Carbon Account for Transport

Chapter 4: Conclusions

The Scottish Government is committed to tackling climate change, and has put in place a framework to deliver greenhouse gas emission reductions of 42% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 (compared to a 1990 baseline). RPP2 sets out one pathway that would keep Scotland on the trajectory to achieve this emissions reduction and now we have 2013 inventory data it is possible for the first time to directly compare the actual estimate with that suggested in RPP2. Neither set of data are built in such a way as to allow a line by line comparison but setting the aggregate positions alongside each other will be a helpful way to monitor the level of progress made.

Transport has a significant role to play in meeting Scotland's national targets and RPP2 sets out the wide range of work already underway to bring down transport emissions. Efforts include continued significant investment in public transport infrastructure and service delivery to encourage mode shift, initiatives to encourage active travel, improving the efficiency of freight movements and the demonstration and use of low carbon vehicles. Furthermore, there is strong support from the Scottish Government for those wider measures and initiatives to reduce emissions such as the new car CO2e regulation and the UK Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO). Together, these can help make a long-lasting and permanent reduction in Scotland's transport emissions.

Section 2 of the CAT set out the latest outturn emissions data available. It demonstrated that whilst transport continued to make up a quarter of Scotland's total emissions, transport emissions fell for a sixth straight year.

Section 2 also demonstrates through a range of key indicators monitoring public transport use, continued encouraging movements towards more fuel efficient, less polluting transport behaviours. The challenge remains how best to increase the speed of switching and take up of these new technologies and fuel sources in our every day travel.

Section 3 of the CAT explains the likely future impact from the infrastructure projects underway. While the emissions impacts from these projects are not measured on a like for like basis, and consequently cannot be compared against each other, it is clear that some interventions are expected to increase future emissions albeit by relatively small amounts. The STAG process is though about more than recording emissions impact so an appraisal may show that an infrastructure improvement is, on balance, the best way to achieve the overall Government Purpose. That said, it is still important to quantify and to minimise the emissions impacts of each project.

Section 3 of the CAT also sets out the range of fiscal and regulatory measures, predominantly reserved, that have been committed to usually via the EU or UK Budget process. The move of the UK government away from full emissions impact assessments as part of the budget process has made tracking the magnitude of the impact of policy changes much more difficult. There is though still a need to incentivise and encourage shifts in travel behaviour towards active and more fuel efficient options through charging more for inefficient practices or offering reduced charges on more efficient transport choices.

The purpose of the CAT is to bring greater transparency to Scotland's transport emissions and, therefore, greater emissions accountability in transport policy. This will mean promoting those measures which reduce emissions, as well as minimising the impact of policies and projects that increase emissions. Whilst the underlying factors set out in Chapter 2 will continue to have a major influence on overall transport emissions, the CAT will continue to report the marginal impact that projects and policies are likely to have upon the overall emissions pathway.