1. Introduction

1. Introduction

This is the tenth edition of the Carbon Account for Transport, which presents a detailed analysis of already published Scottish Transport emission data from the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI). This edition follows the same structure as last year’s report, updating it to include the latest emissions data (1990 - 2016). This year’s edition also contains a detailed examination of plug in vehicle charging points in Scotland (section 3).

1.1 Policy Context

The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 created a statutory framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland. It includes annual and interim emissions targets with the overall aim of achieving an 80% reduction in emissions in 2050 against the 1990 baseline[1].

To help achieve the emissions reductions targets, The Scottish Government publishes regular statements and plans setting out how they can be achieved.  The latest Climate Change Plan (CCP)[2], published in February 2018, sets out a possible emissions pathway to 2032, alongside policy options to achieve the annual targets. The Climate Change Plan contained a commitment to publish annual monitoring reports to assess progress against the delivery of the Plan. The first of these was published on 31 October 2018.

The Scottish Government introduced the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament in May 2018 following advice from the Climate Change Committee. As introduced, the Bill would increase Scotland's ambition for emissions reduction by 2050 from 80% to 90% against 1990 levels, and adjust the way emissions are accounted for within the targets.

In the last five years, reductions in emissions from the power sector have enabled Scotland to reduce its overall emissions but meant that the share of Scotland’s emissions from transport has increased substantially.

Emissions from transport are dependent on a number of factors, including the state of the economy. The key challenge for transport in the context of greenhouse gas emissions is to decouple rising demand from emissions increases as much as possible. The next decade will be critical in setting road transport in particular on a pathway to decarbonisation, with other sectors to follow suit in due course. These challenges will be considered as part of Transport Scotland’s comprehensive review of the National Transport Strategy (NTS), focused around four themes: greener & healthier; enabling economic growth; tackling inequality; and delivering safe & resilient transport. The outcomes will inform the second Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2), for which planning is now underway. STPR2 will identify the transport interventions required to provide Scotland with a transport network fit for the 21st century.

Bold new plans for transport were announced in the Programme for Government 2017-2018, with a target set to phase out the need to buy petrol and diesel engine cars and vans by 2032. As the latest emissions figures available are for the period 1990-2016 they do not yet reflect the effects of this recent commitment.

1.2 Purpose of the Carbon Account for Transport

Reducing emissions is one of the key strategic outcomes of the National Transport Strategy. It includes a commitment to publish a carbon balance sheet for transport to show the impact of policies and projects expected to have an impact on transport emissions, whether positive or negative. This commitment is met by the Carbon Account for Transport (CAT), which is published annually.

The CAT provides updates on the following information:

  • Scottish transport emissions from 1990 to 2016
  • Comparison of Scottish emissions with those of the UK as a whole, and other UK nations
  • Emissions efficiency estimates across different modes of transport
  • Key leading transport emissions indicators
  • Scottish transport infrastructure projects likely to have a significant impact on emissions
  • Scottish, UK and EU wide regulatory and fiscal measures likely to impact emissions

Each of the above monitors progress towards reducing transport emissions and support the development of future policies to meet the statutory targets. However, the CAT is not a decision making tool. Its purpose is to present data and analysis for the consideration of future transport options. The CAT is an element of a wider framework adopted across The Scottish Government to monitor emissions.