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A Low Carbon Economic Strategy for Scotland: Scotland - A Low Carbon Society


Section 1 - The Strategy

1.1 Towards a Low Carbon Economy

The Aspiration

The transition to a low carbon economy heralds an exciting but challenging economic and social transformation. By 2020, and certainly by 2050, Scotland will have a highly sustainable and prosperous economy where Scotland is a major player and beneficiary in the development of global low carbon markets.

The Scottish Government is committed to supporting the transition to a low carbon Scottish economy, necessary to meet our Climate Change Act 1 targets, to reduce emissions by 42% by 2020, and by 80% by 2050, and to seize business opportunities and a better quality of life. A low carbon economy will make us more resilient to unpredictable commodity and energy prices in an uncertain future world. People will have more sustainable travel choices and our children will be able to breathe clean air.

Within less than 10 years 80% of our electricity will be generated from renewables alongside a significant increase in recycling and reduction in waste to landfill. Our planning system will encourage active travel, our private transport will move away from dependency on oil, our homes will be insulated to a much higher standard and using low carbon heating systems. These changes will affect every individual and business, and internationally will help us to market Scotland as a low carbon destination of choice for tourists and business inward investment.

The move to our low carbon economy will be characterised on the one hand by high levels of resource efficiency and on the other, by the development of the low carbon goods, processes and services which can generate economic wealth and create jobs for Scotland. Everyone has a role to play in making the transition to a low carbon economy, from switching off a computer to the development of supply chains for the emerging offshore wind industry. While low carbon innovation and technology development are important, the application of technologies can only make a difference through changing the collective behaviour of business, individuals, communities and the public sector.

The Scottish Government has developed an ambitious set of targets to:

  • decarbonise electricity generation by 2030, largely decarbonise heat sector by 2050;
  • almost complete decarbonisation of road transport by 2050;
  • significant decarbonisation of rail by 2050; and.
  • establish a comprehensive approach to ensure that carbon is fully factored into strategic and local decisions about rural and urban land use.

This will stimulate action, allowing us to track progress against low carbon economic aims to:

  • increase the value of our low carbon goods and services sector to more than 10% of the Scottish economy by 2015 and continue to increase beyond and in doing so, create 60,000 green jobs;
  • provide 80% of our electricity, 11% of our heat production and 10% of our transport use from renewable sources by 2020; and,
  • reduce Scotland's final energy use by 12% through energy efficiency measures by 2020.

The Context

The Low Carbon Economic Strategy is an integral part of the Government's Economic Strategy 2 ( GES) to secure sustainable economic growth, and is a key component of our broader approach to meeting Scotland's climate change targets and securing the transition to a low carbon economy in Scotland 3, as illustrated below. It is closely linked to:

  • the draft Climate Change Report on Proposals and Policies 4, setting out actions to deliver emissions reductions to 2020 and beyond;
  • the Public Engagement Strategy 5, explaining our approach to engaging people about what they can do to help Scotland take action on climate change; and
  • the Energy Efficiency Action Plan 6, describing a programme of activity to improve energy efficiency in households, business and the public sector.

The Low Carbon Economic Strategy, (figure 1) seeks to establish strong policy direction around Scotland's key low carbon economic opportunities and strengthen business confidence in exploiting low carbon opportunities. In order to do this, it sets out:

  • the global economic opportunities that will arise in making the transition to a low carbon economy;
  • the drivers and barriers to the development of these opportunities and growth of the low carbon economy;
  • the role of government, and wider public sector in supporting business to overcome the barriers.

Figure 1: Low Carbon Economic Strategy

Figure 1: Low Carbon Economic Strategy

By exploiting commercial opportunities now, Scottish business and industry can maximise competitive advantage as the global economy moves to a low carbon basis. The focus of central and local government and wider public sector activity will be directed at areas where most added value can be achieved in meeting the strategic objectives set out in the Strategy. The global economic transition is inevitable and is the growth story of the future.

Section 1 of this document presents the Low Carbon Economic Strategy for Scotland identifying aims and outlining strategic objectives and immediate actions that government and the wider public sector are undertaking to support business and support the transition to a low carbon economy. Section 2 considers, in more detail, the specific challenges and opportunities for business and industry across the whole economy and the role of specific sectors.

Figure 2: Success underpinned by: Leadership - Ambition - Focus - Alignment

Figure 2: Success underpinned by: Leadership - Ambition - Focus - Alignment

Through the Strategic Forum and with SEPA, the Scottish Government will monitor progress against the aims and objectives of the strategy, and ensure the streamlined and co-ordinated delivery of the public sector support. It is anticipated that individual delivery partners will report on progress against actions in this document to support the transition to the Low Carbon Economy and future guidance letters will reflect these expectations.

Scotland's emissions have fallen by 21.2% from 1990, reaching the half way point in achieving our Climate Change Act target of reducing emissions by 42% by 2020. The Scottish Parliament passed an Order setting annual targets to 2022 on 7 October 2010, so as a Government, we can say, year-by-year, through very stretching annual targets, how we will drive emissions down to our overarching 2020 target of a 42% cut.