Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 Policy Context

The Government Economic Strategy1 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) Act2 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 20223.

Finalised in March 2011, Low Carbon Scotland: Meeting the Emissions Reduction Targets 2010-2022: The Report on Proposals and Policies4, 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 Climate Change (Scotland) Act, the next batch of annual targets covering the period 2023-27 were agreed in October 20116 and in June 2013 the Government published Low Carbon Scotland: Meeting the Emissions Reduction Targets 2013-2027: The Second Report on Proposals and Policies7 (RPP2) which set out a possible pathway and set of options to deliver the necessary reductions out to 2027.

Delivering both the interim and final emissions reduction target will be challenging. Tackling emissions from transport will require a combination of both reserved and devolved policies to ensure the sector plays its full and fair part in achieving each target.

1.2 Purpose of the Carbon Account for Transport

The National Transport Strategy (NTS)8 outlines three key strategic outcomes for transport in Scotland:

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

The 'reduce 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 from 1990 up to 2011
  • Emissions efficiency estimates for passenger vehicles
  • Key forward looking transport indicators
  • Scottish transport infrastructure projects likely to have a significant impact upon emissions
  • Assessments of likely impact of Scottish, UK and EU wide regulatory and fiscal measures

Each of these components can be used to monitor and review progress towards achievement of the 'reduced emissions' strategic outcome for transport and further support 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 either the individual project or policy level. Nor is its function to reject those projects or policies that have a negative impact on emissions (i.e. lead to increased emissions). Instead, 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 future transport options. The tool for appraising new transport policies and projects, where the impact on the environment is one of the five criteria considered alongside economy, safety, integration and accessibility and social inclusion remains the Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG)9.

The CAT continues to provide an estimate of the net impact of all devolved transport infrastructure interventions that fall within the competence of the Scottish Government or other Scottish public bodies. Details of the methodology and the results from the current assessment are set out in section 3.4.

In achieving its objectives, the CAT will also constitute an important element of a wider framework adopted across the Scottish Government to monitor the rate of emissions reduction.