles allow us to continue playing an active role in supporting and strengthening the local community, while enabling improved mobility, responsiveness and flexibility in delivering these services. Since August, we have been using the vehicles to provide the school bus run, picking up the island’s children. More recently, as part of our wellbeing project, we have been using the vehicles for transporting our residents around the island and this is something that we are looking to make into a regular service.  Mobility is a big issue on Eday and now that we have a vehicle that is wheelchair accessible, this really has the potential to improve the lives of our residents.

Mellissa Thomson from The Eday Partnership

Mellisa also added: “At Eday Partnership, we are always looking to how we can best serve the community that we represent, and these vehicles go a great way to help us achieve the aims and objectives of our Development Trust.”

Community group collaboration with Community Energy Scotland as part the ReFLEX Orkney project demonstrates one of the ways that innovative, low-carbon technology can be made available to the public. Now that Hoy and Eday own their own electric vehicles, all local residents can now access low-carbon transport.

The communities were already taking initiative to improve transport and mobility in their communities by working with CES and being part of the ReFLEX project when the pandemic hit. It was really fortunate timing (and thanks to a lot of quick hard work!) to get the first vehicles in before the first lockdown and these last months have really shown what we can do for ourselves as communities with local action and ownership of solutions.

Mark Hull, CES Head of Innovation

Work is underway, led by CES via the ReFLEX project, on both islands to install electric vehicle charge points. Once these are up and running they will be managed by the Hoy Development Trust and the Eday Partnership.

Similar work is also taking place on Shapinsay, where CES is assisting the Shapinsay Development Trust to add to their existing community transport network with a 5 seater Nissan eNV-200 with wheelchair access and upgrade to a smart charger. The Trust operates an on-demand, donation based transport service for Shapinsay residents and community groups.

CES ReFLEX webpage

ReFLEX project website

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