News > Climate figures generate Scottish storm
The Scottish government failed to meet its own climate change targets in 2010, which aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland by 42% by 2020. According the latest official figures greenhouse gas emissions rose by 1.9% on the 2009 figures, after taking emissions trading into account.
Climate Change Minister Stewart Stevenson blamed the figures on exceptionally cold weather conditions in Scotland's 2010 winter months. Mr Stevenson said "Scotland faced its coldest winter temperatures in almost a century - and quite rightly people across Scotland needed to heat their homes to keep warm and safe". He added: "The Scottish government remains fully committed to delivering ambitious and world-leading climate change targets. We always knew it would be a challenging path to follow when these were set and that year to year fluctuations were inevitable".
The minister said that significant progress had been made since 2010, including; 62% of Scottish households having a good energy efficiency rating, up from 55% from 2009. 2011 was also a record year for renewable energy output with 35% of Scotland's electricity coming from renewables.
However opposition parties have taken quite a different view of the findings, and a fierce argument has blown up about what the figures mean for the country's climate policy. Scottish Green Party's Patrick Harvie said: "The government can't get away with expressing shock that Scotland has cold winters some years; this failure of government policy can't be pinned on bad weather when they have delayed year after year the national, street-by-street effort we need to insulate Scotland's leaky homes."
Mike Robinson, from Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, said the country was proud of its political leadership in setting legislation on the issue, but it needed to translate into credible action on the ground. He said: "These figures underline the need for greater leadership in actually delivering reductions. World-leading climate legislation needs world-leading climate action."
Scottish Labour's climate change spokeswoman, Claudia Beamish, said the figures showed that the Scottish government had failed to deliver on the very first target under the Climate Chance Act. She added: "The minister blames the increase on the weather, and the UK committee on Climate Change has previously said that the figures for 2009 were the result of the economic downturn."
While there is much heated debate about many aspects of the weather in a rapidly changing climate, one area of agreement is that more extremes of weather is pretty much inevitable. However it seems that another inevitability is that not all the storms generated by our changing climate will be ones blowing in from the ocean.