Carbon Account for Transport

Carbon Account for Transport No. 8: 2016 Edition

Carbon Account for Transport

Chapter 1: Introduction

This is the eighth edition of the Carbon Account for Transport. It follows the same structure as previous reports, and for the third year running it is accompanied by an infographic to highlight some of the key information contained within. This year's edition contains a detailed examination of the uptake in electric and plug in hybrid vehicles in Scotland (between sections 2.5 and 2.6).

1.1 Policy Context

The Government Economic Strategy[1] states that the purpose of the Scottish Government is to:

"… create a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth." (The Government Economic Strategy 2015, p4).

In support of the Strategy, the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009[2] creates the statutory framework for greenhouse gas emissions reductions in Scotland requiring annual emissions targets and an interim emissions target for 2020 of 40.72 MtCO2e, on the way to an 80% emissions 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.

The most recent report on the climate change targets is Low Carbon Scotland: Meeting the Emissions Reduction Targets 2013-2027: The Second Report on Proposals and Policies[3] (RPP2). This document sets out a possible pathway and options for delivering the necessary reductions out to 2027. The latest batch of annual targets covering the period 2028-32 were set in a statutory instrument in October 2016[4].

Delivering both the interim and final emissions reduction target will be challenging. Reducing emissions from transport will require a combination of both reserved and devolved policies to ensure the sector makes its fair contribution to achieving each target. The 2020s will be particularly critical in setting road transport on a pathway towards low carbon solutions.

1.2 Purpose of the Carbon Account for Transport

The National Transport Strategy and its recent refresh (NTS)[5] identify three key strategic outcomes for transport in Scotland:

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

The 'reduce emissions' outcome in the NTS includes a commitment to publish 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 to 2014
  • Emissions efficiency estimates for passenger vehicles
  • Key leading transport emissions 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 the above components can be used to monitor progress towards reducing transport emissions and support the development of actions to further reduce emissions in order to meet the targets in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009.

The CAT is not a decision making tool at either the individual project or policy level. Neither is its function to reject policies that increase emissions. Its purpose is to present relevant data and analysis to inform the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland's consideration of future transport options. Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG)[6] is the tool for appraising new transport policies and projects, in which environmental impact is one of five criteria considered alongside economy, safety, integration and accessibility and social inclusion.

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 that are likely to have a material impact on emissions. Details of the methodology and the results from the current assessment are set out in section 3.4.

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