Carbon Account For Transport No. 3: 2011/12 Edition

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 Policy Context

The recently updated Government Economic Strategy[1] re-states that the Purpose of the Scottish Government is to:

"focus the Government and public services on creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth" (The Government Economic Strategy 2011, p12).

In support of the Strategy, the Climate Change (Scotland) Act[2] creates the statutory framework for greenhouse gas emissions reductions in Scotland by setting an interim 42% reduction target for 2020, and an 80% reduction target for 2050. To help ensure the delivery of these targets, the Act also requires Scottish Ministers to set batches of annual targets for Scottish emissions in the period 2010 to 2050. In October 2010, the Scottish Parliament passed legislation setting the first batch of annual targets for the years 2010 to 2022[3].

Finalised in March 2011, Low Carbon Scotland: Meeting the Emissions Reduction Targets 2010-2022: The Report on Proposals and Policies[4], and the Low Carbon Economic Strategy (LCES)[5] together set out how we can meet these climate change targets and secure the transition to a low-carbon economy.

In line with the requirements of the Act, the next batch of annual targets covering the period 2023-27 were agreed in October 2011[6].

Meeting these ambitious targets will be challenging, and all sectors will need to play their part. Tackling emissions from transport will require a combination of both reserved and devolved policies to make the necessary difference.

1.2 Purpose of the Carbon Account for Transport

The National Transport Strategy (NTS)[7] published in 2006 and endorsed by Scottish Ministers, outlined three key strategic outcomes for transport in Scotland:

  • Improve journey times and connections,
  • Reduce emissions,
  • Improve quality, accessibility and affordability.

The 'reduced emissions' outcome includes a commitment to develop a carbon balance sheet for transport with the expectation that:

"This will present the impact of all Scottish transport policies and projects that are expected to have a significant impact on carbon, whether positive or negative."(National Transport Strategy, p46)

This commitment is met by the regular publication of the Carbon Account for Transport (CAT). The CAT provides updates on the following information:

  • Official Scottish transport emissions data up to 2009;
  • The efficiency of passenger vehicles;
  • Key transport indicators;
  • Emissions impacts of Scottish transport infrastructure projects; and
  • Emissions impacts of Scottish, UK and EU wide regulatory and fiscal measures.

Each of these components is used to monitor and review progress towards achievement of the 'reduced emissions' strategic outcome for transport and further supports the development and implementation of actions to reduce emissions in accordance with the targets in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act.

It is important to be clear from the outset that the CAT is not a decision making tool at an individual project or policy level. Nor is it intended to offer rejection to projects or policies that have a negative impact on emissions. Its purpose is to present in a clear and consistent manner relevant data and analysis to inform the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland's consideration of the emissions impact of transport options. Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG)[8] remains the process for appraising new transport policies and projects, with the impact on the environment being one of the five criteria considered alongside economy, safety, integration and accessibility and social inclusion.

Showing the level of greenhouse gas emissions of the Scottish transport sector over time, measured in carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e), the CAT helps explain which transport policies and projects are forecast to have the most significant influence on emission levels. These interventions are split between those that are infrastructure projects and those that are fiscal policies or regulatory measures.

To avoid misrepresentation of the data, the CAT does not attempt to aggregate the impacts of these individual measures or to compare them to a business as usual baseline. The comparison, addition or netting off of emissions estimates between interventions or against a baseline may lead to incorrect conclusions being drawn. The CAT does though continue to provide an estimate of the net impact of all devolved interventions that fall within the competence of the Scottish Government or other Scottish public bodies. Details of the methodology are set out in section 3.4.

In achieving its objectives, the CAT will also constitute an important element of a wider monitoring framework adopted across the Scottish Government with the aim of reducing emissions. The 'Report on Policies and Proposals' sets out the policies that are already in place to cut emissions across all sectors and further proposals to enable Scotland to meet annual emissions targets from 2010 to 2022.