We will achieve net zero by 2045, Yousaf vows as interim goal to be axed

Mairi McAllan is expected to drop the target of reducing emissions by 75% by 2030.

Craig Paton
Thursday 18 April 2024 13:08 BST
Humza Yousaf was speaking at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Humza Yousaf was speaking at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)

The Scottish Government will not miss its target of reaching net zero by 2045 by a single day, Humza Yousaf has vowed as ministers are set to ditch an interim goal to reduce emissions by 75%.

Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan will address Holyrood later on Thursday and is expected to abandon the Government’s 2030 target, which was described as “beyond credible” by the Climate Change Committee (CCC), and lay the blame firmly at the feet of the UK Government.

Speaking during First Minister’s Questions, Mr Yousaf said her statement will outline a series of policies to accelerate the move to net zero – but did not dispute that the interim target will be scrapped.

This Government will not move back by a single month, a week or even a day from that 2045 target for achieving net zero

Humza Yousaf

Instead, he reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to achieving net zero by 2045.

“This Government will not move back by a single month, a week or even a day from that 2045 target for achieving net zero,” he said.

“Let’s be clear, the CCC were always clear with us that the 2030 target was a stretch target.

“That was clear to all of us when we all committed, we all backed that target in the first place.

“But what doesn’t change, and what won’t change, is that end destination of 2045.”

He said Ms McAllan will bring forward an “accelerated package of climate action”, and he urged opposition MSPs to back the Government’s plans.

Responding, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar described the First Minister’s argument as “embarrassing”, adding: “That may have worked with (Scottish Green co-leaders and Government ministers) Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, but it’s not working with the Scottish people.”

He later added: “Humza Yousaf is rowing back on his climate targets and the Green Party is backing him up.

“This SNP-Green Government’s failures mean higher bills, fewer green jobs and other countries winning the global race for clean energy.”

He said Labour – if elected in the upcoming general election – will upgrade insulation in homes, create 50,000 “clean power jobs”, and create an energy generation firm headquartered in Scotland.

The First Minister said one thing missing from the list of actions from Mr Sarwar was the dropped pledge to invest £28 billion in the green economy, adding that instead Scotland will get a “brass plaque” on the headquarters of the proposed GB Energy “that will undoubtedly match the brass neck that Labour has”.

In a statement released on Thursday morning, Ms McAllan said taking action to tackle the twin crises of climate change and nature loss is the “defining global issue of our era”.

She added: “Whilst we are faced with a UK Government which is rowing back on climate action, and hostile to measures already adopted by nations across the world like the deposit return scheme, the progress we have made since Scotland declared a global climate emergency in 2019 and since Glasgow hosted Cop26 in 2021 is now at risk.

“This cannot continue. The future of our planet and the security of future generations is far too important.

“Tackling climate change is an environmental imperative and our moral obligation. However, done correctly, it can also present perhaps the single greatest social and economic opportunity of many generations in Scotland.

“To achieve this, our work must be taken forward in a way that is ambitious and fair, which empowers communities and recognises the different needs of rural, island and urban areas.

“This Government is absolutely committed to tackling the climate crisis with the urgency and pace which is required. However, to do so we need collective will and a common sense of priority.

“I call on all parties in the Scottish Parliament to put politics aside, to reject culture wars, and to back our efforts. This is our collective mission in which we cannot fail.”

The Scottish Conservatives said scrapping the interim goal will be an “abject humiliation” for the SNP and Green Government at Holyrood.

Net zero spokesman Douglas Lumsden said: “For all the boasting about their supposed environmental credentials, the reality is a succession of missed targets – and being forced to throw in the towel on this flagship pledge represents the biggest failure of the lot.

“This climbdown is not a surprise, given the damning report from the Climate Change Committee, but it is symptomatic of a nationalist coalition that routinely over-promises and under-delivers.”

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in