Scotland is doing better than the rest of the country at tackling climate change, with considerable progress in switching to clean energy.
However, in a new report government advisers have stated that there is no room for complacency as these successes mask failures to clean up other sectors such as transport and agriculture.
The country has been able to make a big impact by investing in renewable energy sources over fossil fuels – action that saw emissions drop by 10 per cent in 2016 alone.
However, following the closure of the country’s last remaining coal-fired plant that same year, the Committee on Climate Change has urged the Scottish government to broaden its scope.
“Scotland continues to lead the UK in reducing its emissions and has ambitious targets which aim to go further,” said Lord Deben, chair of the committee.
“Decarbonisation of Scotland’s electricity sector, and reductions in emissions from waste, have seen Scotland outperform the UK overall as emissions continue to fall year-on-year to nearly half of 1990 levels.”
While the government had made some progress in tackling issues raised by the committee last year, Lord Deben said “challenges remain”.
In May, Scotland released a new climate change bill that commits the country to cutting its emissions by 90 per cent by 2050.
This is more ambitious than the rest of the UK, which is currently aiming for an 80 per cent reduction within the same timeframe.
“Achieving a 90 per cent cut in emissions by 2050, as envisaged within the new climate-change bill, means greater effort is now required across other areas of Scotland’s economy,” said Lord Deben.
“This includes policies to drive down emissions in sectors where they are either flat or rising, such as transport, agriculture and energy-efficiency in buildings.
“Without real action in these areas, Scotland may fall short of its long-term goals.”
Among the actions recommended by the committee were a faster phase-out of diesel and petrol vehicles and renewed focus on tree-planting and peatland restoration – as targets for both have been repeatedly missed.
Some campaigners expressed disappointment when the 90 per cent target was first announced, as it fell short of the “net zero” target of 100 per cent reductions that many feel is essential if the nation is to meet the targets set by the Paris climate agreement.
The UK’s clean growth minister Claire Perry has said the committee will be asked this October to reassess the appropriate level of emissions reductions for the UK, following the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s major report.
This has been welcomed by experts who say it opens the possibility of net zero reductions.
The committee says it will also consider how this updated advice affects Scotland’s future emissions targets.