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Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill

Overview

This proposed law will make changes to the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009

It changes the target for reducing all 'greenhouse gas emissions' to 100% by 2045. The target is currently 80%.

Greenhouse gases trap heat in the earth's atmosphere and cause climate change. Reducing these gases will limit the problems that come with climate change.

The proposed law explains how:

  • annual targets will be set
  • a target of 100% reduction in emissions will be set in the future
  • progress towards meeting targets will be monitored and reported

You can find out more in the Scottish Government document that explains the bill.

Why the proposed law was created

The Scottish Government wants to make the current legislation on climate change tougher.

 

This will help:

  • limit temperature increases and the negative impacts they have
  • make sure that businesses and industries start using low-carbon technologies
  • make sure that businesses and industries work in a way that reduces carbon emissions

Climate change is already happening. Its effects include increases in:

  • coastal floods
  • dangerous heatwaves
  • severe droughts
  • hurricanes

You can find out more in the Scottish Government document that explains the bill.

The Bill at different stages

'Bills' are proposed laws. Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) discuss them to decide if they should become law.

Here's the Bill as it was introduced:

The Bill as introduced

Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill

The Scottish Government sends the Bill and the related documents to the Scottish Parliament.

Bill is at ScottishParliament.SC.Feature.BillComponents.Models.BillStageModel?.DefaultBillStage?.Stage_Name stage.

Stage 2 - Changes to detail

Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill with Stage 2 changes

Second version of the proposed law with changes from Members of Scottish Parliament (MSPs).

Bill is at ScottishParliament.SC.Feature.BillComponents.Models.BillStageModel?.DefaultBillStage?.Stage_Name stage.

Where do laws come from?

The Scottish Parliament can make decisions about many things like:

  • Agriculture and Fisheries
  • Education and Training
  • Environment
  • Health and Social Services
  • Housing
  • Justice and Policing
  • Local Government
  • Some aspects of Tax and Social Security

These are 'devolved matters'.

Laws that are decided by the Scottish Parliament come from:

Government Bills

These are Bills that have been introduced by the Scottish Government. They are sometimes called 'Executive Bills'.

Most of the laws that the Scottish Parliament looks at are Government Bills.

Hybrid Bills

These Bills are suggested by the Scottish Government.

As well as having an impact on a general (public) law, they could also have an impact on organisations' or the public's private interests.

The first Hybrid Bill was the Forth Crossing Bill.

Members' Bill

These are Bills suggested by MSPs. Every MSP can try to get two laws passed in the time between elections. This 5-year period is called a 'Parliamentary session'.

To do this they need other MSPs from different political parties to support their proposed law.

Committee Bills

These are Bills suggested by a group of MSPs called a committee.

These are Public Bills because they will change general law.

Private Bills

These are Bills suggested by a person, group or company. They usually:

  • add to an existing law
  • change an existing law

A committee would be created to work on a Private Bill.

Introduced

The Scottish Government sends the Bill and related documents to the Scottish Parliament.

Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill as introduced

Related information from the Scottish Government on the Bill

Why the law is being proposed (Policy Memorandum)

Opinions on whether the Parliament has the power to make the law (Statements on Legislative Competence)

How much the proposed law is likely to cost (Financial Memorandum)

Explanation of the proposed law (Explanatory Notes)

Information on the powers the Bill gives the Scottish Government and others (Delegated Powers Memorandum)

Scottish Parliament research on the Bill

Stage 1 - General principles

Committees examine the Bill. Then the MSPs vote on whether it should continue to Stage 2.

Have your say

The deadline for sharing your views on this Bill has passed. Read the views that were given.

Who checked the Bill

Each Bill is examined by a 'lead committee'. This is the committee that has the subject of the Bill in its remit.

It looks at everything to do with the Bill.

Other committees may look at certain parts of the Bill if it covers subjects they deal with. 

Who spoke to the lead committee about the Bill

Video Thumbnail Preview PNG

First meeting transcript

The Convener

Agenda item 2 is to hear evidence from Scottish Government officials at stage 1 of the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill. I welcome Mark Eggeling, Sara Grainger, Dr Tom Russon and Calum Webster. Good morning. We will move straight to questions.

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP)

In addition to the advice of the United Kingdom Committee on Climate Change, which is the primary source of scientific advice for the Government, were other sources of scientific advice considered in deriving the contents of the bill?

Sara Grainger (Scottish Government)

The answer to that question is both yes and no. I will explain that.

The advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change has a certain primacy in what we consider for two reasons. The first reason is that the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 requires that the Scottish ministers seek and consider advice from the relevant body, and it designates the UK Committee on Climate Change as that relevant body. Therefore, ministers have to seek and consider its advice.

The second reason why we take the UK Committee on Climate Change’s advice particularly seriously is that it is hard to think of another body that has the same level of expertise in it. The breadth and depth of the expertise of the people in the UKCCC is quite remarkable. At the secretariat and committee levels, they cover various climate science specialisms, behavioural science, economics, cognitive science and technology. I have certainly missed some of what they cover, but I think that members get my point. The UKCCC is therefore the ideal set of people to provide advice. However, there is nothing in the 2009 act that means that we cannot look more widely, and we certainly consider information, analysis and opinions from a much broader range of people.

In coming to its advice, among the first things that the UKCCC does is issue a call for evidence. To the best of my knowledge, that is an entirely open call. Anybody in the UK—and probably internationally—can contribute to that evidence, which contributes to the advice that the UKCCC gives.

When we get the advice, we test it out with a few people, do some internal analysis and thinking, and then consult. On the basis of that advice, ministers took the view that they wanted to take one of the UKCCC’s options, so we consulted on that. That, of course, provided an opportunity for a much broader range of people to put forward their views.

We conducted some analysis ourselves. I have mentioned using the TIMES model and looking into various national examples of good and interesting practice.

To answer your question, we rely primarily on the advice from the UKCCC, because we are required to do so under the legislation, and because it is excellent. However, we are not closed to other sources of information.

Stewart Stevenson

We are trying to cover an awful lot in the time that we have, so I do not want to go down this road too far. However, it would be useful if you could give us a note of all the sources of scientific advice, in particular, that you have taken into account.

Sara Grainger

We will do that.

Stewart Stevenson

The UK Committee on Climate Change’s advice is that a 90 per cent cut in emissions is at the outer edge of achievability. I understand that achieving that cut would require a 100 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. I want to put on the record that that is the case.

Sara Grainger

That is the case.

Stewart Stevenson

In the light of that, I have already drafted an amendment to the bill that would provide that the Scottish ministers must ensure that the net Scottish emissions of carbon dioxide in 2050 are at least 100 per cent lower than the baseline. The phrase “at least 100 per cent” is interesting, because it could be more than 100 per cent. That option is left open.

Mark Ruskell (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Green)

The international scientific consensus on climate change is very much driven by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is scheduled to bring out a fresh report on climate science in October. I do not know whether you have seen some of the leaked draft copies of the report that have appeared on the internet. The leaked copies say that the world must move towards a net zero carbon target by 2050. If that is the conclusion of the IPCC, what scientific advice and support on how to deliver that target will you request from the UK Committee on Climate Change?

Sara Grainger

I am aware that the IPCC report has been leaked, but I have not studied it, and we will not look at leaked copies in any depth. We will wait until the final version is available, which I understand will be on 8 October—it will certainly be available in early October.

The Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform wrote to the relevant UK minister, Claire Perry, requesting that the advice that the UK Government has indicated that it will ask the UKCCC for on the back of the IPCC report is commissioned jointly with the Scottish Government, because clearly we will need much the same information. I understand that Claire Perry has responded to that letter and has agreed that the UK and Scottish Governments should work together, but I have no further detail about that. I am not able to tell you exactly what that request for advice will cover, much less what advice might be forthcoming from the Committee on Climate Change. I cannot say how that will play out.

Mark Ruskell

Timescales are very important to this committee’s consideration of the bill. Will that advice come back to this committee before consideration of stage 2 amendments?

Sara Grainger

I am not able to say anything about the timescales for that advice. I do not know when the request—

Mark Ruskell

Should that advice come back to the committee before stage 2?

Sara Grainger

That is not for me to say. It is a matter for the ministers, the committee and Parliament. My understanding is that the decisions on the timescale for the stages of the bill, now that it has been introduced, is a matter for Parliament. I am not sure that my opinion is of a great deal of importance.

Mark Ruskell

I will take us back to the IPCC advice, as there seems to be a bit of confusion in the policy memorandum for the bill. The target that we are aiming for, in order to prevent catastrophic loss of wildlife, prevent environmental refugeeism and save the economy, seems to vary between a 2° increase in global temperatures and a 1.5° increase. The references in the policy memorandum switch from one to the other. Which one is it? What are we aiming for? Are we aiming for a world that is 1.5° warmer or 2° warmer? There is a big difference in terms of the impact on our economy, on nature and on the environmental systems that sustain us.

Sara Grainger

There is certainly a big difference. The wording of the Paris agreement—I hope that Tom Russon will correct me if I get it wrong—is to aim for well below 2° and to make efforts to limit the increase to near 1.5°. Is that right, Tom?

Dr Tom Russon (Scottish Government)

Yes, the agreement is to pursue further efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°.

Mark Ruskell

So why is there a reference to two temperature targets in the bill?

Sara Grainger

That is because the Paris agreement references two targets—trying to keep to well below a 2° temperature rise and to nearer 1.5°.

Mark Ruskell

So what is the target? Is it well below 2°? Is it 1.6° or 1.5°, or is it 2° and then going back to 1.5°? I am not really clear what we are aiming for.

Sara Grainger

I do not think that we can be any more clear than the Paris agreement.

Dr Russon

The defining central concept in the 2009 act is Scotland’s fair contribution to avoiding dangerous climate change, which was the concept that was predominant back in 2008, and it is not put in terms of a 2° or 1.5° target. One way in which we can understand the Paris agreement is to see it as having revised what dangerous climate change means. Neither the 2009 act nor the new bill has one of those numerical temperature targets at its heart. At the heart of the bill is the idea of avoiding dangerous climate change. Ministers requested advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change on appropriate targets to meet that objective.

Mark Ruskell

Are you clear about the differences between a world that is warming at 2° and a world that is warming at 1.5°, in terms of the impact on the environment, people, communities and nations around the world?

Sara Grainger

Yes, we are sufficiently clear on that and understand the need and purpose of the Paris agreement to limit temperature rise to well below 2°.

Dr Russon

In its original advice on the target levels for the bill, the UKCCC set out two options, which, you may recall, were remaining at 80 per cent for now and going to a stretch target of 90 per cent. The UKCCC’s advice on those two options was that remaining at 80 per cent would stay in line with a 2° goal, while the 90 per cent target would be more in line with a goal of 1.5°.

Mark Ruskell

The IPCC report that is coming out in October might paint a very different picture about what is dangerous climate change.

Sara Grainger

It might do. We await that report.

John Scott (Ayr) (Con)

How will updating the targets without updating all the activities and duties in the 2009 act produce the best results? Why was increased target setting considered without also considering what will be required to meet the targets?

Sara Grainger

The scope of the bill is a decision for ministers. Ministers set the scope in light of the Paris agreement and their enthusiasm and commitment to be at the limits of ambition and keeping at the forefront of the global response to climate change. The raison d’être of the bill is to increase the target levels.

We have also taken the opportunity to improve elements of the 2009 act that have proved to be particularly problematic, such as the emissions trading system adjustment, which we do every year and which causes no end of confusion, not least among ourselves. We were keen to remove the particularly problematic elements of the act.

09:45  



Other than that, there is a strong feeling that the 2009 act is working. The framework that we have in Scotland is achieving a great deal, and Scotland is doing very well at reducing emissions. The proof of the pudding is in the eating: the act is doing its job. The aim of the bill is really just to increase the targets.

The Convener

In relation to Mr Scott’s question, it your contention that the climate change plan provides the detail on how we achieve the targets?

Sara Grainger

Yes, very much so—thank you for your question; I was taking a bit too long to get to the point. Beyond our having the knowledge and assurance that the target levels are achievable—at a very substantial push—the details of how we achieve the targets need to be set out in climate change plans, and that will continue to happen. It is in that context that we will think about activities.

The Convener

You said that, in the advice that you take on setting the targets, primacy lies with that of the UKCCC. However, the draft plan was not run past the UKCCC and its advice was not sought on it. Do you see a slight disconnect there?

Sara Grainger

I am not sure that I do, entirely. The 2009 act requires the Scottish ministers to seek advice from the UKCCC on appropriate target levels. Ministers then propose target levels, which are agreed by the Parliament. However, the policies and proposals that are put in place to meet the targets are dealt with under a section of the framework that is slightly distinct, that is, in the strategic climate change plans, which are produced by the Government, scrutinised by the committee and revised accordingly. It is a slightly different process.

The Convener

Yes, but the principle is the same. If the UKCCC is the adviser on one element, surely it would be reasonable to run the proposals past it. I realise that we have come past that point; I just make the point that, on one hand, you are saying that the UKCCC is terribly important and, on the other, you thought a few months ago that it was not important enough to merit having the plan run past it.

Sara Grainger

I do not agree that the UKCCC is not important enough to merit having the plan run past it; it is more that we see the UKCCC’s role slightly differently. The UKCCC has the overarching say on the appropriate target levels, but how targets are delivered and met is a matter for the Scottish ministers.

John Scott

The practical aspects of that will be important. Although the goals that have been achieved thus far are good, some people might argue that they were the low-hanging fruit. It is easy to declare ambitions—we all have ambitions—but the strategic delivery of the ambitions is important and it would be very welcome if the Government were to give advice, particularly to the sectors that most need to get their houses in order, on how ambitions can best be realised.

Has there been a review and evaluation of how other parts of the 2009 act are working? If not, why not?

Sara Grainger

Our focus has been on introducing a bill that raises the ambition of the targets, to meet the Paris agreement, and on correcting or improving elements of the 2009 act that are evidently and demonstrably not functioning. We have not looked at the full scope of the 2009 act, because we consider that it is working well enough.

John Scott

However, you have obviously been reviewing the 2009 act and considering which bits do not work adequately.

If it is the Government’s view that the best place to update policies and proposals is in the climate change plans, why did the most recent climate change plan not address, for example, specific policy proposals based on the first year of mandatory public sector reporting and the interaction with the land use strategy, as was suggested in the committee’s report on the draft plan?

Sara Grainger

None of us was involved in depth in the development of the plan. It is my understanding that the land use strategy is incorporated into the plan and that the two are intertwined, and that is set out in the plan. I am not sure about the public sector reporting element or what the committee’s recommendation was on that, I am afraid. We laid in Parliament the report that is required under the act, setting out how all the recommendations from the committee were considered and responded to, so that information is available and we will be able to find it and return to you with a fuller answer.

Angus MacDonald (Falkirk East) (SNP)

Sections 1 to 4 allow for the creation of a net zero emissions target at a future date, and we look forward to seeing the responses to the consultation on that over the summer. Sections 1 to 4 also update the 2009 act’s 2050 target from 80 per cent to 90 per cent. Can you give the committee any examples of international actions or of how the Paris agreement has been translated into domestic law with regard to that, and can you tell us how the Scottish Government is taking account of international best practice?

Sara Grainger

I will endeavour to do that. We have looked a fair amount at international examples of good practice. We have focused on countries, states and regions that we know to be leading and to have particularly good practice. However, we have found the work to be horrendously complicated, and it is difficult to draw comparisons between different countries’ actions, commitments and legislations. Countries, states and regions differ in terms of starting points and the assets that are available to them as well as in their legislation.

Trying to understand our own legislation is testing; trying to understand other countries’ legislation is exceptionally testing. However, we have put a lot of time and effort into it and we have discussed the matter with officials in several other countries. We have also commissioned work through ClimateXChange at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation to look at examples of best practice. Those reports are in the public domain, so we can draw your attention to them.

We have concluded from that work that the existing work—and, even more, the provisions in the bill—means that Scotland will have the most stringent and tightly bound climate change emissions reduction legislation anywhere. We also rank highly in terms of progress. So, although other leading countries have slightly different approaches, ministers have taken the view that the approach that we have in Scotland is working for Scotland. There is reluctance to make changes that would make our legislation more similar to that of other countries for the simple reason that our legislation appears to be working for Scotland and is right for us as a result of the 2009 act, which was agreed unanimously by the Parliament.

Angus MacDonald

That is good to hear. What different actions and behaviour changes are required to attain both the 90 per cent reduction target and the 80 per cent reduction target to which we are currently committed? What scale of behaviour change and technical advancement does each require, and in which sectors?

Sara Grainger

Crikey—that is really quite complicated. I am very happy to set out the work that we have done on exploring the difference between an 80 per cent target and a 90 per cent one, but I am not quite sure that it would answer your question to the level of detail that you are looking for. We have not produced—and could not sensibly produce for the period up to 2050—a plan detailing exactly how we would manage emissions reductions in and across sectors or the precise contents of policies and actions that the Government and other actors would need to put in place.

We know that, in relation to the 90 per cent target, there is no scope for underachievement anywhere—I think that that is the phrase that the UKCCC used. I would phrase it slightly differently and say that we need the maximum level of decarbonisation in every sector to achieve the 90 per cent target. For the reasons that I have covered previously, work on exactly what that means in relation to policies and actions and when they would need to occur would have to be considered in the production of climate change plans.

Given that, I am not sure that my telling the committee what we think will be the difference between 80 and 90 per cent would be particularly helpful. However, I can go on to that if committee members would like me to do so.

The Convener

I think that we would. We would also be interested in understanding whether the decision that was reached on the target was influenced in any way by what we thought people would accept by way of behavioural change—what was achievable with the public in reality. That feeds into consideration of the legislation elsewhere and of what is suitable for other countries’ cultures but not for here. Can you give us a wider feel for how you arrived at the target?

Sara Grainger

I can try to. That is an interesting question.

I will start by saying what the UKCCC set out in its advice. The main difference between its central ambition scenario, which would see an 80 per cent target met, and its 90 per cent scenario, which is its high-ambition one, is in the level of the carbon sink from land use, land use change and forestry.

Under an 80 per cent scenario, there is a focus on buildings and industry—and also on aviation and shipping, which are crucial—and there is a little bit of wriggle room in other sectors. Under a 90 per cent scenario, there would be no wriggle room anywhere, although some emissions would remain in aviation and shipping—including international emissions, which are included in our targets but not in those of other countries—and in industry, beyond emission reductions that could be achieved through efficiency. We would also need to decarbonise buildings completely instead of almost doing so.

We consider that there are three options for going further than that. One option is to purchase international credits to make up the differences between what can be achieved domestically and what cannot be done responsibly, in the view of ministers. The second option is to hope that technology will develop to deliver negative emissions. However, at this stage, experts tell us that that is unlikely to happen at the right pace, rate or scale in the near future. The third way is to introduce policies and proposals that remove emissions completely from industry, aviation, shipping and agriculture, which I have not mentioned before but which is crucial.

When you talk about behaviour change, I am not sure of the distinction between the choices that individuals can make to change their own behaviour and wholesale changes to the economy that would impose changes in behaviour.

However, I think that I am answering your question if I say that it was and remains the view that, at this time, it would not be acceptable to the majority to impose policies that restricted aviation, shipping, agriculture, food production and industry to the levels that would be required to meet a net zero target.

10:00  



Claudia Beamish (South Scotland) (Lab)

My question is for whoever feels it is most appropriate for them to answer. Can I have a bit more detail about the advances in technology? Sara Grainger said that the second way in which we might go further with the targets is by hoping that technology will deliver further. Can you tell us about the experts who have been consulted? It is obviously very difficult to know what technology will be available beyond 2040.

On the other hand, many stakeholders have said to me that it is important to be aspirational and that we should be determined to send a clear message to researchers, investors and the market about where we are going. Although I was not in the Parliament at the time, unlike my colleague Stewart Stevenson, I understand that the Climate Change (Scotland) Bill was quite aspirational about where we were going.

Sara Grainger

Yes.

Claudia Beamish

I am asking about the experts. Sorry—that was rather long-winded, but I am trying to set the scene around the concerns that people have brought to me about why we are not going further.

Sara Grainger

The reason why we are not going further, even though ministers and the Scottish Government are absolutely clear that we wish to achieve net zero emissions as soon as possible, is that putting a target into legislation that required us to achieve net zero emissions by a specific date could create difficulties if the technology did not arrive at the pace or the scale that was necessary to enable us to achieve that. It may do—some people are very optimistic that the technology will come on stream very soon and that it will be possible to roll it out on an industrial scale. However, others are substantially less optimistic. It would be, in essence, a bet on having the technology available at the scale that was needed.

It could be argued that, by setting out a clear ambition to achieve net zero emissions through a political rather than a legislative commitment—which is similar to what many other countries have done—ministers would be making the aspiration clear and sending a message to investors, researchers and other people who need to be encouraged to develop the technology and the business case for the technology. Putting a target date into legislation that we would absolutely have to meet, regardless of whether the technology had become available, is a different kettle of fish altogether.

The experts were primarily from the Committee on Climate Change, which has the technological expertise as well as all the other expertise. Discussions were also held with colleagues and stakeholders in other parts of the organisation who are involved in those kinds of technological developments.

Claudia Beamish

Sorry—which organisation? I am not sure what you mean by “organisation”.

Sara Grainger

I am not sure that I can answer that question right now, not least because we have had some consultation responses about the matter and I cannot remember whether those consultees agreed to have their names made public in connection with what they said. That is why I am being a little bit cagey about it just now, but I am happy to get back to you later.

The Convener

Could you get back to us when you have checked that out?

Sara Grainger

Yes.

The Convener

Here is the thing: some people would see a contradiction in the argument around technology.

I appreciate your point about you guys not being involved in the climate change plan, but the original plan relies, to a fair extent, on carbon capture and storage technology. We were told that the plan was credible with that technology in it, but we are now being told that we cannot be more ambitious because we do not have the technologies. Do you see the contradiction that some people see in the approach?

Sara Grainger

Yes, when you put it in that way. If the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform were here, she would say that she was criticised a lot for making those comments and for relying on technology, so you could turn that argument around. However, I will not do that, because I am not the cabinet secretary.

It is about the scale and the pace of technology change. It is one thing to expect, to rely on and then to plan for a level of technological development, but it is quite another to think that the scale of that development could be vast and quick enough to achieve a substantially more ambitious target.

The Convener

Thank you. It was useful to get that on the record.

Claudia Beamish wants to come back in. Please be brief, as Mark Ruskell will come in right afterwards.

Claudia Beamish

I have no idea what Mark Ruskell is about to say, but I will come back in only if he does not cover what I want to ask about.

Mark Ruskell

We are all keen to get in on the issue.

Sara Grainger talked about taking “a bet” on technology, but there are bets on the other side, too. If we do not meet our climate change targets or if the science on climate change changes and the situation worsens, we are taking a bet on the future. How do we refocus on technological change?

Back in 1986, which is the same timescale that we are being asked to look forward—that is 32 years ago, and we are looking forward to 2050—we had no idea that the internet was going to be a thing, but here we are today, rolling out broadband strategies, and the internet has completely transformed our world. How do you learn from previous technological changes what conditions, including those related to the market, innovation—particularly university innovation—investment and research, are required for those changes? How do you create the conditions to give us the certainty that we can make the necessary technological changes? What does Government need to do now, even if it does not have all the answers, to create the conditions for those answers to be brought into use?

Back in 1986, we did not have a clue that we would be where we are today. There were technologies that suggested that we might be here, but the exact pathway to delivering the transformation that the internet has given us today was not clear.

Sara Grainger

Indeed. You are putting me in mind of “Tomorrow’s World”, which I used to watch. When you see repeats, it is remarkable what people thought might become standard technology. Hovercrafts spring to mind.

I really do not think that I can answer your question about the changing landscape. I agree with you completely that technology will develop and the world will change—of course it will. However, the point is that we do not know how and when that will happen or what the implications and the impact of that change will be. Therefore, putting targets into legislation with all those unknowns is complex.

Tom, do you want to come in on the broader issue?

Dr Russon

Yes, I am happy to do so. I cannot remember who mentioned it, but carbon capture and storage is a good example to consider in this context. It is clear, from the CCC’s advice on the bill’s targets, that meeting the targets will not be just a question of carbon capture and storage. We must go beyond that and use bioenergy carbon capture and storage—that is, CCS coupled with the production of biomass to reach negative emissions. Regular carbon capture and storage gets you to reduced emissions, but to get to negative emissions you need to go beyond that approach.

There are two technologically uncertain steps there—the first is getting to functional deployment of CCS and the second is getting to functional deployment of bioenergy CCS. Although Scotland has excellent research in those areas, they are big technologies that will be developed and deployed effectively only on a multinational scale. They are simply beyond the scope of what a small country can do unilaterally. The costs involved in such technologies are very large, as are the research consortia. It is an area in which international partnership working is very important for Scotland, but it is also an area in which we are limited, to an extent, by the pace of development internationally.

As the committee will be aware, one of the key features of the 2009 act that is being carried forward into the bill is the principle that we will keep getting updated advice on all these matters. Technology is a key area in which that updated advice will be most important, along with the climate science that Mark Ruskell spoke about. The bill will require the UK Committee on Climate Change to provide updated advice on all these matters, including on the target levels that follow from that advice, at least every five years.

We acknowledge frankly the validity of the point that the technology is extremely uncertain. The examples that we have talked through illustrate that. However, every five years seems the right timescale for taking advice and checking on developments. The bill allows for the possibility that, if things happen more rapidly within that five-year timescale, ministers can go back to the UK Committee on Climate Change even sooner, note that some tipping point seems to have been reached around CCS or whatever and say that updated advice is required immediately.

The Convener

Committee colleagues have supplementary questions on slightly different aspects.

Stewart Stevenson

My question is certainly for Calum Webster and perhaps for Mark Eggeling. It relates to an answer that Sarah Grainger gave my colleague John Scott, when she said that the bill is about numbers and reporting, and that that is working satisfactorily. As the minister who took the Climate Change (Scotland) Bill through to becoming an act in 2009, I am not so sure about that. I give as examples Alex Johnstone’s amendment to that bill, to allow discounts on business rates for premises that were upgraded, and Sarah Boyack’s amendment on domestic rates: I do not think that they work terribly well. The bill is about emissions reduction targets,

“to make provision setting targets ... and to make provision about advice, plans and reports in relation to those targets.”

Is the bill amendable in a way that will allow us to amend those previous attempts, which are very worthy but which have not delivered what we hoped they would, and other provisions, helping us put into primary legislation things that would be part of plans in relation to targets? Is it amendable in that way?

Mark Eggeling (Scottish Government)

Those matters are ultimately for the Parliament to decide—in that regard, I include the committee’s consideration of stage 2 amendments. There have been exchanges around consideration of the present bill’s scope, but, as I said, that is for the Parliament to decide.

Principally, the bill will amend part 1 of the 2009 act, which is focused on targets, but it will also amend some of the provisions relating to reporting, including the reporting on the climate change plans. The bill’s focus is therefore on the targets that are imposed on Scottish ministers.

The bill is not looking at any delivery measures or at parts of the 2009 act that deal with how we implement and give effect to those targets. There is obviously a suite of existing powers in the 2009 act and there are lots of other powers in other acts to enable provision to be made on the delivery of various targets. However the principle here is that the climate change plans will set out the measures that need to be taken as well as proposals for any additional measures that need to be taken. The issue can be considered at the time to see whether the powers to do that are already in place or whether anything more is required.

Stewart Stevenson

The 2009 act creates certain powers, and the Parliament could amend it via the mechanism in the bill, subject to the convener and the Presiding Officer allowing that to happen. Is that correct? It is a purely legal question and not one for a long answer.

10:15  



Mark Eggeling

We have expressed our view on the scope of the bill. I understand that there are precedents for how that is handled in Parliament.

Stewart Stevenson

We will let the convener worry about that at another date.

The Convener

Thank you, Mr Stevenson.

Claudia Beamish

I have a question about the just transition commission. It is not in the bill but the committee has received a submission from the just transition partnership about it. I have also been in discussion with the Scottish Trades Union Congress and other bodies about it, as other people around the table and beyond no doubt have been.

Although I take the point that Mark Eggeling made about the targets, my clear understanding of the bill is that it is also a governance bill. Can the witnesses explain the reasons why the just transition commission is not in the bill? In the view of many people, giving the commission a legislative status going towards 2050 and beyond would give a clear indication and reassurance to people in affected communities and industries around how the shift will be done, that it will be done fairly and that there will be accountability to Parliament for it.

Sara Grainger

A live conversation is taking place within the Scottish Government about the scope, remit, form and function of the just transition commission. The discussion will be opened up shortly. The current thinking is that it might not be necessary for the commission to be established in statute for it to be able to provide valuable advice to the Scottish ministers about how to ensure a just transition to a low-carbon economy. However, that thinking has not stopped; it remains live and there will be more information in the near future.

Claudia Beamish

What is the reasoning behind it not being considered necessary to establish the commission in statute? To many organisations, trade unions and companies, a legislative basis for the commission would give clarity about arrangements for the future.

Sara Grainger

The purpose of the just transition commission, as was set out in the programme for government, is to provide advice to ministers to help them devise policies and processes to ensure a just transition. It is not evident that a statutory basis is required to establish a commission that is able to provide valuable advice.

Claudia Beamish

It is not required, but it might be valuable.

Richard Lyle (Uddingston and Bellshill) (SNP)

Good morning. Among the main themes of the Scottish Government’s consultation were: whether the bill should contain provisions to allow for a net zero emissions target to be set at a later date; whether to update the interim target for 2020 contained in the 2009 act from 42 to 56 per cent lower than baseline levels; whether to add further interim targets of 66 per cent by 2030 and 78 per cent by 2040; and whether to update the 2050 target from 80 to 90 per cent lower than baseline levels. In light of that, what scenarios might require changes to the interim targets, and what are the practical implications?

Dr Russon

I will start off with a slightly process-based answer and then go on to some hypothetical scenarios.

As you say, the bill allows for the interim and 2050 target levels to be modified through secondary legislation under the affirmative procedure. The process element of my answer is that a couple of things have to happen before that can happen. The UK Committee on Climate Change has to provide advice on those target levels. As has been touched on previously, it provides that advice with reference to a defined set of target-setting criteria. The list is quite long so I will not try to recount it from memory, but it includes factors such as the concept of a fair and safe total emissions budget over the period to 2050, the best available climate science, technological circumstances, the economic and fiscal circumstances here in Scotland, and impacts on rural and island communities, to name but a few. The list is, as I say, quite lengthy.

The UK Committee on Climate Change provides regular advice on target levels with reference to those criteria. Scottish ministers are then required to have due regard both to the committee’s advice and to their own assessments using that same list of criteria. If the view of ministers, upon reflecting on both those things, is that an interim or 2050 target should be modified either upwards or downwards, they can propose that to Parliament. The final decision will be for the Parliament to take.

My apologies for the slightly long preamble but I hope that that is helpful before I get into what circumstances or scenarios might lead to modification actually happening. In a sense, I hope that that groundwork points us back to the set of target-setting criteria: if circumstances either internationally or here in Scotland change with respect to those criteria, that would be the likely basis upon which a change to the targets could be made.

These are necessarily entirely hypothetical examples, in that I am foreguessing the future, the advice of the Committee on Climate Change and the will of ministers, all of which I should not be foreguessing. However, there are two potential scenarios. Mark Ruskell spoke about the forthcoming scientific report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That report will inevitably update our best understanding of the available climate science, which is one of the target-setting criteria. If that substantially changes the Committee on Climate Change’s view as to what Scotland’s goals should be, the committee would presumably provide advice to that effect.

A second scenario that I will try to explore in a little bit more detail is the question of how we measure the greenhouse gas emissions that Scotland produces at any given point in time. This is what is often referred to as the greenhouse gas inventory. It is referred to in the bill as “international carbon reporting practice”, and it is also one of the target-setting criteria. As members will recall, it is something that is changing all the time. When it changes, it can change the effective level of ambition that is needed to deliver a given target level.

One can imagine future scenarios in which, if that measurement science changes radically and we suddenly find out that Scotland has always been emitting either much greater or much lower levels of emissions than we previously understood, that might form the basis for the UK Committee on Climate Change providing advice that target levels should be modified to keep them in line with the decarbonisation pathway.

Richard Lyle

It sounds to me as though we are going to be changing our target levels every so often. Why is the ability to lower as well as raise targets critical to the operation of the target framework proposed by the Committee on Climate Change, and are we not just playing with figures to satisfy political parties and outside organisations?

Dr Russon

I hope that you will appreciate that I am going to struggle to answer the second part of that question. I genuinely do not think that it is the case that we are playing with figures for the sake of playing with figures. Much as we as officials might enjoy doing that, it is not about that; it is about what is at stake here. These are figures with very real, practical implications on the ground, in that the targets are the basis on which the climate change plans are produced. The climate change plans must set out to meet those targets, and they contain a whole range of practical, on-the-ground measures that affect everybody’s day-to-day lives.

The first part of your question concerned why the CCC advises that the ability to modify targets downwards as well as upwards is essential. That relates directly to the second of the two examples that I gave, which involved the fact that the science around how we measure emissions is changing all the time. The experience that we have had with the 2009 act is that that can change the figures in either direction—we can find out either that we have always had a lot more emissions than we thought or that we have had a lot less than we thought. On a year-to-year basis, which way those changes will go is entirely unpredictable. Control over the changes is almost entirely out of the hands of the Scottish Government, as decisions are made at a UK level, in line with the United Nations guidelines. In crude terms, these are things that happen to us that we have to respond to.

Modifying target levels in response to that is very much a last resort. We definitely would not want to be modifying target levels too often. Clearly, an important function of targets is to provide long-term signalling and, if you keep on adjusting them, that function is undermined. However, if really big changes to our best understanding of the current emissions levels keep on occurring, it might be necessary at some future point to adjust the targets. Because those measurement changes can go in either direction, the issue is entirely policy neutral—at this level, it is purely technocratic. That is why the CCC advice is that it is important to be able to modify the targets both ways.

Mark Ruskell

To what extent is regulatory alignment with the European Union important in that regard? As you know, there are growing calls for a net zero carbon target in the EU. In fact, the European Parliament’s lead negotiator on energy recently said that countries that resist the EU-wide proposal on net zero carbon by 2050 will be

“in the same camp as Mr Trump”.

There is clearly a political drive from the European Parliament, and the Commission is considering net zero carbon as the ultimate destination. Where does that place Scotland with regard to our policy of regulatory alignment?

Sara Grainger

Partly because of the reasons that Tom Russon gave earlier about multinational action and the development of technologies, what is happening in other countries is incredibly important with regard to how sensible or achievable it is for Scotland to have one target or another.

The other important issue concerns the risk of carbon leakage. I am sure that you are all aware of what that is, but I will spare anyone the embarrassment of having to ask—I was unaware of what it was for quite a long time. Carbon leakage is when businesses relocate to countries with more lax regulations or lower targets. If one country has a substantially higher target and tougher regulations than surrounding countries, that can have quite a negative economic impact and can affect the availability of jobs and so on. It can also result in products being imported rather than being manufactured in the country. For all those reasons, what is happening in the rest of Europe and the UK—and, indeed, in the rest of the world—is an essential consideration with regard to what target levels in Scotland should be.

Stewart Stevenson

Can you confirm that the plans that we have encompassed in the bill represent a net zero carbon target for 2050 and that the 10 percentage points difference between 90 per cent and 100 per cent relate entirely to the five gases other than carbon, of which the predominant one is methane?

Sara Grainger

That is correct.

The Convener

It is quite important to get that on the record, because there is a misunderstanding about that among the public.

Sara Grainger

There is, so I appreciate the issue being raised. My understanding of the conversation in Europe is that there is not yet an agreed definition of what “net zero” means. When people across the different countries talk about carbon neutrality, it seems to mean very different things—some people use it to mean net zero CO2 and others use it to mean net zero greenhouse gases. You are right that that is very important, convener.

10:30  



The Convener

Credibility and trust in what is out there is very important. To that end, how will changing to percentage targets deliver better scrutiny and improved performance?

Sara Grainger

That is another of Tom Russon’s favourite subjects.

Dr Russon

We see it as one of the key technical improvements in the bill. I beg the committee’s patience in order to provide a tiny bit of background to explain how we have got to this point, which I hope will help. Under the 2009 act, emissions reduction targets are set in two different forms: the 2020 and 2050 targets, which are set as percentage reductions from baselines of 42 per cent and 80 per cent respectively; and the annual targets, to fill in the gaps between those years, which are set as fixed amounts of emissions and expressed in megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, to the third decimal place.

There are pros and cons that come with both percentage-based and fixed amount of emissions-based targets. It is fair to say that a difficulty that was not foreseen at the time of the 2009 act is the potential for targets in two different forms becoming askew from each other. That misalignment is driven by changes to the measurement science and changes to the greenhouse gas inventory. Such changes affect the achievability of both types of target, but in different ways. In general, the fixed amount targets are much more sensitive to such changes than the percentage-based targets.

One consequence of having two different types of target is that they can become misaligned, which can lead to real difficulties both for us and for stakeholders. At the moment, the clearest example of that is that there are two different targets for 2020 and at different levels it is quite conceivable that Scotland could end up meeting one target and missing the other. That would be very hard to explain and quite counterproductive for credibility, which we all agree is central.

That is quite a long-winded way of saying that one of the key reasons for shifting to the percentage-based targets is to get all the targets in the same form. That is really important. One could ask why that form should be percentages and not fixed amounts, which would equally well address the point that I have just talked through. There are three main reasons why percentages are preferable to fixed amounts. As I said, there are some pros and cons for both. If the committee is interested we can go into those in more detail.

First, in favour of percentages, in general they are more stable in relation to changes in the measurement science. Such changes affect not just current emissions, but emissions going all the way back to the baseline. If you are measuring relative differences from the baselines to the present day, some of the changes will cancel them out.

Secondly, most of us find percentage-based targets to be more transparent. That is ultimately a subjective judgment. Some people prefer to think in terms of fixed amounts of emissions because they find it more intuitive, whereas other people find percentages more intuitive. The vast majority of the respondents to the consultation favoured the percentage target option. I find it easier to relate to 80 per cent or 90 per cent than to 52.392 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. However, that is a subjective judgment.

Thirdly, using percentage-based targets is the approach that the UK Committee on Climate Change advised that the Government should take. The committee’s view is that percentage-based targets are more transparent and more stable.

The Convener

Thank you. It is very useful to get that on record.

I have another layman’s question. As I understand it, if we had used percentages, we would have had to have removed an additional 4 megatonnes of greenhouse gases by 2020. Are we going to do that?

Dr Russon

I apologise; I am not sure that I followed the question. Are you asking about the difference between the annual and interim targets for 2020?

The Convener

As I understand it, under the original baseline we would have to have removed 40.717 megatonnes to meet the 42 per cent target. Now we know that we have to remove 44.713 megatonnes. I am asking a daft-laddie question: are we going to do that?

Dr Russon

Yes, we absolutely are. That is the daft-laddie answer. The climate change plans are required to meet the annual targets as well as the interim and 2050 targets. The effect of the misalignment between the two sets of targets that we have is that the annual targets are the harder ones to meet. The extra 4 megatonnes, as you nicely put it, fall between the annual target for 2020, which is harder, and the interim target for 2020, which is relatively a bit easier. The current climate change plan sets out to meet the tougher of the sets of targets—as the previous plans have always done—and by doing that, we of necessity meet and exceed the 42 per cent target.

The Convener

That demands a large improvement in performance—about 10 per cent.

Dr Russon

You are absolutely right.

The Convener

What does that look like? Give me an example of a sector, to illustrate the challenge.

Dr Russon

If my memory serves me correctly, emissions from the building sector are of the order of 4 megatonnes per annum.

The additional 4 megatonnes must be achieved over time—I guess that I am thinking about per annum emissions. However, you are right to say that it is a large amount. That is reflected in the package of policies and proposals in the current and previous climate change plans. The plans do not attempt to separate out policies and proposals and say, “These policies are for this target, and those policies are for that target.” That means that I am limited in my ability to give you a nicely packaged answer.

John Scott

Are the building sector and other sectors aware that there is a 10 per cent increase in the target, just like that, as a result of changing a unit of recognition?

Dr Russon

As I said, this is something that we have struggled with. It has been one of the hardest features of the 2009 act to live with, in some ways. You can well imagine the challenges that it gives us as we speak to our colleagues in Government and to stakeholders outside Government.

The position is not quite as bad as it would be if we were saying that sectors suddenly had to make the change. The inventory revisions have been building up over time. The issue brings us back to why it is so important to fix this element of the 2009 act, so that there is a clear basis and all the targets are in the same form, and so that the level of effort that is required from other parts of Government and outside Government is well understood and is stable through time. That has to be the right way to approach policy planning.

Sara Grainger

For up to five years.

Dr Russon

As Sara Grainger suggests, I am perhaps being a bit too bullish in my assessment of how effective the change will be, in that what the UKCCC proposed, which the bill will enact, is that the inventory is fixed for up to five years. Challenges such as we are considering will still arise, and I am afraid that our successors will have to come back to speak to your successors about them, but that will happen not every year but every five years. That gives external actors, in particular, who it is fair to say find all this very opaque, a bit of stability before the issue comes round again.

John Scott

I want to be absolutely clear about this, so forgive me for repeating the question. Are industry and the business sector aware of this creeping increase in the target, as it were? It was news to me when I read the papers, but I presume that others are much better informed than I am—that would certainly not be hard. It seems to me that by changing a unit you have increased the target by 10 per cent, which seems an odd way of doing business.

Dr Russon

I cannot speak to what a whole bunch of external organisations do or do not understand—

John Scott

So you do not know whether they understand this.

Dr Russon

A wide range of stakeholders are involved in the production of and the consultation on climate change plans. Those documents set out clearly the technical changes that have happened. As I have said, the plans ultimately have to set out to meet the more ambitious of the two sets of targets. However, I do not know whether the increase is well understood.

John Scott

I am not reassured that people are aware of the change.

The Convener

I presume that you would accept that that is a perfect example of why all sectors need to carry the load. As a result, when such significant changes occur, not just one or two sectors will be left to deal with them. The committee has highlighted one or two sectors across society that are not being asked to do a great deal. When we see such changes, that really brings home the need for everyone to play their part.

Sara Grainger

I certainly agree that a cross-sectoral approach is necessary to tackle the ambitious targets that we have and the even more ambitious targets that we will have. However, if you are implying—I may be understanding incorrectly what you have said—that all sectors should have the same percentage target, I am not sure that we would agree with that. At that level of detail, it makes quite a lot of sense from my perspective and the perspective of ministers to be able to look across sectors and see what it is reasonable to expect different sectors to do at different points in time, given changes in technology and emerging technology, for example.

The Convener

I was not suggesting that there should be exactly the same percentage for all sectors. However, some sectors could perhaps do more than they currently do. Let us move on.

Finlay Carson (Galloway and West Dumfries) (Con)

We have heard about how the Scottish Government has taken advice on future targets, and particularly on percentages. The advice must take into account target-setting criteria. How were the target-setting criteria chosen? Why do they not align more closely with the climate change plan’s sectoral approach?

Sara Grainger

The target-setting criteria are given in the 2009 act. I was not around in 2008, so I was not involved in that, but I understand that a set of criteria was consulted on in 2008. I cannot tell members how they were arrived at in the first place in order to consult on them, but I know that a set of criteria was consulted on, that they were reconsidered in light of the consultation exercise, and that they were set out in the bill in 2008 and amended by Parliament. They ended up as they are in the 2009 act. We are carrying the process forward in the bill.

In the consultation that we ran last year for the bill, the only thing that we really looked at related to the first criterion, which is:

“the objective of not exceeding the fair and safe Scottish emissions budget”.

Our thinking internally was that that criterion was no longer particularly necessary in the form that it was in because of the move to percentage-based targets. To be clear on that point, there was never any suggestion that we should move away from the importance of the concept of a fair and safe Scottish emissions budget—that remained absolutely central—but we did not think that the criterion in that form was necessary any more. However, the consultation responses were quite clear. Environmental stakeholder groups were very clear that they did not want to lose that criterion in that form and that they considered it to be very important. Therefore, the bill that we have introduced makes no change to that.

The bill moves a couple of things around. I can go into detail on quite minor changes that we have made to the wording of some of the criteria, but the answer to the question is that the criteria primarily come from the 2009 act.

Finlay Carson

Throughout the bill, there is mention of the phrase

“as soon as reasonably practicable”,

and of the Scottish Government’s proposal to find “achievable” net targets. What does “reasonably practicable” mean in practice?

10:45  



Sara Grainger

I can answer the question on “achievable”, and then I will pass over to a colleague to talk about

“as soon as reasonably practicable”.

We will look to the UK Committee on Climate Change to advise us on what is “achievable”. Its current advice, on which the bill is based, is clear and explicit that going beyond a 90 per cent reduction is not feasible and stretches the bounds of credibility, so we interpret that as meaning that a reduction of more than 90 per cent is not achievable. That is what we mean by “achievable”.

Calum Webster (Scottish Government)

The term

“as soon as reasonably practicable”

does not have a formal definition in terms of something having to be done by a certain time. Part of the function of the term is that it needs to relate to the context to which it is being applied. The term is used quite extensively in the 2009 act and across a range of Scottish Government legislation. I am looking at Mark Eggeling to confirm that.

Finlay Carson

When you consider what is “reasonably practicable”, what do you take into account?

Calum Webster

It depends on the issue to which the term is being applied. There is a requirement in the 2009 act—which is included in the bill—that we have to publish advice from the CCC

“as soon as reasonably practicable”.

It would be reasonable to think that we could do that on the day that we receive such advice, which is what has happened in the past.

Some of the other requirements, such as the need to respond to the CCC’s annual progress report, require some judgment to be applied and some information to be gathered. It would be reasonable to expect that that would be done over a longer period—responding to such requirements might take weeks rather than days. My answer is that it depends on the nature of the task in hand.

The Convener

I issue a plea to members and witnesses to consider short, sharp questions and answers, wherever possible, so that we can cover as much ground as possible.

Claudia Beamish

I will follow up on my colleague Finlay Carson’s question about the phrase

“as soon as reasonably practicable”.

Does the bill require the information and advice from the UKCCC, to which you have referred, to be shared through a statement to Parliament, or can it simply be put on the internet or published in some other way as we move forward with the five-year commitment?

Calum Webster

There are no requirements in the bill other than to publish the advice. I believe that the same requirement is in the 2009 act.

Claudia Beamish

It is interesting that in section 5 there are 11 target-setting criteria. One of them, in proposed new section 2B(1)(i) of the 2009 act, refers specifically to “energy”, and proposed new section 2B(1)(e) refers to “economic circumstances”. Under “economic circumstances”, the bill refers to business more broadly. Why is “energy” specifically picked out, rather than agriculture or transport, for example? That seems strange—I will not use the word “arbitrary”, because energy is very important. How were those criteria decided? You said that they were based on the 2009 act, but my understanding is that there are fewer criteria in the 2009 act.

Sara Grainger

The criterion on energy policy is unchanged from the 2009 act—that is where it came from. I cannot tell you whether the Government conceived of it and consulted on it or whether it was added by amendment during the Parliament’s consideration of the Climate Change (Scotland) Bill, but we can endeavour to find that out.

What has been added to the criteria in the 2009 act is the criterion that

“current international carbon reporting practice”

be considered. That relates to the change in the accounting methodology that Tom Russon explained. That is the only substantive change to the criteria in the 2009 act.

Claudia Beamish

Were other heavy emitters such as agriculture and transport considered for inclusion in the criteria in the bill, given that energy was one of the criteria in the 2009 act? If so, why was their inclusion ruled out?

Sara Grainger

We did not look to change the criteria substantially; we accepted the criteria from the 2009 act. We merely made some very minor changes in the light of changes to the accounting framework and in response to stakeholders’ view that the Paris agreement should be more explicitly recognised. We did not conduct a full review of the rest of the criteria in the 2009 act—we accepted those as read.

Claudia Beamish

Do you not think that that sends a message that some sectors that are heavy emitters are more important than others? Are you able to give a view on that?

Sara Grainger

That is certainly not the intended message.

Claudia Beamish

I completely appreciate that. That is not what I am implying.

Stewart Stevenson

This is probably a question for Mark Eggeling. We have virtually nil legislative competence on energy—we have administrative devolution of sections 36 and 37 of the Electricity Act 1989—so we need to be quite cautious about how we legislate in relation to it. Is that a fair characterisation of the situation?

Mark Eggeling

Yes, there are a number of reservations in relation to energy matters, but there are areas of devolved competence, including the promotion of energy efficiency and the like. There are things that can be done within devolved competence in this area, which would, where necessary, be picked up in the climate change plan.

John Scott

I would like to move on to emissions accounting. Could you provide a clear explanation of how emissions accounting is being amended? How is the proposed 20 per cent limit calculated?

Dr Russon

In answering that, I might struggle with the convener’s steer to be brief.

The 2009 act established two primary mechanisms by which what are termed carbon units can be used in emissions accounting. Carbon units are internationally recognised carbon credits that can be bought or sold. They represent a degree of recognised confidence that some action will be undertaken somewhere to reduce emissions by a specified amount.

The 2009 act provides for two mechanisms by which carbon units can be used to contribute towards meeting the targets for Scotland, the first of which is an adjustment to reflect the operation of the EU emissions trading scheme in Scotland. That happens automatically every year under the current carbon accounting system. The EU ETS operates in Scotland. Companies are the actors in that scheme, under which they report their emissions and, if necessary, buy permits. At the end of each year, an adjustment is applied to Scottish emissions to reflect the operation of the scheme.

The second mechanism is more intuitively clear. It relates to the possibility that the Scottish ministers may purchase international carbon units as a way of offsetting Scotland’s total emissions. Under the 2009 act, that mechanism is subject to two limits.

The first is the domestic effort target, which, in effect, means that no more than 20 per cent of the year-on-year reduction in emissions can be met through the purchase of credits by ministers. Secondly, ministers have to set recurrently absolute limits on the maximum amount for which they can use purchased units for a period in advance, which roll forwards by five years each time—it is one of the many five-yearly targets.

To come to your question, the bill would change carbon accounting in two main ways, both of which are intended to improve transparency and simplicity, and would affect both of the existing mechanisms. First, the adjustment that reflects the operation of the EU ETS would be removed and emissions would be reported on the basis of Scottish emissions from all sectors of the economy.

The second change would be that, although the option for ministers to use purchased credits would be retained, a new default limit of zero use of such credits would be established. That would effectively provide a stricter limit than the existing measures. The change reflects this Government’s clear commitment not to use purchased credits as a way of meeting targets. That commitment was set out in the recent climate change plan and will apply until at least 2032.

The bill would establish a statutory limit of zero by default. The power would exist to allow that limit to be raised, if future ministers wanted to do that and Parliament agreed to do so through secondary legislation.

That takes us to the final part of your question, which is about the 20 per cent limit. If the limit on the purchase of carbon units were to be raised from zero, it could be raised only up to 20 per cent of the year-on-year reduction in emissions. How would that figure be calculated? Under the bill, all the annual targets for all future years would be known, which would allow you to work out the year-on-year reduction in emissions that would be required. You take the difference and multiply it by 20 per cent to give the maximum amount of credits that could be used in that given year.

Why a target of 20 per cent rather than 30 or 10 per cent? The level of the current domestic effort target under the 2009 act is set at 20 per cent. In a sense, the new limit provision of a default of zero but up to 20 per cent, if that is desired at some future point, would replace the domestic effort target from the 2009 act and means that the domestic effort target as it stands could not be missed in the future, because the most that could ever be purchased would be 20 per cent. Therefore, by way of rationalisation, the domestic effort target has been removed throughout the bill.

John Scott

Under what circumstances might that power be used, if you do not revert to the default position?

Dr Russon

That is an interesting question. As I have said, this Government does not intend to use credits so, in a sense, we are speculating. In its advice on the bill, the UK Committee on Climate Change clearly advised that limited flexibility to use credits be retained. The scenario that it explored is the possibility of unforeseen changes in economic output year to year and a need to counterbalance the industries, especially those in the industrial sectors, as that economic output changes.

More widely, as with a lot of the measures in the 2009 act and in the bill, we are looking a long way into the future and there is a huge amount of broad uncertainty about international carbon trading and the co-ordination of those efforts. It seemed to us to be prudent to retain the capability to come back to the issue without needing further primary legislation to do so. However, the balance that is being struck is to set out clearly a simple principle for the foreseeable future, which is that there would be no use of carbon units in any form.

John Scott

Would the inventory revisions make targets easier or harder to meet? Would the proposed changes help to ensure greater objectivity, consistency and transparency?

Sara Grainger

Not using international carbon credits makes the targets harder to meet. We have not previously used such credits in Scotland, so that is not a comparison with our past, but with a hypothetical possibility, or potentially with other countries that do use them. All the effort having to be domestic is substantially tougher than its not having to be so.

11:00  



John Scott

Will that help objectivity and transparency? Will it become clearer to us all that that is a better way of doing things?

Sara Grainger

Yes. The default scenario being that zero credits will be used is much easier to explain than saying that we will consider every few years whether or not to use credits.

Richard Lyle

By virtue of sections 16, 17 and 18, the bill rationalises the annual report produced under sections 33 and 34 of the 2009 act. In what ways have sections 33 and 34 been rationalised? What has been removed or changed, and for what reason has that been done?

Sara Grainger

That is a very big question on which to be brief. Perhaps Calum Webster can do so.

Calum Webster

I will try to be brief. If the committee will bear with me, I will find the relevant sections of the 2009 act.

The rationale for making those changes has come about through stakeholder requests for alteration of the way in which we have reported on emissions in the past. At the moment, there is a convention that the cabinet secretary makes a statement in June, following publication of the greenhouse gas emissions statistics. That is not a statutory requirement, but there is a requirement in the act that a statement be made by the end of October. There is a lot of crossover between the content of the June statement that follows publication of the statistics and the statutory statement that the act requires to be made in October. That was raised at the conveners group in October 2017. There was a proposal from WWF Scotland, I think, that the contents of and requirements for the October statement be moved wholesale, to be applied following the publication of the statistics in June, and for there to be a statutory report and statement then, followed later in the year by more detailed reports on progress that had been made in the sectors later on.

The changes to sections 33 and 34 of the 2009 act have been made to allow that to happen. They are broadly similar as far as what they do is concerned, but a couple of elements that were contained in the reports have been removed. The first one that I will go into is the requirement to report against electricity-related measures in section 34(4) of the 2009 act. By removing that, we are able to make the statement and produce the report earlier than we would have been otherwise. We discussed that approach with the discussion group that we set up to look at technical elements of the bill. It was content with that proposal, because such issues are reported on under the energy statistics and also annually in relation to the energy strategy. Therefore they are not being lost; they will just be reported in another form.

Tom Russon has just talked about removal of the domestic effort target, and the reasoning behind that. That has also come out of the requirements to be reported on under section 33, although we have retained in the bill a requirement to report on the percentage of year-on-year reductions that are related to domestic effort, in the event that a future Government should choose to move away from the default position that has been established under the 2009 act.

There have been other minor changes to the criteria to reflect the fact that we have moved from fixed amounts to percentage reductions under the proposals in the bill.

The Convener

I would like a little bit of clarity on that. I clearly have a personal interest in the issue, having raised it at the Conveners Group, and it is terribly important. Courtesy of the bill, will we potentially end up in a situation in which different ministers will give statements indicating the performance in their portfolios?

Sara Grainger

WWF proposed that, in the space created in October by the June statement being made statutory, each relevant minister or cabinet secretary should make a statement to Parliament about progress in their area. We discussed and considered that, but thought that it would be quite unwieldy. I had several discussions with WWF about a different form, whereby reports on progress in each sector would be required to be laid in Parliament, but there would not necessarily have to be a statement by the Scottish ministers.

In legislation, we cannot put a requirement on any particular cabinet secretary or minister; the requirement has to be on the Scottish ministers and how it gets divvied up is up to the First Minister. We were not able to specify that the reports have to come from or be spoken to by particular cabinet secretaries, but the reports have to reflect different chapters in the climate change plan. A suite of reports will be laid in Parliament, and it will be for Parliament and its committees to consider how to make use of them and whether to call different ministers to discuss the reports.

The Convener

There is no requirement for statements to be made.

Sara Grainger

That is correct.

The Convener

That is interesting. Thank you for that.

Let us move on. In terms of recommendations from the Parliament about process, there was considerable discussion about the period that parliamentary committees have for the consideration of draft plans. There was unanimity on 60 days being completely inadequate and, if I recall correctly, there was some degree of discussion about what a better arrangement might look like, during which there was talk of 120 days, no limit and so on. In the bill, we appear to have reached a point at which the period would be extended to 90 days, only 60 days of which would be parliamentary sitting days. Can you explain the rationale behind the position that has been arrived at?

Calum Webster

Under the 2009 act, the trigger for climate change plans is the making of an order to set an annual target, which, at the moment, must be done at least every five years. The bill does not require the setting of annual targets in the same way because, as Tom Russon said, they are calculated mechanistically in relation to the interim of the 2050 target. That trigger will be lost, but it will be replaced by the requirement to lay a climate change plan at least every five years.

On that basis, we looked at the responses to the consultation, in which we asked specific questions on what the consideration period should be, and we took into account the views of committees when we discussed this with the technical discussion group. The position that we came to for the bill is that, to ensure that the Scottish ministers could meet the requirement in the bill to lay a plan within five years, there should be a defined period for the committee and the Parliament to look at the plan. If that was not there, it might not be possible for the Scottish ministers to meet that requirement.

We came to the minister’s view that the extension of the time period in which the Parliament has to consider plans, from 60 days to 90 days, which includes the 60 sitting days, is a good balance between the current arrangements and the calls for the consideration period to be open-ended.

The Convener

I suppose that the only thing to say is that, if recess periods are included in that, we could lose quite a lot of time and momentum in the scrutiny process.

The other aspect is that, as I read it, there is no time limit for the Government to produce, lay or, indeed, finalise its draft plan. I recognise that the last time that the Government produced a plan we asked it to take its time in finalising its draft, so I am not being hypocritical—I just want to be clear on the position.

Sara Grainger

There is a time limit for when the final draft plan has to be laid—it has to be within five years of the previous draft plan. There is a defined period within which that has to be done.

The Convener

But in terms of—

Sara Grainger

There is no requirement for when we get started.

The Convener

It strikes me that, although 90 days is an improvement, I am not convinced that where we have got to is exactly the best place.

Stewart Stevenson

On page 17 of the bill, we see new section 35B, which will be part of the replacement for section 35 of the 2009 act. In relation to the report on the plan, new section 35B(3) states that a report has to be laid by 31 October. Presumably that interacts with laying the plan itself.

Sara Grainger

I am sorry—can you ask that question again?

Stewart Stevenson

I am on page 17 of the bill and looking at new section 35B(3), which is on line 18. It refers back to new section 35B(1), which reads:

“The Scottish Ministers must in each relevant year, lay before the Scottish Parliament a report on each substantive chapter of the most recent climate change plan”.

The plan has been consulted on for two varying lengths of time when the Parliament is sitting. Nonetheless, to some extent, that need to lay the report by 31 October will interact with the 60/90 days. How does it do that?

Sara Grainger

I think that I understand your question.

Stewart Stevenson

I may not understand the question. I am really asking how they interact.

Sara Grainger

New section 35B is about the progress reports against the plan. By each 31 October, the relevant Scottish ministers will be required to report on progress to Parliament against the plan that is the plan at that time. If there is a plan in prep, that one would not be reported against; it would be—

Stewart Stevenson

Do forgive me—let me just intervene. There is no legislative interaction between the two, because 31 October deals with whatever plan is prevailing.

Sara Grainger

Yes.

Stewart Stevenson

In practical terms, is it in the minds of ministers that 31 October and the laying of a draft plan interact in some way? If that is in the ministers’ minds, would it be appropriate for us to consider whether the bill as drafted should be tidied up to make it clearer what that interaction is?

Sara Grainger

I cannot comment on what is in the minister’s mind. I can confirm that that has not been in our minds, as officials. That is not a conversation that we have had.

Stewart Stevenson

That is fine. We will move on.

The Convener

Let us wrap this up by looking at the finances. The financial memorandum states that

“moving from an 80% to 90% Greenhouse Gas reduction target is estimated to result in an additional system cost of approximately £13 billion over the period 2030-2050”.

There are also other accompanying figures. I would like to understand how robust the methodology is for calculating indirect costs and what the margin for error is within that method. It is not an exact science.

Sara Grainger

It certainly is not. There is a great deal of uncertainty around the cost estimates that are given—they are given as a best indication rather than anything more. The only thing that we can be absolutely certain of is that they will be wrong, but I cannot tell you in which direction.

The Convener

How good a guess is it?

Sara Grainger

That is not something that I can answer. The costs given under the TIMES modelling section, are, quite evidently, from TIMES. To the best of my knowledge, analysts have not attempted to calculate confidence intervals for that. I do not know whether that would be possible or even a sensible thing to do. I am happy to take that away and look into it.

The Convener

In the absence of such detail, it looks like a figure that has been plucked out of thin air. I know that it is not. Is some of the detail publicly available? Can we see it?

11:15  



Sara Grainger

I am not sure that I understand.

The Convener

We have a figure here of £13 billion for the estimated system cost over a 20-year period. We are looking for an understanding of how accurate that figure may be, how it was arrived at and what confidence we can have in it. Mr Scott is whispering in my ear, “Can we see the workings?”

Sara Grainger

We could potentially show you the workings of TIMES, but you might be very sorry that you asked.

The Convener

Let us break it down in another way. Presumably, we have an understanding of what things were added together to get £13 billion. What does that look like on a sectoral basis?

Sara Grainger

We definitely cannot answer the question about what it looks like on a sectoral basis. My understanding of TIMES is limited, but I know that it only gives the overall system cost. Any ideas about where those costs might fall depend on decisions taken by ministers in climate change plans.

The Convener

I am sorry, but I am getting inundated with requests from my colleagues to ask questions—little wonder.

Sara Grainger

I can see that it is a very popular subject.

The Convener

A take away from today is that you need to come back to the committee with as much detail as you can provide, because at the moment it looks pretty ropy.

Mark Ruskell

I found that answer quite staggering. Why produce a figure at all if you cannot justify it? I am interested in all the assumptions behind the £13 billion figure. For example, does TIMES assume a degree of technology reinvestment, as technology comes to an end and there is investment in new technology and capital plant? We need to understand whether those are additional costs to tackling climate change or whether they are costs that are inherent in moving an energy system towards 2050.

Sara Grainger

I understand.

Mark Ruskell

The kind of energy plant that we would have had in 1986, in Longannet, for example, had to get shut and that is a system cost. Would TIMES see that as a massive cost?

Sara Grainger

I am sorry. I have clearly done an exceptionally bad job of explaining where the numbers come from. It is true that they are indications.

Mark Ruskell

They have been put into words in the committee session and we need to understand exactly what the basis for such a figure is when it is thrown up as a cost.

Sara Grainger

I can do a little better, verbally. We came up with that £13 billion figure by running TIMES under the assumptions of the climate change plan for the 80 per cent end target for 2050. We then ran the figures again using the 90 per cent target. We took the systems costs from both and subtracted one from the other to find the difference, which was £13 billion. That is above and beyond the cost that would happen anyway through society continuing to function. It is the additional cost of moving from a target of 80 per cent to one of 90 per cent.

Mark Ruskell

Is it reliant on purchasing credits?

Sara Grainger

No.

The Convener

Did anyone look at the figures for what it would cost if we did not do it?

Sara Grainger

Yes. That is the cost of the climate change plan. We gave you that figure in the letter that we sent to the committee—I will try to find it. The £13 billion is in addition. If we did not increase the targets but kept them at 80 per cent, the cost would be 2.2 per cent of gross domestic product. We would need to come back to you further on that.

The Convener

I want to get the overall picture. There may be an additional cost of some amount, but there will be an additional cost to the economy if we do not do it.

Sara Grainger

I understand what you mean. You are asking about the additional cost to the economy of not tackling climate change.

The Convener

Yes.

Sara Grainger

We attempted to set that out in the financial memorandum, based on the work that was done for us by ClimateXChange, which looked at the global literature, at the costs of limiting climate change beyond 2° to nearer 1.5°, at the cost of the damage if we do not mitigate, and at the cost of mitigation and adaptation. It was not able to come up with costs for Scotland, but it was able to review average costs for countries and jurisdictions.

The ClimateXChange report is nicely titled—“Landscape review of international assessments of the economic impacts of climate change”. I am surprised that you have not come across it. It sets out the costs as a percentage of GDP, and the upshot is that the cost of not mitigating climate change would probably be more than the cost of mitigating climate change, but that is on the basis of probability, because the estimates of cost depend so much on the likelihood of extreme events, which are an issue of probability.

The Convener

It sounds a pretty scary figure, if it is accurate, but in reality it is not, because we have to do it.

Sara Grainger

It is a big, scary number, but the cost of not tackling climate change would also be a big, scary number. That is the summary.

Stewart Stevenson

Section 19 of the bill replaces section 35 of the 2009 act with a new section 35. Subsection (4) of that new section is a word-for-word replication of section 35(9) of the 2009 act, and subsection (5) of the new section is a word-for-word replication of section 35(10) of the 2009 act. What do they say in relation to the breakdown of costs? The new section 35(4) that is introduced by section 19 of the bill states that the plan must set out

“proposals and policies regarding the respective contributions towards meeting the emissions reduction targets that should be made by—

(a) energy efficiency,

(b) energy generation,

(c) land use, and

(d) transport.”

That is word for word what is in the 2009 act. New section 35(5) states:

“The plan must also explain how the proposals and policies set out in the plan are expected to affect different sectors of the Scottish economy.”

You appear to have told us that we cannot do that—that we cannot break down the costs according to how they affect different sectors of the economy—or have I misunderstood what I have been hearing?

Sara Grainger

Yes and no. What we cannot do is separate out the costs up to 2050, so there is a difference in what we can say about the plan and what we can say about targets up to 2050.

Stewart Stevenson

Forgive me for intervening, but I want to bring this to a conclusion. Is it the case that that really relates only to the plan?

Sara Grainger

That is correct.

Stewart Stevenson

So it is essentially retrospective rather than prospective.

Sara Grainger

Well, the plans look forward.

Stewart Stevenson

Yes, but as far as the plan goes forward—and we are looking in the first instance at a plan that goes to 2032—we should have the numbers under those separate headings, rather than there being one aggregate number. I do not have the plan to hand, so I cannot answer that question for myself.

Sara Grainger

I am going to say that you must be mistaken because we have not done that and we surely would have done if we were required to. I will need to take that one away.

The Convener

Please come back to us on that, because there will be a lot of interest in that aspect.

Claudia Beamish

I would like to see what you come back with, because I have quite serious concerns about it, especially going between 2040 and 2050. If we do not know what the technology is going to be, I do not understand how we can be putting figures into the air.

John Scott

I have to declare an interest, as I come from a sector where it is all very well just to say that there is a cost of £13 billion, but people would quite like to know the real costs that they are likely to bear. Our economy is reducing in Scotland, as we speak, and you are gaily saying, “Well it might cost businesses £13 billion to carry on doing what they are doing, if we are to deliver on our climate change targets.” A breakdown, sector by sector, would be enormously helpful in giving an indication of the burden that is likely to be placed on each sector by the climate change proposals. Stewart Stevenson made that point. Are you unable to provide such a breakdown, or are you not prepared to do so?

Sara Grainger

We are simply not able to provide that—

John Scott

Do you not agree that it would be helpful, or do you just think, “Tough”?

Sara Grainger

I am certainly not disagreeing that it would be helpful, if you are telling me that it would be helpful. It is not possible for us to provide—

The Convener

I think that the point is that it is necessary. We need to see the figures, if we are to determine whether the £13 billion figure is credible. There must be figures that add up to £13 billion.

Sara Grainger

We will take the issue back to the analysts who run TIMES and see what we can do. I am really sorry if I have given the impression that I am gaily bandying the figure around. That was certainly not my intention.

John Scott

Not gaily, but without explanation.

Sara Grainger

Well, clearly with a poor explanation, which I will endeavour to correct.

The Convener

I must bring in Richard Lyle, because he has been waiting patiently.

Richard Lyle

Is the £13 billion based on today’s prices or 2050 prices?

Sara Grainger

Today’s prices.

Richard Lyle

What is £13 billion in 2050 prices?

Sara Grainger

I cannot tell you that.

Richard Lyle

It is at least £200 billion, given inflation and so on over the next 30-odd years.

John Scott

Is it fair to say that, in enacting the bill, we would be asking businesses in Scotland to sign a blank cheque, given the unquantifiable cost and burden that is likely to be placed on them? Is that a fair assessment?

Sara Grainger

No, I do not think that it is. Where the costs—

John Scott

How would you define it, then?

Sara Grainger

Where the costs fall will depend on the decisions that ministers make in the production of climate change plans, because it is the plans that will establish how we are to meet the targets. That is where the impact can be considered, in relation to where the costs will fall. We cannot do that for the targets out to 2050.

The Convener

Let us be accurate: the costs will fall on the public sector and individuals, too. They will not fall just on business.

Sara Grainger

In theory, at least, the costs could fall on the public sector, on individuals and households and on businesses. They could fall to one group entirely and not the others, or in any kind of mix.

The Convener

It is a mix of the three groups.

Sara Grainger

Yes.

The Convener

We have covered a lot of ground and I want to draw the discussion to a conclusion. We are particularly interested in the financial element.

Sara Grainger

Understood.

The Convener

You have agreed to come back to us on a number of things, and we look forward to that. Not only would it be helpful to have as much detail as possible on the financial element, I think that such detail is necessary, to be frank.

I thank the witnesses for their time.

11:28 Meeting suspended.  



11:32 On resuming—  



Video Thumbnail Preview PNG

Second meeting transcript

The Convener

Agenda item 2 is to take evidence on the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill. This is our second evidence session with stakeholders.

I am delighted to welcome our two witnesses, who are joining us via videoconference from Sweden. Stefan Nyström is the director of the department for climate change and air quality at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, and Anders Wijkman is the chair of EIT Climate-KIC.

We will start with questions about how climate change is currently being tackled in Sweden. Scotland and Sweden have similar topography and land uses—densely packed urban centres and significant agricultural, forestry and other rural land uses. What have been the key challenges in developing and implementing Sweden’s environmental objectives and integrated climate and energy policy?

Stefan Nyström (Swedish Environmental Protection Agency)

That is a good question. Obviously, there are several challenges. One of the main challenges is that Sweden is a small country whose prosperity depends on international trade, and there is the issue of competitiveness in relation to how to maintain or increase standards in Sweden while facing competition from other countries that might not do the same. Will our doing that hurt our country’s competitiveness, or will we gain an advantage from it? Will it be costly? How can we protect ourselves and gain advantage in competitiveness? The pace of increasing environmental standards affecting competitiveness is one of the main issues.

Anders Wijkman (EIT Climate-KIC)

I agree. One climate policy advantage that Sweden has over many other countries is that we have a more or less CO2-free electric power system. We have a combination of hydro power and nuclear power, and nuclear power is now gradually being phased out and replaced by increased renewable energy production. That is due to peak around 2040, which makes us a bit special in the European context. Over the years, we have had discussions about whether we could be a much larger net exporter of electricity and help countries including Poland and Germany to close down some of their coal-powered stations. That is the advantage for us.

The convener asked about environmental objectives in general. The main challenge is to move away from the more or less silo-based approach in which we have tried to target each environmental goal in its own right. We are, increasingly, realising that we have to do much more in an integrated fashion. That goes for our environmental objectives and for the United Nations sustainable development goals. The vertical approach that has dominated so far, with each ministry focusing on its particular concerns, will not really work.

The Convener

Has buy-in been needed from all sectors working together in order for you to have achieved what you have achieved?

Stefan Nyström

Exactly.

The Convener

That buy-in has obviously happened.

Stefan Nyström

Yes, it has happened. The main difficulty, other than the things that we have spoken about, has been politics. We need to make sure that environmental policy is not treated as a right or left issue, because it is not: it is, for obvious reasons, a matter of the planet’s survival. We can see that technology can help us because it will be cheaper and more competitive to use better technology in the future. The main challenge has been to manage the political context, in which short-term squabbling is the main agenda of the day. However, 87 per cent of the Swedish Parliament now stands firmly behind the goals.

We also have a long-term energy remit that aims to create an electricity production system that is free from CO2 emissions by 2040. We can see that that will happen before then, because the wind energy industry is increasing extremely quickly in Sweden—so much so that it no longer needs any subsidies.

The Convener

Was the Paris agreement the catalyst for the wider agreement, or was that agreement already happening?

Anders Wijkman

The answer is yes and no. The Government set up a climate task force in 2015. Our goal was to reach net zero emissions by 2050, but the Paris agreement influenced the task force, so we moved the target date closer—we now have a target of reaching net zero emissions by 2045.

The convener asked about the challenges and difficulties: I will mention two, specifically. First, we have agreed on the targets and goals, which is the first step, but we will experience a lot of difficulties with implementation, simply because there is a tendency in our country—as there is in other countries—for our Ministry of Finance often to use a discount rate, which delays action because the assumption is that we will be much richer in the future. That relates to the old debate between Nordhaus and Stern, from 2006. The finance ministry is often wrong; we should do things much more quickly. The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report speaks in favour of that approach; if people read the report carefully, they will know that the whole world has to reduce emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 in order to have a chance of meeting the Paris agreement. We cannot continue to delay action. That is one difficulty.

The other difficulty is in distinguishing between incremental change—which we have done so far by cutting fuel emissions year by year, for example—and the transformation that we now need. We will not get close to zero emissions with incremental change; we need transformation in several of the major sectors. We need transformation not only in the energy sectors, but in sectors including cement, steel, aluminium, plastics, textiles—which is a horror story—electronics and agriculture. We need to do things in totally different ways in all those sectors. Most people do not realise what that transformation means.

John Scott (Ayr) (Con)

Gillian Martin touched on this point. I note that Sweden has a long history of environmental protection, with strong public support and buy-in. How have politicians and Governments managed to achieve such a high level of support for decarbonisation and other environmental objectives? How did you manage to persuade your public and electorate that those are good ideas?

Stefan Nyström

That was done through a combination of means.

Anders Wijkman

Luck!

Stefan Nyström

As always, luck had something to do with it. The Paris agreement offered a window of opportunity for taking long-term rather than short-term action, which for obvious reasons often dominates the political agenda. We also saw that technology that was not currently available and which would help Sweden to decrease emissions from large sources was around the corner.

The mining and minerals industry, for example, has now put before us an action plan to become fossil free by 2035. That industry accounts for a large proportion of emissions in Sweden; the steel sector alone accounts for 10 per cent of our emissions, or more than 5 million tonnes.

The list is long, so the general understanding of the fact that climate change will harm our economy and will hurt us all badly if we do not take action is widespread in Swedish society, spurred by the climate agreement in Paris and then translated into action both in terms of political goals and in terms of action plans from the commercial side, which has helped a lot. As has been stated before, there is a long tradition of awareness in Swedish society, so the whole process has been shared, so to speak, and it has been spurred on and helped by the non-governmental organisations that wanted us to go further. There has been a movement in general since the window of opportunity opened up, thanks to a combination of the Paris agreement and technological change. That has facilitated transition.

Anders Wijkman

I interpreted your question a bit more widely—you asked about historical development. Sweden is in a rather special situation, as I said before. We are a small population in a very large land area. We have lots of forests, so we can use biomass cleverly if we need to, and we also have hydro capacity.

For a number of reasons that are not related to climate change mitigation, Sweden took a decision in the 1960s to develop nuclear energy. If we had not done that, we would have been 40 to 50 per cent dependent on fossil fuels for our electricity production. That decision was made mostly because of concerns about energy security at that time. You may recall the oil crisis at the beginning of the 1970s. At that time, I was a member of the Swedish Parliament and the question of how we could be less dependent on outside sources of energy dominated the energy policy debate. Nuclear energy was also seen by industry as a cheap way to produce electricity. In retrospect, you could say that for a period it was, but now, when we include the costs of waste disposal and long-term management of nuclear waste, that is no longer true, because the fee that reactor owners have to pay per kilowatt hour for disposal is increasing as we speak. Things have changed a lot, but that background is important.

John Scott

Sweden’s integrated climate change and energy policy has set testing interim and final targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions. What process was followed to pass that legislation? You spoke earlier about the beginning of the process and setting the targets. What key factors did you consider when deciding on the targets?

Stefan Nyström

Are you asking about the targets in the energy sector for 2040 and the climate change goals?

John Scott

Both or either—whichever you prefer to talk about.

Stefan Nyström

They are connected, in a way. There is a tremendous amount of academic work being done through close relations between the Government policy side and industry. Behind the system of energy goals was a job that was carried out by the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. For about three years it looked at various businesses and the possibility of their becoming fossil-fuel free by 2040.

09:15  



At the same time, we had a group of politicians closely following the work. That opened up a common understanding that becoming fossil-fuel free is possible, and that, rather than being costly, it will quickly serve our country well. For instance, wind power is going to increase tremendously quickly in our country because we now have a more market-based incentive system that is part of the whole equation. It was launched in 2003.

Generally, Sweden produces about 160 terawatt hours of power a year and consumes about 140 to 145 terawatt hours. In 2006, we produced our first terawatt hour of wind energy. Today, it is more, and we think that we will produce 30 terawatt hours by 2021, based on the decisions that have been made. The transition is very fast, and costs have come down to below what it would cost to introduce new coal-powered or nuclear plants. Wind power will dominate our energy system by 2040—it will be the new nuclear, so to speak. That was an important part of getting the politicians to agree on the energy goals for 2040.

Of course, that was done in parallel with the process that Anders Wijkman and I have worked on in setting the climate goals. The two aspects are very interconnected. If a country cannot at least get a CO2-free electricity production system, it will be difficult to reach the goals for transition in the transport sector, which needs zero-emitting electricity production systems.

That is the situation with regard to the energy system. Anders Wijkman will speak about the climate process.

Anders Wijkman

The first decision that we took in leading the task force was to ensure that each member of the committee, on which seven political parties were represented, had more or less the same understanding of the challenges. We spent about half a year listening to experts, travelling around Sweden, talking to people and doing deep dives into particular sectors to try to understand the challenges and the opportunities in terms of technology, substitution and so on.

As Stefan Nyström said, the energy system was a critically important area. Electricity is now more or less under control, and we look forward to rather rapid electrification of private vehicles. There is still a big question mark over heavy traffic, because we do not know whether the solution will involve electricity, hydrogen or synthetic biofuels. We have to have an open mind in that regard.

Other sectors are also of particular importance. I already referred to basic materials manufacture—cement, steel and so on. Most people do not talk about it, but basic materials manufacture makes up about 20 per cent of global emissions, and demand for basic materials is rising sharply, especially in developing countries. Unless we address that issue and consider it to be the responsibility of countries such as Sweden to provide the world with new technologies, the requirements of the Paris agreement will never be met. It is not just an energy-system issue—it is very much an issue that concerns infrastructure and basic materials. We have some policies in place in Sweden to try to incentivise change in that regard.

Of course, the agriculture sector is critically important. We talk a lot about meat and meat consumption, but I point out that every time you put a plough into the soil, you release a lot of carbon. We have more and more evidence from different parts of the world—in particular, the USA and Australia, but also west Africa—that a combination of rotation of crops and no-till agriculture is preferable, because that enables soil fertility to be built up, soil erosion to be halted and soil to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. We have not been able to convince the agricultural sector about that yet, never mind those who are preparing the next phase of the common agricultural policy.

I single that out as a very important issue. If Sweden, Scotland and some other countries, in particular France, could co-operate, there could be a breakthrough, with Brussels starting to incentivise farmers to do the right things and to stop building up carbon. That will be critical.

Those are areas of importance. City planning is another issue, and moving from a situation in which cars are all over the place to one in which public transport, biking and walking are the primary transportation modes is a major issue for the long term.

John Scott

Thank you for that. I declare an interest as a farmer. I am interested to hear you say that you have identified something similar to what we have identified in Scotland. Although those in our agricultural industry are prepared to shoulder their share of the burden, it has yet to be demonstrated to them by those who have the technology, or the ability to tell them, how it should be done. There is a lack of knowledge transfer here. Is it the same in Sweden?

Anders Wijkman

I do not want to sound condescending, but the agricultural sector is a bit conservative. There has been a rather slow uptake of the ideas. I suggest that you invite Professor David Montgomery from the US to give evidence. He recently wrote a fascinating book called “Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life” in which he uses a lot of examples from the midwest to show the benefits of what he calls regenerative or conservation agriculture.

We need to pilot schemes and pilot demonstration projects for farmers to see it work with their own eyes, because it is a risk to move from something that they are doing today to something that is totally different. The benefits are crucial. Of course, soil is different in different parts of the world, so the new approach would have to be applied differently. It is a very interesting area.

Mark Ruskell (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Green)

I return to the questions about energy. You have a very ambitious target to remove fossil fuels from your heating system by 2020. That is an area that we have particularly struggled with in Scotland. What do you deploy? Is it biomass? Is it electrical heating? Is it district heating? How will you get to that target?

Stefan Nyström

It is a combination of all the measures that you have mentioned. We already have little fossil fuel use left in that sector. During the oil crisis in the 1970s, a conscious policy decision was made to decrease the use of fossil fuels tremendously. The target is ambitious, but I think that we will be able to reach it—if not by 2020, at least by 2021.

Anders Wijkman

We use district heating to a larger extent than most of Europe—about 55 per cent of households are connected to district heating, which has helped, because it is an efficient system. In parts of the country we have combined heat and power, which means that we use biomass—or whatever the energy source is—much more efficiently.

Over the years, we have used an increasing number of heat pumps. They have taken over. In some parts of Sweden, district heating faces difficulties, because energy demand is being reduced. Consequently, new business models for that energy source will need to be developed.

Those are the main responses.

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP)

I want to come back to farming, which impacts three of the seven greenhouse gases that are internationally recognised. We have talked about carbon dioxide and tilling. Methane mainly comes from bovine sources, but it is not particularly persistent. However, the gas that I want to ask about and seek an answer to is nitrous oxide, which persists for more than 100 years. It comes from transport and other sources, but a large source of it is the production of artificial fertilisers for farming. Has Sweden done any work to identify alternative sources of fertilisers to help farmers and perhaps, in addition to securing the climate change benefits, to reduce farmers’ dependence on artificial fertilisers as well as their costs?

Anders Wijkman

I do not think that either of us is an expert on this matter. Incidentally, though, the other week I met Hans Herren, the Swiss expert on this matter and head of the Millennium Institute, which is active all over the world advising farmers. In a talk that he gave at a conference, he basically said that he looked forward to the phasing out of conventional fertilisers through a change in farming practices, although perhaps not in parts of Africa where there has been tremendous soil erosion and loss of nutrients. There are some new developments, but I cannot say that we in Sweden have championed them. I am sorry about that.

The other day, I ran into an interesting article that suggested that methane from cattle can be reduced by mixing seaweed into fodder. There is obviously quite a lot of technological development going on.

Angus MacDonald (Falkirk East) (SNP)

You might be aware that, in Scotland, we publish a climate change plan every five years, setting out how emissions will be reduced in seven key sectors over the following 15 years. How does Sweden approach and report on sectoral greenhouse gas emissions reductions?

Stefan Nyström

Under new Swedish climate legislation that was launched on 1 January and which was the result of work that Anders Wijkman and I carried out, the Government must produce such a plan every fourth year. If year zero is an election year—in Sweden, the Government that wins the election has a four-year mandate—the Government will receive the relevant statistics from all the authorities at the beginning of the first year of that mandate period, which gives it as much time as possible to produce an action plan for the next four years. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency gathers all the materials from the various sectors, produces that statistical analysis and hands the information over to the Government.

We also do the same thing annually, which allows us to see how emissions are developing in the various sectors each year. However, the Government has to present an action plan to Parliament every four years.

Anders Wijkman

As in the UK, we have a climate change committee that provides an independent voice and is supposed to provide both positive and negative comments on the Government’s plan. I assume that it will also come up with its own proposal if it thinks that the Government is not doing its job. However, that is a relatively new development, and we do not know how it will work yet.

We were inspired to a large extent by the British legislation. In November 2015, we visited London to meet Lord Deben—John Gummer—and that visit was instrumental in convincing some of the members that the idea of a special law or legislation was a good one.

09:30  



The Convener

I want to go back to some of the areas where progress has been a little sticky—the difficult sectors. In Scotland, we have a similar situation to the one that you have described. We have been reducing our emissions, but a lot of that has been down to closing a coal-fired power station. Anders Wijkman mentioned construction and agriculture, but what other sticky and difficult-to-change sectors are there? More importantly, what strategies have been put in place to facilitate change in those sectors?

Stefan Nyström

I think that we can share a picture with the committee. [Interruption.] No, it does not want to work.

The Convener

I am seeing something that says “Policy instruments”. Is that what we should be seeing?

Stefan Nyström

No. It is supposed to be a picture showing the largest emitting sectors in Sweden.

The Convener

Do not worry—you can send it on and we can put it into our evidence as supplementary evidence. Perhaps you could just talk us through it.

Anders Wijkman

Let us start with steel which, as Stefan Nyström indicated, is the source of roughly 10 to 15 per cent of our yearly emissions. The Government has offered a special package to the steel industry, which now has a major project to try to go from today’s steel production technology to using hydrogen for oxygen reduction. The industry is quite optimistic that that can happen before 2035. I met industry representatives a couple of weeks ago and said, “Couldn’t we speed it up?” They said, “Of course—if you provide us with more capital and financial resources, we could probably do it within 10 years.”

The cement industry is another challenge. I am a little bit at a loss on that. I do not know whether you saw the Chatham House report that came out about a month ago that basically said that, with present knowledge, we can cut emissions from cement production by 45 to 50 per cent over the next 10 to 15 years. However, when I meet senior officials in companies such as LafargeHolcim, they indicate that they already know how to produce cement in a way that is CO2 free but that the technology is too expensive and does not fit in their business model. We have to try to understand what we could do in the economy to incentivise that.

Steel and cement are two very important areas. The third one is of course plastics. On that, we depend a lot on what goes on in the European Union, where the Commission has taken on an ambitious role in that area.

Some consumption sectors, such as textiles and electronics, are also very problematic. We talk about the circular economy, but we should remember that less than 1 per cent of fibres from textiles are being recycled. The textiles sector alone accounts for 6 to 7 per cent of the direct and indirect carbon emissions in the world, so that is a huge challenge. The way that fashion is being offered, where people buy new stuff all the time, is definitely not sustainable. Consumers have to play their part, but the industry has to do a lot.

It is the same with electronics. I cannot even change the battery of the telephone beside me, because the plastics that are used are glued together. It is very difficult to recycle high-quality plastics. Today, the only materials used in the sector that are recycled and reused are copper and gold—the rest are incinerated. We have a huge problem because the sector is increasing so quickly, and there are areas in which we do not yet have any effective policy instruments.

Stefan Nyström

Those issues are obviously very difficult. I will complement Anders Wijkman’s answer by looking at territorial emissions. Can you see the picture that I am sharing with you that says “Transformational change needed”?

The Convener

Yes, we can.

Stefan Nyström

Excellent. The lower line shows industry, the red one shows transport and the green one shows agriculture. If you look at 2045, you can see that what will be left in relation to our aims and the goals that we have set will be emissions from agriculture and industry. We can see that it will be difficult, primarily in the agricultural sector, to reduce emissions with our current knowledge. Around the corner, we have technologies that might be efficient, but we do not know whether they will be able to be deployed.

Unfortunately, carbon capture and storage will be necessary to achieve our goals. Anders Wijkman mentioned the cement industry, which accounts for 5 per cent of Swedish territorial emissions—the emissions that are produced in Sweden. We cannot take emissions lower than 50 per cent without transformational change and that change is not possible at the moment, except through the use of carbon capture and storage.

The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency believes that we need to develop CCS infrastructure—not alone, for obvious reasons, but in a European context. Norway claims to own 30 to 40 per cent of the total known storage possibilities, and Norway and Sweden, as neighbouring countries, co-operate very closely.

For the years 2050 and beyond, which are not shown on the graph, we need negative emissions. Sweden is well endowed with forests, and we have 30 million tonnes of biogenic emissions from the forest industry. If we could store those emissions in proper bio-energy with carbon capture and storage facilities, we could produce negative emissions, but such facilities have not materialised yet. They are waiting around the corner and everybody is speaking about them, but they have not been created yet. We need them by 2035 in order to meet the goals for the cement industry and to achieve the goals of negative emissions in the latter end of this century that are needed but which have not yet been set.

Stewart Stevenson

I have a couple of relatively technical questions that have come from what you have said. The use of carbon capture and storage in the cement industry is being discussed to a limited extent in Scotland. However, that would require post-processing extraction of carbon dioxide from the emissions from the cement industry, which would be done largely through washing the gases with a nitric acid bath. That takes us back to the point about nitrous oxide being the precursor chemical for producing nitric acid.

Are other carbon capture and storage technologies being looked at? I know of seven different technologies, a number of which involve precombustion, which means using the right amount of oxygen and so on. Unless I am mistaken, the cement industry uses a post-processing extraction process that relies on nitric acid. Has Sweden done anything that might help with that issue?

Anders Wijkman

I do not think so. The Norwegians are running a project for the cement industry, and the Swedish cement industry is partnering with that project, but neither of us has visited the installation.

Stefan Nyström

I am going there in December but, unfortunately, I am unable to answer that question just now.

Stewart Stevenson

That is fine. I recognise that it was quite a technical question. My other question is also quite technical. We touched on the electronics sector, where the most recent gas added to the portfolio, nitrogen trifluoride, is a key part of the process of producing microchips, and most of it comes from the electronics industry. Is there any understanding of how we might eliminate nitrogen trifluoride from production in that industry? I make a small caveat because, as the gap between components in silicon-based chips has now reached the limits of what works, we may well be moving to a base material other than silicon, which may result in other issues, but I know so little about it that I will not make much comment on it. Has Sweden done anything about that?

Anders Wijkman

I do not think so, basically because we do not have an industry in that field, so it is not part of our territorial emissions, as we import all that stuff. Your question is very important and it is something for the Americans, the Chinese and the Koreans to address, but it is not something that we have any particular knowledge about. I am sorry.

Stewart Stevenson

That is fine. We should move on.

The Convener

I would like to return to some of the information that you gave in response to my earlier question about the difficult-to-reach sectors. Your graphic mentioned transport, which is obviously a difficult sector, and a lot depends on a change in the behaviour of people—in Sweden and in Scotland—in order for us to reach those goals. What is being done to effect those behavioural changes, particularly with regard to people’s lifestyles?

Stefan Nyström

Going into behavioural issues from a political point of view is extremely tricky. We live in a free world, so politicians are hesitant to go for that, although they can incentivise actions in order to facilitate people doing the right thing. For instance, there is a subsidy of 60,000 Swedish crowns, or approximately £5,000, for buying a new zero-emitting car. That effects a behavioural change through an incentive rather than through information or punishment.

We have the same for fuels. People generally do not have to worry about that, because we have a law demanding—through a market incentive-based system that is difficult to explain—that suppliers of fuels for private vehicles increase the bio element of fuels in the market. It is set to increase from 20 per cent to 30, 40 and 50 per cent over the years to come in order to facilitate a transition. We also have incentive programmes to facilitate the charging of electric vehicles all over the country. They cover both public charging facilities and the provision of cheaper private charging facilities in people’s homes and at their work.

You asked about transport, and there is a sticky issue with international transport, with the most difficult part of all being international aviation. Sweden’s public consumption emissions and territorial emissions, together with the exports, are about 11 tonnes per Swede today. Territorial emissions are around 5 to 6 tonnes, so the total is almost double. A large part of that comes from international aviation, and it is increasing tremendously fast. Just one journey from Stockholm to Thailand, for instance, which is a popular route at Christmas and new year, emits 2 tonnes of CO2 per person.

Anders Wijkman

That is in economy; it is three times more in business class.

09:45  



Stefan Nyström

That is a really tricky issue that we need to tackle together. The authorities in Sweden feel that the answer that the airline companies have come up with—namely the carbon offsetting scheme for international aviation, or CORSIA, which is the international system for reducing increases in emissions from 2027—addresses only between 15 and 20 per cent of overall emissions, because of all the exemptions and loopholes in the system. We are really worried about that and have no real solution to it, other than to suggest deeper international co-operation by all countries.

Anders Wijkman

Behaviour is changing; for example, people are changing to cleaner types of cars, which is a positive move. I would also say that, over the past five to 10 years, an increasing number of cities have been offering much more efficient public transport opportunities. Smart mobility is catching on. I do not think that there is any Swedish city in the lead in that respect—Helsinki and Lyon are the two European cities with the most efficient systems—but the idea is to make using public transport very easy. For example, you can purchase tickets on your mobile phone through an interface with the payment system. I also see a lot of new car-pooling systems in which you can use an app to order a car. You do not need to own a car if you live in the city, because you can use a combination of cycling, public transport and cars on demand. Those sorts of systems, which are developing quite nicely, will help to bring about behaviour change.

The Convener

However, as you said earlier, Sweden, like Scotland, has a massive rural population. The things that you have talked about can be done in cities, but what are you doing to give people in rural areas access to the public transport that will make it easier for them to change their behaviour with regard to car use? Is that a big issue in Sweden?

Stefan Nyström

Yes, it is. There is, for understandable reasons, a very clear divide between people who live in rural areas and people who live in cities, but that is not just a transport issue. It is also about education and, indeed, about jobs, with people moving to the cities and the central parts of countries where the jobs are.

With regard to the ways in which people transport themselves in rural areas, our analysis is that the introduction of electric vehicles will give those areas an advantage. Sweden is vast—it is 2,000km long and 600km at its widest—and it is sparsely populated in, for example, the north-west. If the gas station in an area closes down along with the school and the store, it is just not possible for people to stay there. However, everyone has those two holes in the wall that allow them to charge their electric vehicles, so the infrastructure is already there. In that sense, we believe that the rural areas will be the winners in the transition to electric cars. We will see whether that comes about, but at least it will mean that in, I think, five years, we will not need to have a discussion about whether this or that gas station can be closed or whether it will need to be subsidised by the Government.

Anders Wijkman

You should also bear in mind that 80 per cent of car travel in Sweden takes place in city environments. Although the divide between rural areas and cities is a political issue, it is, from an emissions point of view, a minor problem.

Claudia Beamish (South Scotland) (Lab)

I want to turn to the emissions trading schemes. For the purposes of the Official Report, I point out—I hope that I am correct—that, as you will know, Sweden has put in place targets for reducing non-ETS emissions to 63 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030, to 75 per cent below by 2040 and to 100 per cent below by 2045. Why do those targets differentiate between European Union ETS and non-EU ETS sectors? If possible, can you give us a simple explanation of which sectors are covered under each target? Are any flexibility measures available to help you achieve those targets?

Anders Wijkman

Around 40 to 45 per cent of our emissions are covered by the ETS—that is heavy industry. One of the suggestions made by the task force that Stefan Nyström and I were involved in was to make the ETS much more ambitious than it was at the time that the report was launched. We are not leaving the ETS sector all alone, but we cannot really influence it, apart from being part of the decision-making process in Brussels. We can, by and large, control all the other emissions through policy measures.

The 63 per cent target happens to be a compromise—some people wanted 70 per cent and some people wanted 55 per cent, so we ended up at 63 per cent. It is not easy to explain why it is that particular percentage. We wanted to move towards zero in 2045 and we made the calculation that 63 per cent for 2030 was appropriate. Of that 63 per cent, 70 per cent of the reduction is from the transportation sector, which is major.

Stefan Nyström

There is intricate arithmetic behind that 63 per cent, which we will not go into. The simple explanation is that we rely on the ETS delivering the reductions that it set out to deliver, and we do not want to be double steering, so to speak. We have confidence in the ETS delivering. If the ETS does not deliver, we will need to work via Brussels, or together with like-minded countries, to ensure that it will deliver.

Anders Wijkman

I referred to the Government scheme to incentivise technology change in the steel sector. That is an example of an area where we do not believe that the ETS alone will bring about the necessary technological change. That is because the price has been so low. There need to be complementary measures.

Over the past couple of years, we have seen that the ETS seems to be working better. The price has gone up, so that should be more of an incentive for companies to look for innovation—that was not happening when the price was about €7 or €8 per tonne.

Stefan Nyström

To elaborate a little on that, when it comes to the steel industry, which has always been very important for Sweden—the steel industry accounts for about £6 billion in net exports, which is a fair amount for us as a small country—the ETS is not enough. We need a complementary innovation policy. Even if the price in the ETS sector was high, the pockets of our large steel producers would empty, because it takes such a long time to innovate and put in place new, innovative, zero-emitting steel production methods. When it comes to those large transformational changes, we need the participation of the public together with industry in order to share risk; we need the public to contribute to the finances.

We have a special company that is made up of three companies working together: a steel company, an electricity production company and a mining company—two of those companies are publicly owned and the other is a private company. That approach will probably be needed in other areas, too, although we do not yet know which ones. Then again, competition in the international market is fierce. If change takes more than a quarter of a year and stock markets want a return, countries may need to share risk and contribute to the finances with public funds.

Anders Wijkman

As a policy maker, I find it interesting that when we compare the price at the point of sale of a tonne of conventional steel with a tonne of steel that is CO2 free, the difference is something like 40 to 50 per cent. That is not competitive. However, if you buy a car and the steel in the car is CO2 free, that car will cost £100 or £200 more. The difference at the consumer level is minor. I would hope that we could do something in the economic system so that the differential does not play out in that way.

Stefan Nyström

As Anders Wijkman indicated, preliminary research shows that although net-zero cement and steel are about 50 per cent more expensive—I think that the figures are 60 per cent and 40 per cent—the additional cost of using that cement and steel in rail and house construction is 0.5 per cent. For example, the price of constructing an apartment in central Stockholm would be around £500,000, and the incremental cost of using net-zero cement and steel would be £2,500, which is nothing. We are asking ourselves how we can use public procurement to incentivise our industries to provide us with net-zero cement and steel.

Claudia Beamish

How would public procurement help in those sectors?

Stefan Nyström

One of the largest buyers of cement in Sweden is the authority that is responsible for building new highways, bridges and railroads—that agency’s demand for cement and steel is very high. If demand for zero-CO2 cement was introduced, either gradually, directly or in close co-operation with companies, that is an equation that could work out. It would incentivise a large company that has about 96 per cent of the Swedish market.

Anders Wijkman

Fifty per cent of new apartment buildings are built by municipalities. One of our proposals was that we should build high-rise buildings out of wood. We have a lot of wood in Sweden, and houses that are built from wood are cheaper and quicker to erect. I would also say that they are more beautiful—I do not like concrete buildings very much.

There are many opportunities in public procurement. The EU’s public procurement legislation allows for such demands to be made. The critical issue is competence among public procurement officials. They have to be aware not only of the legislation and the legal aspects but of technology, carbon emissions and a lot of other issues. It is crucial that their competence is enhanced or brought up to speed.

Stewart Stevenson

The subject has come up of the competitiveness of steel production companies if they start to eliminate greenhouse gases from the process. To what extent has Sweden considered the potential advantage of being an early adopter of new methods of producing steel? That would apply to other industries, too. Whatever shortcomings there may be in the Paris agreement, it creates an international market in the longer term for new methods of production. The early developers, adopters and owners of intellectual property associated with that have a huge commercial opportunity if they choose to take it. Arguably, on the other hand, it may be one of those cases in which, because of the huge start-up costs, those who are first to be second have the advantage. Is that part of the discussion in Sweden?

10:00  



Anders Wijkman

Definitely. That is one of the arguments that a small country must give priority to. Our share of global emissions is very small, but we can make a difference by demonstrating good solutions. That would also allow us to benefit from future trade.

Sweden produces about 5 million tonnes of steel a year. It is mostly special steel. The world produces 1.6 billion tonnes of steel a year, half of which is produced in China. We have a long way to go until all the old steel-producing facilities are closed down and replaced by modern technology, but we have to start somewhere. The Swedish hydrogen project—there are similar projects in Austria and Germany—is very promising. We hope that that will benefit us in the future.

Stefan Nyström

I will add to what Anders Wijkman has said. After the oil crisis, the shipyard crisis followed in the late 1970s. At the time, we were a large ship producer and we produced lots of steel for the ship industry—neither China nor India were as large a producer as we were. There was an enormous cost crisis in the Swedish steel industry and we had to close down lots of facilities. The ones that are still in the market asked themselves at that time what they could do to continue to be in the market in 10, 20 or 30 years’ time. They moved to producing only special, hard steel and specialised products. They produced light steel for the car industry and the mobile industry, which includes Anders Wijkman’s iPhone. They managed to stay in the market, and they are not as sensitive to price issues.

We see that others are following the Swedish example—we are no longer alone in that segment of the market. Innovation is a natural step in taking the steel industry further.

We cannot be sure that the first to innovate will be the winner. We do not know how the Porter hypothesis works in reality—it works differently in different sectors—but we know that innovation is the key to our continued wellbeing and economic prosperity in Sweden. Nobody doubts that any longer, which is why we are going into the hydrogen project.

John Scott

In developing the theme of innovation, you mentioned the hydrogen projects in Sweden and Germany. On the development of fuel sources for trains—that is, electric versus hydrogen—I understand that Alstom has introduced hydrogen trains. Is that the future? How do you see hydrogen versus electric developing as a fuel source for large vehicles, or even cars?

Anders Wijkman

The Japanese would be the best people to ask about that, because they place a huge emphasis on hydrogen in parts of their industry. They believe that hydrogen will be as good an alternative as electricity is for private vehicles and for dealing with heavy traffic.

On trains, we will rely on the electric grid. We get 60 to 70 terawatt hours a year from hydrogen and, as Stefan Nyström said, energy increasingly comes from wind, so I do not see any reason why we should go for hydrogen there. However, heavy traffic is a bit special; it is still an open question.

Stefan Nyström

It is very open. I will elaborate a little bit on the issue. The industry, and especially Vattenfall, which is our largest energy producer by far, has started to discuss power to X instead of only power to gas.

We see that hydrogen is the future, because there are so many possible ways to use it. It can be used in trains. In the northern inland parts of Sweden, some trains cannot be electrified because there are no facilities there, and it would be much too expensive to construct them, so hydrogen could be an alternative to continuing running trains on diesel up there. That is not a very big part of emissions, but it could be done.

Hydrogen can also be used for cars and heavy vehicles, and we can produce methanol for shipping using hydrogen. There are also possibilities to use bio CO2 emissions that come from the forestry industry. There is already a project between the forestry industry and Vattenfall to produce methanol for shipping on the Swedish west coast, and we will see how that works out.

We are going into a situation with more weather-dependent electricity production. Windmills are now becoming around 250m high, so they tend to produce much more electricity than they did previously, because there is always some kind of wind up there, but we are still getting into a situation with more weather-dependent electricity. If we produce hydrogen as a back-up gas for power stations, that could be used to balance the power supply when there is no wind and the sun is not shining.

There is an increasing discussion on power to X in Sweden, but not too much of it has materialised yet.

Finlay Carson (Galloway and West Dumfries) (Con)

I want to briefly take us back to targets. It is a simple question. Why was a domestic effort target considered necessary alongside an overall target?

Anders Wijkman

Do you mean the overall target in Europe?

Finlay Carson

I mean in Sweden.

Stefan Nyström

So you mean the division between the ETS sector and the rest of the economy.

Finlay Carson

Yes. Why did you include a domestic target?

Anders Wijkman

The ETS covers 45 per cent of emissions, but we have to deal with the rest in Sweden. We need policies and a combination of regulation and incentives, because we believe that emissions would not come down otherwise. We need to address the ETS sector and the non-ETS sector. That is a given. Every country in the world has to do that.

Stefan Nyström

There is no escape there.

Richard Lyle (Uddingston and Bellshill) (SNP)

Your targets are of course for the future, so let us look to the future. Do you expect Sweden to use international carbon trading or other measures to achieve its net zero 2045 target? What are the consequences of not meeting the net zero 2045 target or of using carbon trading to meet the targets?

Stefan Nyström

There has been intense discussion between the various blocs in Swedish policy making on international trading and offset mechanisms. Before the agreement that we now have on the 2045 goals, the reds and greens were not in favour of using credits, whereas the blue parties more or less wanted to use credits a bit more. We now have a very clear-cut distinction, which is that only 15 per cent of the reductions by 2045 can be achieved through credits. However, it is not necessarily the case that credits will be used to achieve that 15 per cent, as it could also be done through land use change, such as a large increase in forests. It depends on what is decided through the mechanisms of the Paris agreement, as the Kyoto protocol definitions of what is accepted as a credit will run out in a couple of years. We will see what happens.

I think that you asked what the consequences will be if we do not reach the target.

Richard Lyle

Yes. What will really happen? At the end of the day, we are all setting targets. In 20-odd years’ time, I will be about 93. It is great for politicians to set targets that they will not have to meet because they will possibly not be here. Is it a cop-out—I am sorry to use that word—to say that, if we do not meet the target, we will just buy credits and offset it? Does that debase your belief in what you will be able to do?

Stefan Nyström

The year 2045 is a long time from now.

Richard Lyle

Exactly.

Stefan Nyström

That is as far as Anders Wijkman and I went during the investigation that we led. What is currently happening is that the Government with the Opposition—everybody wants this—has launched an investigation into the 15 per cent and how we can best create a road map for how to use the credits. A certain amount can be used for reaching the target in 2030, as well, and we have to elaborate on that.

We did not count further than that in our investigation. That is now being done in another investigation, and we will see what people come up with.

Anders Wijkman

We know very little about the next 20 to 25 years, so we have to maintain flexibility. Five years from now, we might have breakthroughs in certain technology areas that will make the picture and the challenge look very different.

Offsetting can play a very important role. I know, as I have been involved in discussions about this, that the German Government is going to launch a major initiative in Katowice in which it will try to incentivise offsetting in many developing countries and help civil society organisations and Governments to restore degraded lands and grow forests, for example—to literally build carbon in the soil. The potential to do that is enormous. We do not talk much about that potential, because we have been so focused on the energy system, but there are hundreds of millions of hectares of degraded land that could be brought into fertility again and could store carbon. Offsetting is therefore an interesting area.

Richard Lyle

I remember the 1970s oil crisis. I was in Holland at the time.

It would be wrong of me not to ask the question that I am about to ask, although some people might think that I should not do so. You spoke about recycling. Does your deposit return scheme contribute to meeting your carbon targets?

Anders Wijkman

We have a chapter in the climate strategy, which we submitted, that focuses on basic materials. There is a combination of innovation, substitution, recycling and reuse and, of those, recycling is the least positive alternative. The reuse of components is, of course, the main target.

The problem is that most products are now designed in a way that means that recycling and reuse are very difficult. I chaired the Swedish Recycling Industries Association for six years. One of the main problems was that things were put on the market upstream that were very difficult to do much about downstream. When ministers went to Brussels and enhanced recycling rates, I often said that that was meaningless as long as the design issue was not addressed as well. Normally, there should be a principle that, when products are put on the market, it should be relatively easy to reuse and recycle their components.

We need a revolution. I was party to a recent study by a company called Material Economics, which we can share with the committee. Its estimate for the European Union was that, by adopting a circular economy approach, we could cut away roughly 70 per cent of the emissions relating to basic materials and infrastructure leading up to 2050 compared with a business-as-usual case. That is a huge amount, but that is not happening as long as the European Commission is not implementing the right measures. Unfortunately, Mr Juncker is not the right man for the job, because he is blocking the effective use of the ecodesign directive. I could elaborate on that.

10:15  



Richard Lyle

Thank you very much.

Anders Wijkman

Do you know why? In the Brexit campaign, Nigel Farage was travelling round Britain with a toaster in his hand, saying, “These bureaucrats in Brussels even have views on how we should design our toasters—such rubbish!” That argument was obviously quite effective. When Juncker heard that, he said, “Okay, let’s focus on the big things, not the small things.” What he obviously does not understand is that, if 500 million Europeans use a toaster that demands less electricity, that is a big thing, not a small thing, so the ecodesign directive is very important and we should broaden it to take into account design and materials.

Sorry for being so political.

Mark Ruskell

No, let us have more of it, please. You have one of the world’s most ambitious climate targets—net zero by 2045. There is some uncertainty, as we sit here in 2018, about exactly how you get there, and about the types of technological change that will be needed. How have you dealt with that question? It is a big question here as we look at our own climate targets and ask whether we have a precise thought-out pathway to whatever target we put into our bill or whether, to a certain extent, we can take a leap of faith and try to lean into the technology that might be coming and develop it over time. How has that debate played out in Sweden?

Anders Wijkman

The first necessary step is to set the targets, then the devil will be in the implementation. We have seen over the past couple of years, both at national level and at city or municipality level, quite a lot of initiatives to get closer to the targets: so far, so good. Emissions are still increasing—they went up last year—but they should start to go down as many measures have been implemented. However, we have to do much more. Having seen the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report the other week, I think that we should increase our ambition.

Stefan Nyström

It is a good question. In the graphic that I am showing you, the yellow curve represents actual emissions, which do not perform as nicely as the projections do. They go up and down and we have no idea where they will go next year, for obvious reasons. The graphic shows that so far we have managed a reduction of 2 per cent per year, until 2017, but last year we had a cold and rough winter, so emissions went up. Industry is also running at a high percentage of its capacity, which is another explanation. We can see that we need to come down by between 5 and 8 per cent until 2045—by 8 per cent a year if we want to reach zero emissions and use none of the extra flexibility that is allowed, or otherwise by 5 per cent a year.

If we do not make calculations, we cannot make progress. We need to set targets, then evaluate, then maybe put in more measures if we do not reach the targets. When we set the targets, we saw that the technology was around the corner, or was perhaps already there, even if it was not yet on the market. You need to be a little bit bold and to stretch things a little bit, but not by too much. We can see that a reduction of between 5 and 8 per cent by 2045 is within reach. It will not come easily, and we will need to take more measures and supply more incentives to get there, and we will need to discuss how to create low-carbon alternatives to fossil fuels for the transport sector after 2030. Should we put a very high tax on them in order for them not to return when electricity has become the main fuel, or should we simply forbid their being on the market? We do not know.

We know very little about the future, but we can set the targets, evaluate and use more measures as evaluations come to hand. That is how we do it.

Anders Wijkman

I will make two additional comments. First, I do not think that any European country has cut its emissions by more than 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent from one year to the next, historically. Therefore, regardless of whether we are talking about 5 or 8 per cent a year, there is a huge difference. I stress that we are talking for many sectors about transformational change being needed in order for them to do things differently.

Secondly, we will, of course, face stranded assets along the road, and we have to put in place policies—not only in Sweden but also in central Europe—to help the regions that are very stuck in the coal-based economy to transform. I do not think that we have discussed that enough yet at European or national levels. That discussion has to come.

Mark Ruskell

I read about Sweden’s 15 sector action plans, and we have heard a bit about cement and steel this morning. How focused on the gaps are those sector action plans? We have heard about the transformation in renewable heating, which is obviously an easier target for you, given the progress that you have made with renewable electricity. However, in terms of the harder-to-reach gaps, is innovation coming from the sector action plans that gives you and the public confidence that the gaps can be closed, or are there still many unanswered questions?

Anders Wijkman

One of my tasks is to chair the European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s climate knowledge and innovation community—EIT Climate-KIC—which is one of the instruments that was set up by the European Commission some years ago. After seven or eight years of experience, we have come to the conclusion that to bring about transformation, we need what we call systems design, not vertical or silo-based design. We are no longer interested primarily in specific technologies; we look at the system and try to understand what is required in that system to make change really happen. Of course, there are areas where a particular technology can make a significant change, but with regard to transportation, infrastructure, farming and so on, you need to look at a number of components in order to make change happen. We need to be much more ambitious in that regard and to put in place public funding and support for that.

Stefan Nyström

I shared a couple of the action plans with the committee. If you do not have access to them all, I would be happy to share them with you.

Mark Ruskell asked whether the action plans are focused on the gap. I would say that they are not necessarily so. People have shown initiative in coming up with action plans for their own sectors and trying to see how fast they can translate from today’s emissions to a situation in which they are fossil-fuel free. As it happens, the fossil-fuel free co-ordinator who was appointed by the Swedish Government has worked with the sectors that need to be focused on if we are to close the gap. For example, members can see that the list of sectors contains the mining and minerals industry. The aim is to make mining operations, which are large emitters, fossil-fuel free by 2035. There are machines down the mines that emit lots of CO2 that are often forgotten about in the discussion. Those are about to become electrified—work on that will happen from next year. I think that the sector will reach its goal much sooner than 2035.

The steel industry accounts for 10 per cent of Swedish emissions. The aviation industry is obviously also a sticky issue, to use the phrase that was used before. There are a lot of other sectors on which there is focus and where Sweden needs to take action to close the gap.

The answer to Mark Ruskell’s question is yes and no. It is no because the plans focus on their own sectors, but it is yes because those sectors happen to be the ones that were chosen by the co-ordinator who was appointed by the Government, who has been in close contact with us as they have carried out the analytical work for the Government.

The Convener

The Swedish Government’s strategy of not including certain sectors when it is producing its targets and measuring its achievements in relation to those targets appears to be quite different from the approach of the Scottish Government, which sets a target that does not exclude any sector. Can you see a situation in which Sweden would adopt that bolder approach? Would that be politically possible, and might it be necessary?

Stefan Nyström

Could you repeat the question? I did not quite understand what you said.

The Convener

At the moment, when your Government sets its targets, it does not include emissions from aviation and certain land-use emissions, for example. The Scottish Government’s approach is different, in that it does not exclude any sectors. Can you envisage there being a political change in Sweden that would mean that those sectors were not excluded and 100 per cent of sectors were covered?

Anders Wijkman

The two sectors that are not included are aviation and shipping, but we will have to include them sooner or later. They were seen as being in the domain of the international agreement. I agree that we need to tackle the emissions from those sectors. We must undertake initiatives: if every country waited for the others to join it, nothing would happen. Some countries need to stick their necks out and be a bit more ambitious. I very much applaud the Scottish approach. We have not yet come that far, but I think that we will get there.

Stewart Stevenson

A slide that has disappeared from the screen said that aviation aims to make domestic flights emissions free by 2030, and international flights that originate in Sweden emissions free by 2045. I read those as being the industry’s aims. What status do those aims have? How will the industry sanction itself if it does not meet them? Do those aims mean much, if they are not part of the legislative framework?

Stefan Nyström

All aviation within Europe falls within the ETS, so the domestic part of our flying system is within that system, but international flights are outside it. All sectors are covered by the Swedish goals, except the two that have been mentioned. The haulage industry, the retail sector, the steel sector and the mining and minerals sector are covered by the 85 per cent target, so the status of their goals is that they are more or less a statement on their behalf to their owners, their consumers and society in general, but they are not connected in any particular way to the goals that the Government has set out. When it comes to what the Government can do, my answer is that, more than anything, it can incentivise.

We do not count CO2 uptake by our forests. In Sweden, we emit about 55 million tonnes of CO2 each year, and the net uptake by our forests is about 45 million to 50 million tonnes. We do not count that at all, but we could do. I was not sure from reading the committee’s papers what Scotland does with such information. We might begin to count the uptake by our forests in the future, but at the moment we look on it as a free service to the world, so to speak.

Claudia Beamish

I want to develop an issue that we have already touched on. In his article in The Scotsman, Stefan Nyström indicated that the setting of a net zero target had been a strong driver for business and local government. You will probably know that in Scotland there are mandatory duties not just on local government but on all public bodies. It is expected that those duties will be met, although there are support methods. What support—beyond the support that we have already discussed—is provided by central Government in Sweden for the public sector and business to achieve climate change targets?

Anders Wijkman

We alluded to the steel sector, for which the Government puts in some €30 million or €40 million a year to the hydrogen project. There are many similar examples. There are also particular incentives in the transportation sector—as Stefan Nyström mentioned—to incentivise consumers to do certain things and to oblige the petroleum providers to increase gradually the mix of synthetic fuels in conventional fuels and so on. There is a wide array of measures. We cannot give an exhaustive list here and now, but we could send that list to the committee.

10:30  



Claudia Beamish

That would be very helpful. The public sector is also very important. There are local government arrangements as well as the police and the health service. Is the Swedish Government able to support such bodies to effect change?

Anders Wijkman

There is a provision in the law that each and every Government sector—each ministry—has to take account of climate law in all that it does. Climate mitigation and adaptation concerns have to be taken into account in all policy making. That is one of the strongest parts of the legislation and has led to much more integration than was previously the case.

As I said, at municipality level, we have many examples of rather ambitious policies that engage the private sector and various parts of municipality services and so on. There is a sense of competition—not just domestically, but internationally. We have the C40 cities and the ICLEI, which is now called Local Governments for Sustainability, so there are many organisations at city level that co-operate and share experiences and so on. That does not need much input at national level.

Stefan Nyström

As Anders Wijkman has said, there are a lot of support programmes and we cannot go into them all—you probably would not want us to—but we can send a document over for the committee to read and ask questions about later.

Three Swedish cities have introduced their own climate change committees. Things are developing at a very fast pace.

One of the big challenges is that we traditionally work in silos—that is the case in all countries—both within Government and in policies. One example of the challenge that that presents is our statutory investment programme, which is financed by the Government—[Interruption.] There seems to be some background sound—a scraping sound—where you are, which is making it difficult to hear.

The Convener

I do not think that the sound is coming from here. Please just carry on.

Stefan Nyström

The scraping sound has stopped now.

The investment programme was launched last year. It is a 10-year programme for Swedish investment in new roads, railroads, surveillance and maintenance. The programme comprises, in Swedish crowns, some SEK690 billion, which is about £75 billion—a lot of money. However, so far, the authorities that are responsible for deciding exactly where to put the money have not even considered climate issues.

That shows that Sweden has a way to go, too. We have to find a way for co-operation between the silos. We are not there yet. As Anders Wijkman said, there is an important provision in the law on co-operating to consider climate concerns, but that is, largely, yet to materialise.

Alex Rowley (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab)

My experience is that many more people are now aware of climate change but there is sometimes a tendency for people to see it as someone else’s problem to solve. What is your experience of engaging the wider public in the discussion and debate so that people can see that we all have a responsibility?

To return to the question of setting a net zero target, there is a debate in Scotland about whether that is achievable and the right thing to do. What do you see as the main advantage of setting a net zero target, given that the technology that we might need to achieve it has not yet been invented?

Anders Wijkman

On your first question, there are of course groups in Sweden and in other countries who are either climate deniers—we have those people—or very sceptical about a small country such as Sweden taking on such an ambitious goal. If I may try to categorise those people, most of them live in rural areas and they have a tendency nowadays to vote for the ultra right party that has emerged in the past 10 or 15 years. We have to convince them or show them that, if we do the transformation in an intelligent way, they should not become losers and that, rather, the opposite is the case, because we would do a lot of things in the context of a bio-based economy that would probably be beneficial to them. It is important to establish a dialogue with people and not to look on anyone as a hopeless case. Rather, we should engage everybody because, otherwise, we will not succeed.

That is the only way to address the issue, which I would say is an existential one. If you read carefully the IPCC report that came out on 8 October—not only the summary for policy makers, but some of the other chapters—you will see that between 1.5° and 2°, there are very serious tipping points that may turn life as we know it into something very difficult and challenging only a few decades from now. Therefore, we need to have very ambitious goals. So far, we have evidence that, when we do that, we can achieve it. I am not saying that it will be easy, but it is possible and in most areas we have the technologies.

We then need to add in behavioural change. It is not a God-given right to travel to Thailand every Christmas on vacation. People could start to reconsider some of their habits, and I think that that is needed.

Stefan Nyström

This is one of the most important issues because, if the general public are not aware and do not support the approach, it will be difficult for politicians to put in place measures to achieve the goals. There is a very strong consciousness of the issue since last summer, as I wrote in the article that was mentioned earlier. After that, discussions became very intense. We have never had such a hot summer—it was extraordinary, and harvests were halved. In spite of that, we had a very cold winter, with lots of rain and floods. At the same time in Sweden, we had flooding in five or 10 places and a severe drought. That served no one. Everybody understood that, if this is the beginning, we really need to put in place a strategy.

You asked about the advantage of having a net zero target. I would say that a net zero target or a fossil-free target is much easier to communicate to anyone than a target of 86 per cent, 93 per cent or whatever percentage, because what is that a percentage of? A net zero target is something to stand behind. It is like the Apollo project to launch a man to the moon—it is something that is needed in this period of transition.

A philosophy that is discussed in some leading newspapers in Sweden today is Kant’s moral imperative, which is that we need to do the right things because they are the right things to do.

The Convener

We have one final question.

Anders Wijkman

I had calculated that we would end at 11.30, or 10.30 your time, so I will have to start to fade out of the discussion, but please ask a final question.

Richard Lyle

I believe that we all wish to be green to secure the future. I turn to the costs of implementation on society. In Scotland, a figure of £13 billion has been given for the cost of implementing our proposed target, but there are several unknown factors in the methodology and analysis. What analysis has been done of the costs and benefits of Sweden’s net zero target? How robust do you believe that it is?

Anders Wijkman

The economic models that we have are not very good at calculating that, especially over the long term. That was one of the findings of the strategic work. Most of the economic modelling looks at the costs rather than the benefits. The models do not really have the capacity to anticipate the innovation that will probably take place as a consequence of the measures that have been taken. New companies will be started and new jobs will come into force.

My general answer is that we must take all such calculations with a pinch of salt. Of course implementation will cost money, but the benefits will be colossal. The health-related benefits that we will see in most countries as a result of less air pollution will be hugely beneficial to society.

Stefan Nyström

I am with Anders Wijkman. As an economist who has done a lot of modelling, I know that it is difficult to properly include innovation in models, which means that they always overestimate the cost and the difficulty. Given that the whole scheme of becoming fossil free or climate neutral by 2045 depends on innovation, which we cannot include in the models, it is extremely difficult to calculate any numbers for it.

However, we can see what the benefits of no-regrets policies such as electrification are when 1,100 people die 12 years before they should because of air pollution. We will have cleaner, less noisy cities. When we have electric cars instead of fossil-fuelled cars, we will be able to construct buildings in areas where there is too much noise at the moment, which will make it possible to brighten up the cities. Land is very scarce in such central areas. There are many no-regrets policies that we can identify.

Big emitters such as the cement industry think that they will have a competitive advantage in the future if we can find proper ways of sharing the risk and the finance with the public. That is what triggered the possibility of setting the goals. Everybody understood that it is not really possible to calculate the costs of taking measures or, for that matter, the costs of inaction, and that we must evaluate those costs in relation to reality as it develops.

Anders Wijkman

I will add two points. First, nobody knows the extent of stranded assets out there. The financial sector has only recently started to be aware that some of the things that it has invested in might lose value because of technological change.

Secondly, we did not have time to delve into the area of exponential technology. One of the most fascinating opportunities lies in trying to align climate policy with some of the exponential technologies that are emerging. I am thinking, in particular, of digital technologies and artificial intelligence. Most of those technologies are not really aimed at addressing climate mitigation goals—they have other objectives—but if we could align the two sets of goals, we would have some opportunities that are not available at the moment. As we have indicated, there is so much that is unknown, which we must explore.

Richard Lyle

Thank you very much.

The Convener

I thank Stefan Nyström and Anders Wijkman very much for their time. We have kept them a lot longer than we thought we would. Their evidence has been extremely interesting and they have answered our questions fully. I thank them for staying on, as their evidence will be tremendously useful to us.

At our next meeting on 6 November, the committee will continue its consideration of the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill by looking at the behaviour changes and governance structures that will be required to achieve more challenging climate change targets.

The committee will now move into private session, and I request that the public gallery be vacated.

10:46 Meeting continued in private until 12:01.  



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Third meeting transcript

The Convener

Under item 3, the committee will take evidence on the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill. This is the third of the committee’s evidence sessions with stakeholders. We will hear from two panels today, one on behaviour change and one on governance.

I am delighted to welcome our first panel, who will look at the behaviour change that is required to achieve the targets that are set out in the bill. Joining us are Shane Donnellan, senior behaviour change specialist at Changeworks; Dr Rachel Howell, lecturer in sustainable development at University of Edinburgh’s school of social and political science; Mary Sweetland, chair of Eco-Congregation Scotland; and Jamie Stewart, policy officer with Citizens Advice Scotland.

We move straight to questions, and the first is from John Scott.

John Scott (Ayr) (Con)

Good morning and welcome. My question is for all panel members. How well has the Scottish Government’s approach to encouraging low-carbon behaviour change, including through the climate change plan, worked so far? Are there examples or success stories from other policy areas that it would be worth telling the committee about or which could be adopted?

The Convener

Panel members should indicate to me when they want to speak.

Shane Donnellan (Changeworks)

Whether the approach has worked so far brings us back to the question of how much behaviour has been included in the policy in the first place. There was some criticism that behaviour might not have been front and centre in the climate change plan and that its inclusion was something of an add-on. When it is not the driving force behind some of the policy, it can be difficult to say exactly how much it has or has not worked.

There have been really good examples of behaviour being front and centre with some intermediaries. There has been work with Scottish Water, for example, and I know that the Energy Saving Trust has had a pilot to try to change behaviour. There have been some learning and successes with regard to reducing energy use and making people more aware of the issue, but in the greater scheme of things, probably not enough work has been done in that respect.

Mary Sweetland (Eco-Congregation Scotland)

For the past eight or nine years, Eco-Congregation Scotland has been working on the issue, supporting congregations in bringing about change and encouraging them to look after God’s earth. With the different congregations that are part of our work, we have had a lot of success with recycling and looking at energy use in churches, for example. The European Christian Environmental Network gave us an award for a project in mid-Argyll that looked at which energy sources other than oil the churches in the area could use to heat the buildings.

That said, although the agenda with regard to the different behaviours that need to be taken forward is well known, things are always being done in a different way, and there is something of a spin-off effect. For example, the other week, I heard about what is happening in Orkney. They have no gas there, but instead of people being pushed towards installing renewable energy measures such as air-source heat pumps or redoing their home in ways that would reduce carbon use, they were installing oil boilers. All the energy in Orkney comes from renewables but the fact is that, even if they use that kind of electricity in their homes, they still cannot get their energy efficiency certification above band C, because electricity is very heavily weighted in the calculations.

I live in a Passivhaus, and I can achieve band A; however, the Passivhaus certification still requires you to say whether you have a boiler and whether it is gas or whatever. I do not have any of that. It is great when people phone you, trying to sell gas, and you can tell them, “I don’t have a boiler.” The issue is the way in which the commercial side has adapted these things and tried to turn them into a box that they can just tick and say, “We’ve achieved that,” without actually achieving the move to zero carbon.

Jamie Stewart (Citizens Advice Scotland)

There have been some really successful trials of energy-saving behaviours, and the Scottish Government has quite a good platform for looking at how those trials work and what the barriers might be for householders. However, there is no across-the-board recognition in Scottish households that this is the kind of behaviour that is needed. It is not high up their agenda.

As recent surveys have shown, there is growing recognition and awareness of the need to take action on climate change now. When we did a survey of a representative sample of people in 2017, although 73 per cent said that action needed to be taken now, they still perceived recycling and waste reduction as being the best things that they could do to save energy. There have been small pockets of success where households have been very much targeted, have received advice on how to save energy and have been given free measures. However, they are only pockets, and we need to look at how we can expand such approaches to ensure that there is effective action across the nation.

Dr Rachel Howell (University of Edinburgh)

Recycling and the plastic bag tax are two really good examples of policy having changed behaviour. It is interesting to think about why those policies have worked. With recycling, it is all about making it easy. We have easy kerbside recycling—people no longer have to get into a car and take things to a big bank in a supermarket car park. Because it is easy and noticeable—people put out a box or whatever in front of their house—it has changed social norms. Unfortunately, there has been a slightly negative effect, in that people feel that they are doing their bit and recycling is seen as a big part of what is required. Recycling is important, but it is a relatively small behaviour change in climate change terms.

The plastic bag tax has also changed norms. It has worked because it is such an easy behaviour to change. Putting a price on something that was previously free is, again, extremely noticeable. It was a simple change, and there is not really anything to be annoyed about.

I turn to some of the other bigger areas for change, such as transport, where emissions have not decreased since we started this approach. Transport is still a big problem. However, I was interested to discover from an excellent master’s dissertation that was submitted this summer that Edinburgh has a well-kept secret—the city has the largest proportion of public transport users and the lowest proportion of private car drivers in the United Kingdom outside London. Why is that? It is due not so much to a lot of integrated policy making but to a whole lot of structural factors—and it does come down to structures. It is about Edinburgh having an excellent bus service that is run by a local authority and is noticeably cheaper than most other bus services. It is also about density of living: it is difficult to own two cars—in some places, it is difficult to own one car—because there are no places to put them. Edinburgh is a very walkable city, too.

I am sure that we will come on to this, but we need to look more at how structures change behaviour, rather than just looking at the public engagement policies that are often part of the behaviour change agenda.

John Scott

I have often thought that the situation in Edinburgh may be something to do with its size. It is big enough to be a city but it also has an intimacy and a town feel about it. There may be an optimum size of towns and cities in future.

Dr Howell

Possibly. A lot of the cities that have high rates of active travel and public transport, such as Oxford, Cambridge and York, are relatively small, too. However, London is the prime example—there is no bigger city in the UK, yet it has the lowest rates of car ownership. I think that such rates can be achieved in different ways in most sizes of city. It might be as much to do with density of living as the size of a city.

John Scott

How fascinating. That leads me nicely to my next question. Can the panel provide examples of international best practice in achieving low-carbon behaviour change? What can Scotland learn from those, whether as a desktop exercise or in other ways?

Dr Howell

Again, I draw on examples of cities in which, in the Netherlands in particular, cycling is completely the norm. That is all about infrastructure, but how much is to do with deliberate policy or how those cities have developed? Indeed, the Netherlands is flat, so how much is to do with geography? It is not impossible to overcome things. Cycling is just one example of a low-carbon transport behaviour. We must look at places where the structures have made a big difference to behaviour.

In my 10 years of looking at the issues, I have done a lot of research on the behaviour change agenda in terms of persuasion, values and all the things that are the individual factors in the individual, social, material—ISM—model. I have come to the conclusion that, although the individual factors need to be right so that they do not inhibit change, the structural factors—the “S” and the “M” factors in the ISM model that the Government uses—do the most to promote positive change, and my whole research agenda is changing more towards looking at structural factors because of that. I have given up on the hope that we will make the huge strides that we need to make by focusing mostly on the individual factors, persuasion and the small nudges that encourage people to make choices to change their behaviour.

09:30  



Jamie Stewart

I echo what Rachel Howell said. Let us take the example of the take-up of electric vehicles in Norway. There is a tax incentive that encourages people to buy electric vehicles, but there is also the infrastructure—there is a good charging network. The approach might not be replicable in Scotland but, as a result, more electric vehicles are sold in Norway than diesel or petrol cars. Buying an electric car has almost become the social norm, but it is a result of having the structural support in place.

The Convener

I presume that it is important that that support is consistent. In London, people were incentivised to have an electric vehicle because it was very cheap to charge such vehicles, but then the contract changed. Now, there is a new provider and it is more expensive. Do you agree that consistency is important?

Jamie Stewart

Yes, consistency is important when it comes to things such as tax incentives. In the UK, the grants for low-carbon vehicles, electric vehicles and ultra-low-emission vehicles have reduced slightly. Although a grant cannot be guaranteed for ever, it is important for there to be some consistency so that households and consumers have confidence in the system.

The Convener

We have some other questions on the same theme.

Mark Ruskell (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Green)

It is interesting that you are talking about system change to tackle climate change; it is difficult to unpack the different elements.

On pricing and financing, how effective would a measure such as free public transport within cities be? Are there complexities to do with making things free that could lead to consumption increasing? Are there good approaches involving a system that works from the point of view of decarbonising transport and providing effective service that is competitive with use of the private car?

Shane Donnellan

You have hit on an extremely important issue. Price, finance and costs are hugely important to people. People tend to think, “How will this affect me? How will it affect my pocket or my family’s income?” That is the single biggest factor in many situations, whether we are talking about transport, the retrofitting of houses or upgrading the efficiency of properties.

It is admirable when people express a wish to cut down on the number of domestic flights that they take, but when a flight to London costs a third of the price of going by train, it is difficult to expect people to make that change. They can have the best will in the world, but such a simple action can deprive them of a lot of money.

There is no straightforward formula for what an incentive should be. If there was free transport, as you suggested, people could abuse that or take it for granted. That could be one side effect. Consumer research needs to be carried out into any proposed incentivisation measure. Unfortunately, cost or the financial value that people attribute to what they will get is one of the biggest motivators.

Jamie Stewart

Finance is a key factor. If, say, public transport in Edinburgh was free, I think that the use of it would increase. However, there are other factors that might almost be more important. How often the buses run and whether they go to the right places—I am thinking of places such as general practitioner surgeries, hospitals and schools—are important considerations. How useful the service is is an important factor, especially in rural areas, where there is a lack of bus services.

Dr Howell

With public transport, it is necessary to consider not only whether making it free or much cheaper would work but what alternatives people might choose. There is the alternative of the private car, for example. We need to work on both sides of the equation. Encouraging people on to buses is not just about price and ease of use, although ease of use as well as price is very important. It has also got to be made more expensive and less attractive to use a car.

To avoid the potential drawbacks of incentives, it is important that the policy is consistent. If people are hooked into behaviours using the financial motive, other motives can be crowded out. If the financial motive is no longer there, people’s reactions can change. For example, at the University of Edinburgh, 50p is taken off the price of a coffee if the customer uses what is called a keep cup. I worry that, if people have become hooked into the idea that they ought to get money off if they use a keep cup and also use coffee houses near the university that do not offer that incentive, they will ask themselves why should they have the inconvenience of carrying and cleaning out the cup. If there is to be a financial incentive, it has to be consistent and able to be kept up for a while.

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP)

We are talking about individual behaviour and I want to make it very personal. I live in a remote rural area. We burn 4,000 litres of oil per year. It was 6,000 before the Government put 400mm of insulation in our loft. That cut 2,000 litres off the total, which was great.

The boiler is quite old. If we replaced it with a new oil boiler, it would cut our consumption by about 25 per cent or 1,000 litres. That represents about £600 per year at the moment. The new boiler would cost £2,000, so we would make our money back in about three years.

We would like to go for an air-source heat pump, which is £15,000 to £20,000. That would mean a 10-year payback period. However, the service engineer for the oil boiler is a 15-minute drive away, whereas the service engineer for the air-source heat pump is a two-and-a-half-hour drive away. Why would I not continue to burn oil?

Mary Sweetland

The answer is because you are committed to reducing your carbon footprint, rather than focused on the funding.

What you describe is an issue. There was a big gear-up in Scotland of companies that would support air-source heat pumps when there were incentives. The demand did not develop because of the costs, and therefore the manufacturers of the pumps have gone out of business. Farmers in particular have great difficulty in getting engineers to come. My cousin has an air-source heat pump. It broke down because it had been installed poorly. It is about making sure that the industry is prepared and ready to go, and that the industry is supported. The price for air-source heat pumps has dropped.

Stewart Stevenson

It is worth saying that my wife has the money. It is the engineer that is the reason she is not doing it. She knows from neighbours of similar experiences to your cousin’s.

Mary Sweetland

The experience of putting in plug points for electric cars in Orkney is the same. Someone had to be sent from Cheltenham—now Stirling—to install them. Someone had to drive all that way in a diesel van. The point is to incentivise the shift so that people really want to do it.

Stewart Stevenson

Forgive me, but we understand the problem and have all defined it; what we are trying to explore here is what the Government can do to move my wife and others to that different position. How do we do that?

Shane Donnellan

As has been mentioned already, there is a need for both a bottom-up and a top-down approach—regulation along with some of the softer stuff such as public engagement. Right now, what is missing in Mr Stevenson’s situation is not the motivation; the problem is that the cost benefits are not weighing up.

One of the things that is missing is the feeling of responsibility. In a sense, it should not just be up to Mr Stevenson. Everyone in Scotland has a responsibility. Some policies say that lifestyle changes will affect everyone in Scotland over the next couple of years. If we believe that, we need to get people buying into the message that the responsibility sits with you and me to make bigger changes. It is no longer just about LED light bulbs. That will not get us to the 2050 targets. There is a need for investment, hand in hand with a systemic approach to support.

Stewart Stevenson

Forgive me, but I am really looking at the rural versus urban issue. I would not own a car if I lived in Edinburgh, but the fact is that, from where I live, it is a two-hour walk to the nearest bus stop. Also, the current generation of electric cars will not get me to Aberdeen and back on one charge. What am I going to do?

The Convener

I will take a very short supplementary from Richard Lyle before we move on to Claudia Beamish.

Richard Lyle (Uddingston and Bellshill) (SNP)

Dr Rachel Howell mentioned Holland. My mother-in-law was Dutch; I first went to the country in 1973, and I have subsequently visited quite a lot, so I know that its transport system is fantastic and very cheap. For example, a bus will come along every five or 10 minutes. Should we in Scotland have a more reliable bus service? Should we promote park-and-ride schemes more? When you go past some park-and-ride areas, you can see that they are just lying empty.

Mary Sweetland

The park and ride at Ingliston is not empty; it is full, and its charging places for electric cars are always full, too. Perhaps in some cases the location of the park and ride is the problem, but I know some that are being very well used.

Jamie Stewart

I certainly agree that we need a cheap and reliable bus service. Some of the targets for emissions reductions in the transport sector possibly rely on the use of electric or hydrogen vehicles, but the costs of them are prohibitive at the moment. Furthermore, a big section of society cannot afford private transport. Those people need to be supported and, in that respect, it is essential that we have a good and reliable bus service.

Dr Howell

A reliable and affordable bus service is very important, but I want to suggest other measures that might make using the car less convenient and not so cheap.

We can, for example, look at certain co-benefits. In Edinburgh, we are seeing more and more schemes in which the roads near schools are closed at pick-up and drop-off time for children, and parents and children are behind such a move, because of concerns about air pollution. That is the kind of scheme that can be rolled out and joined up with other things. After all, the issue is not just air pollution right by the school gates; children live in the streets near schools, and you could have driving bans in whole areas rather than individual streets at particular times. We could close more streets to private vehicles and make them places where only cyclists, walkers, taxis and buses can go.

The Convener

Before I move on to Claudia Beamish, I want to draw your attention to a point that was made by two Swedish experts from whom we heard last week. They said that, in rural areas, we are never going to be able to have the bus services that you are talking about. It is just not going to happen. That sort of thing might work as we move towards the cities, but certainly not where I, Stewart Stevenson and Rhoda Grant as a Highlands and Islands MSP come from. As a result, we are going to have to incentivise electric cars as the way forward. In that case, might there need to be almost a dual policy of incentivisation of electric vehicles in rural areas and something else more structural in urban centres?

Dr Howell

Absolutely. Indeed, the First Minister has said that fossil-fuelled cars are going to be phased out by 2032. Therefore, there will need to be some help for people, and we are going to have to set up the charging infrastructure for people who live in rural areas. It will become the norm, but that whole system will certainly need to be set up.

Rural and urban areas need to be treated differently. In response to an earlier question, I think that the Government will have to not only think strategically about very large-scale roll-outs of structural changes but target where such moves will work first. For example, even though air-source heat pumps are the best replacement for oil-fired boilers, it might not be best to target them at very rural areas, because the engineers who will install them probably live a long distance away. Instead, some of the smaller towns close to those areas could be targeted so that the network of engineers can get bigger and spread out. Once those engineers are in place, the most rural areas can be targeted.

09:45  



The Convener

Does it not disadvantage rural areas that they do not get the opportunity to access new technologies because of that? We have a situation where, yet again, it is more expensive to live in a rural area. We are almost being penalised for populating such areas. We have a drive for people to live in the cities because they have better bus services, access to all the new technology, cheaper fuel bills and so on.

Dr Howell

Yes. I am afraid that there is no perfect policy here. What we need to work out is where we have to get to and what we are trying to avoid. We always have to keep in mind that all policies will have some downsides for some people, but the biggest downside will be if we do not tackle climate change, because that will create an inhospitable world. We have to do the next best thing we can do to avoid that huge problem, rather than say that we cannot do this, that or the other because it is not perfect. We cannot allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good, or the good enough.

Claudia Beamish (South Scotland) (Lab)

I have a quick supplementary question. Do the panellists agree that one issue is the development of skills for smaller towns and rural areas so that rural dwellers such as Stewart Stevenson and me can benefit from technologies? I put my hand up in shame and say that I am another person who has an oil boiler and has kept wanting to change but, even on my salary, has wondered about that. Are skills an area that we should be developing everywhere from Eyemouth to Orkney? I see a lot of heads nodding.

Jamie Stewart

Having skills and the appropriate resources to provide support services to rural areas is really important. We can look at the smart meter roll-out as an example. At present, it is generally being focused on urban areas. We know that smart meters will bring lots of advantages, with people being more aware of their energy use, and they will also facilitate lots of different smart technologies. However, the roll-out is quite slow in rural areas, and—

Claudia Beamish

It might be encouraging to know that mine is being installed tomorrow, following a phone call to me.

Jamie Stewart

I hope that it works. [Laughter.] It is always going to be a difficult issue when we have isolated areas, but it is important to ensure that companies and Government support programmes are well resourced enough to ensure that people in rural and remote communities have that advice and support.

Mary Sweetland

I am an inhabitant of a rural village that is 22 miles from Glasgow and is in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs national park but does not have superfast broadband yet. The infrastructure is an issue, and so is its reliability. I have an electric car, but how often do I go to a rapid charger and discover that it is not working? Chargers have been installed, but the engineers are not in place to keep them up to date, and when there is a storm such as Ali, they suddenly go off because they are not getting the broadband signal.

We need to consider such things from a skills perspective. We need to develop a circular economy, and in order to meet the targets, we have got to become more thrifty. That is a good old Scottish word. Actually, the expanding growth in the economy has got to move to environmental topics rather than being in big commercial projects.

Going back to the subject of international best practice, I add that climate justice is a major concern for the churches, because the communities that are suffering the most are the ones that have done least to increase their carbon use. They want Scotland to share its knowledge and experience, rather than selling it to them for profit. We have examples involving solar ovens in Bolivia, how solar panels work, the use of wind and so on. The developing world is looking for Scotland to share its skill sets. We have been doing some superb work on that, but we need the industry to change to a focus on development work.

When I built my Passivhaus, there were very few people around who knew how to build one, and they had only single skill sets. I needed a joiner and an electrician, so I was waiting about. We need to bring about a big change in the building sector.

Claudia Beamish

I want to follow up on the international issue with Mary Sweetland before I put a question to the whole panel. The Eco-Congregation Scotland submission says:

“One of the principal drivers of climate action in churches is the impact of stories from ... around the world.”

As I understand it, those stories are from places where the impacts of climate change are being experienced. To what degree is it, do you think, appropriate or useful for those stories to be told beyond the churches to effect behaviour change in the developed world?

Mary Sweetland

I think that that is essential—we see that with the work of the Disasters Emergency Committee. The churches work with all the big charities, including Christian Aid, the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund and Tearfund. The telling of such stories is a key part of our supporting international development. That is one of the roles for which eco-congregations take responsibility.

Technology is great—it means that we can share stories and they can have an impact. We have all enjoyed finding out, through David Attenborough, about the impact of plastics. We can use the media to communicate what is happening and to share knowledge and experience of what we can do. The millennial generation is having the biggest impact in that regard. The churches have always said that those who are responsible for high use of carbon need to make a change for the sake of their grandchildren, but now there is a realisation that we might, in our generation, see the impact of climate change on Scotland.

Claudia Beamish

This question is for the whole panel. The committee has scrutinised the Scottish Government’s climate change plan. As I am sure you will know, it focuses on seven key sectors. For the record, those sectors are electricity, buildings, transport, industry, waste, land-use change and forestry, and agriculture. The plan is to be updated to reflect the bill’s new emissions reduction trajectory to 2050.

Should additional sectors be included? Last week, Swedish experts mentioned the fashion industry and said that reuse of the materials in mobile phones is difficult because components are glued together, which corrupts the plastic. Are there particular sectors in which it is important to develop further behaviour change? If so, what are they and what can be done? Perhaps the witnesses could comment on the sectors that they have most knowledge and experience of, or those that are the heaviest emitters.

Jamie Stewart

People have been highlighting the importance of emissions reductions from the residential sector, from which a third of our emissions come. There is an opportunity to reduce emissions there. I will come back to my earlier point: the problem is that people do not realise that the energy that they use in the home makes a big contribution to overall emissions. To an extent, people feel that what they do in the home is tokenistic. We need to provide people with more information and education to make them realise that turning down the thermostat can have quite a big impact if people throughout the country do it. That relates to the need for an aspirational awareness-raising campaign instead of telling people that they must do things such as turn down their thermostats. We need to help people to realise that they can have a positive impact. It is important to focus on positives. Small actions can facilitate change and a reduction in emissions.

Shane Donnellan

I will chip in here, and hope that I do not cover anything that Jamie Stewart has already said.

Buildings are a hugely important sector—they have been described as the low-hanging fruit. A huge amount of progress has been made there; for example, the Scottish Government’s great internal wall insulation programme, with its aim of upgrading existing stock, has been running for many years now.

However, if that sort of thing happens in isolation from behavioural advice, you might find that some people take the savings from their houses being warmer while others open the windows to cool their houses down a little. We are seeing that time and again; what you might call the rebound effect is a common problem in some of the large-scale retrofits. It has been known about since the industrial revolution; it is the equivalent of someone buying low-fat ice cream but eating twice as much of it, simply because it is low fat. We are seeing a lot of that happening in the approach that is being taken to buildings.

There is no point in doing things like giving interest-free loans or making full-on investment in upgrading properties if people and their behaviour are not put front and centre, and if the inhabitants of properties are simply ignored. They need to be given the skills and shown how to work their thermostats if their houses are too warm, for example. Not tying all that together has been a missed opportunity.

Finally, aviation is absent from the climate change plan. It has a huge impact on the environment—much more than some of the smaller things that have been included in the plan and which could be seen just as tinkering at the edges. Its omission is notable, but I am sure that there are reasons for it.

Dr Howell

As far as behaviours are concerned, we need to focus on food, because I think that one of the least-understood aspects is the link between diet and climate change. In that, again, there are fantastic co-benefits. We do not have to rely on a narrative that is all about climate change, which not everyone is connected to, because the need to change behaviour by reducing meat and dairy intake is exactly the same as the advice for a healthy lifestyle. There are ways of tackling that issue that do not have to involve climate change legislation. For example, really stringent animal welfare legislation, which would be very popular with a lot of people, would drive up the cost of meat and change the balance when it comes to people choosing their main source of protein.

You could also work with general practitioners and hospitals on ensuring that there was plenty of advice on healthy eating, which needs to include advice on how to find and cook alternatives. I am always astonished to hear my students saying that it is more expensive not to eat meat. I can only think that they are substituting meat with expensive processed alternatives such as Quorn, or are using recipes that involve very expensive ingredients such as cashews and pine nuts, and that they do not realise just how plentiful and cheap pulses and so on are.

As we have already talked a lot about transport, I will not go into that, but we have not seen the progress that we need in that area. We really need to focus on getting transport emissions down, because they have been static for a long time. As for land use, a nitrogen budget needs to be established in the bill to drive changes in farming.

The last comments that I made may have sounded rather harsh, but I want to make it clear that the level of change that we need will have significant impacts that will be different in urban and rural areas, and different in various sectors, in terms of jobs. That is why attention needs to be paid, in the bill, to ensuring a just transition, with some kind of commission having oversight of the matter to ensure that and to work out how to mitigate problems for people in rural areas. I certainly do not want people just to say, “Well—tough luck.”

John Scott

I am sorry, but I am quite exercised by your essentially having said that rural areas should be disadvantaged—

Dr Howell

Well—

John Scott

You said it earlier. I appreciate that you have now corrected it.

Dr Howell

“Should” is not the word that I used.

John Scott

The reality of what you are saying is that rural areas would be disadvantaged for the benefit of the majority.

It is not progress to benefit the many by disadvantaging the few. If that is what you are saying, something has to be done.

You are painting a fairly grim picture of a meat-free, livestock-free landscape where we are encouraged—if not forced—to eat pulses. That is not a future that I would welcome.

10:00  



Dr Howell

You are putting words in my mouth. I did not say that everybody needs to have a meat-free diet; I said that we need to reduce the amount of meat and dairy that people eat. People do not have to eat pulses at every meal. However, I suggest that people would be healthier: they would be eating a healthy diet that would cut down heart disease, for example. I am certainly not imagining a scenario in which everybody has to turn vegan—which is one of the very unhelpful messages that is coming out. This is not about extremes; it is about very large numbers of people making reductions, rather than about very small numbers of people going to extremes.

I am very sorry if I did not express myself clearly enough on rural areas. I certainly do not feel that rural areas should be disadvantaged, but no policy can be brought in without some disadvantage to some people. We have to try to mitigate that disadvantage, but we cannot simply say that we cannot do anything because there will be some disadvantage to some people. We have to consider how to offset that. There are ways in which we might be able to do that.

If we simply say that we cannot bring in the policies that we need in order to change behaviour at the required level, we are accepting 3°C to 4°C warming by the end of this century, which will be a tremendous disadvantage for everybody.

The Convener

There is another aspect to what we are talking about: people who are on low incomes are not thinking that they will eat this, that or the next thing because they want to change the environment; rather, they are thinking about how they can get through the week. We have to make things work for everybody. A just transition must not disadvantage people who are on low incomes. The idea of getting a new boiler will not cross a person’s mind if they cannot pay their electricity bill or put food on the table. How do we deal with that? The majority of people are not in a position to talk about getting a heat pump installed.

Shane Donnellan

You spoke earlier about the two-tiered approach. That is where the people who can afford air-source heat pumps need to be encouraged to do so, so that funding can be directed to those who cannot afford them, which is the approach that is practised. The self-funded body of people who may not have been prioritised over the years are more difficult to engage with. Lots of people do not know what the hook is, and I do not think that that has been fully cracked yet.

The term “self-funded” has gone through different iterations. We did internal research. Initially, we referred to people as “able to pay”—that is, anyone who was not at risk of fuel poverty was able to pay. When we completed the research, we found that people do not see themselves as being able to pay, they do not see themselves as sitting on a huge pile of money just because they are on a higher income, and they do not see themselves as squandering money and opening windows when the heat is on. Their threshold is a little bit higher.

I will use a coffee machine as an example. Some people say, “I like good coffee, so I’ve got a coffee machine. I’ve got a 50-inch TV, but I don’t waste energy. I just like my quality of life.” The threshold is raised and, through their lifestyles, people use a little bit more energy. Those are the people who really need to be engaged with so that they get air-source heat pumps and invest in energy efficiency—that is, the people that initiatives such as the home energy efficiency programmes cannot fund, because they fund people who are in fuel poverty. That would be the approach to take.

Jamie Stewart

The convener made a really important point. Through the citizens advice bureau network, we see people coming in from stressed and chaotic environments who might be in debt, including energy debt. Their having the financial capability, the time or the engagement levels to invest in a new boiler is a big risk for the Scottish Government. Where targets rely on people in those situations making such decisions, there is a big risk that targets will be missed.

On solutions, it is important that we provide holistic advice and support—and advice should be holistic through including benefits checks in order to maximise income. Alongside that, and perhaps further down the line, people might look at what grants and incentives are available to upgrade property.

Issues should be tackled in priority order—the most pressing issues should be tackled first. Once a relationship is built up through face-to-face advice, people can be provided with support, including Scottish Government grants that are available to some people to install boilers.

Mark Ruskell

There are some interesting examples from Nordic countries of services and the economy being focused on rural areas. What impact will broadband and the new economy have on rural areas? There is a tendency to think of everyone going to the city to work and access services. To what extent will the cultural shift around relocalisation make a difference?

Mary Sweetland

Scotland could do more on green tourism. If we want to stop visitors to the national parks using cars, there needs to be infrastructure to get them there and there is a need for reliable broadband. That would develop rural jobs, as well. It is quite a shift, even to encourage visitors to Scotland to do without their cars, which would reduce congestion at weekends at, for example, Balmaha, when there is no parking available. We have to think about a complete economic shift.

I will go back to the community effect of mitigation for energy. In some areas, there is the potential for community hydro schemes to bring in an enormous amount of funding to communities. The cost of developing them and putting in a turbine is considerable, however.

Apparently, 100 years ago most big old rural houses had their own hydro schemes, but they have fallen into disrepair. Those could be recommissioned, as has happened near Taynuilt, to produce community energy, instead of £10 million having to be paid to put in a new hydro scheme. Perhaps there is a way that Scotland could, in rural areas, be pushing to find these old schemes, and to re-establish them to generate electricity locally that could be used to charge electric cars and so on. If we put the infrastructure in place, we could attract green tourism.

The Convener

Claudia Beamish has a last question before we move on.

Claudia Beamish

I am going to try asking a kind of vision question. If anyone knows the answer, we will all sigh with relief.

What would need to change in behaviour to go beyond the 2050 target that the Scottish Government has in the bill—of reducing emissions by 90 per cent—to a net zero target? It is a probing question; if anyone has thoughts on behaviour change, we would value them.

The Convener

Who would like to go first?

Shane Donnellan

It is difficult to see where behaviour change fits in relation to 90 per cent or 100 per cent targets, given that behavioural targets have not been put forward. That was the thinking behind my opening comment.

The climate change plan refers to widespread uptake of EVs, but how widespread is widespread? It also refers to societal shifts in how we work and live, but how many is that and what are they? If we do not know what the targets are, it is difficult to add 10 per cent on to them.

Jamie Stewart

I apologise for focusing on the domestic sector again, but it is the one that I know most about. If we are looking at ensuring that all properties have a band C energy performance certificate by 2040—which is a target that will have to be met if we are moving towards even a 90 per cent target—we will have to rely on the owner-occupier sector and what are potentially quite expensive measures. Again, we have to make this aspirational for people and ensure that the right grants and incentives are in place to encourage them to upgrade their properties to be energy efficient.

Dr Howell

As you have recognised, there is no nice, neat answer to your question, so I cannot give you one. Nevertheless, I am feeling uncomfortable about our perhaps focusing too much on the issue of the individual and choice, which is what I hear when I hear questions about behaviour. Again, I want to point out that, in order to meet the targets that we need to aim for—which I should say is net zero, not 90 per cent by 2050—we will need huge structural roll-outs and an urgent phased closure of the oil and gas industry with a just transition to a huge programme of renewables. After all, Scotland has the best wave and tidal resources in the whole of Europe, and it could be a tremendous leader on the issue. We therefore need to be looking at going quite a long way beyond what we are doing at the moment. That does not mean that we are just going to ignore individuals—after all, we need engagement with new technologies and this programme of change—but we certainly cannot put all the responsibility on individuals to get us as far as we need to go. It will require much more than persuasion and voluntarism.

With regard to behaviours, we basically need to make, say, travelling or heating one’s home in ways that do not require fossil fuels, eating a lower-carbon diet and so on the cheapest, the easiest or the most normal thing to do. That brings us back to the issue of people on lower incomes. Given the very strong correlation between income and greenhouse gas emissions, we do not want to target lower-income people with messages about air-source heat pumps. People can end up feeling guilty and stressed about what they cannot do, and that is why we need a structural change that is aimed at the landlords and social landlords who can make a difference and which will, in turn, provide benefits for lower-income people. After all, it is the lower-income people in inner cities who are suffering most from air pollution, and part of the message that we need to get out is that the changes that we need will benefit them.

Mary Sweetland

The answer is to reduce consumption, but that does not fit well into macroeconomic models. We need to get back to a culture of make do and mend instead of a throwaway culture. Of course, that will mean bringing up people’s skill sets to ensure that they can repair things. Those are the kinds of drastic changes that we need; we need to bring it all back to thrift, but I think that economics people might struggle with such a suggestion.

The Convener

It might be good to follow up that question when we have businesses in front of us.

Richard Lyle

Dr Howell and Mary Sweetland are going to agree with me, but the fact is that we all need to change, because if we do not, we will be letting our children, our grandchildren and our planet down. However, are we just kidding ourselves on here? Are we just tinkering at the edges and doing the easy fixes? Do we need to get real? What barriers exist to achieving the required behavioural changes, how can they be overcome and who should be responsible for that? I am sure that you will have plenty to say about that.

10:15  



Shane Donnellan

Are we kidding ourselves? That is a question for the Scottish Government and the wider public. The ambitions have been globally recognised as being particularly ambitious, both at the time of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 and since then. There have been some really good targets, but we cannot celebrate the ambitions and congratulate ourselves if we do not then try to achieve them and really try to drive that change. There are some barriers to the acceptance that we will do that. The work will not be comfortable for everyone. There is going to be a need for some tough political decisions and a need for members of the community to step up and do more than they are doing. Business-as-usual approaches will lead to business-as-usual solutions. The targets are ambitious and we need to step up to them.

On other barriers, Jamie Stewart mentioned people not recognising the impacts of their individual behaviours. That needs to be emphasised, but we also need good leadership. People say, “I can turn my thermostat down by a degree, but there’s an industrial plant on the outskirts of town that belches out CO2.” There needs to be some regulation so that we have a systemic approach and not just the carrot and stick of Mrs Jones on the street having to change. This needs to be done across society, with businesses, industry and local authorities having roles.

That leads me to the point that there is a strong role not only for local authorities but for community groups. It is not necessarily the case that people always want what is best for their community. In my experience, they want what is best for them within their community. The community organisations are great at being in between individuals and local authorities and engaging with people who are concerned about how things will affect their families and what changes they will have to make.

Mary Sweetland

You will know that, nowadays, most of our members of churches are in the grey-haired arena. At the beginning, their view was, “What’s the point? We’re not going to be here.” However, we have seen a change, and with the communications and other things, they now accept that we need to do this work for our children and grandchildren. That is a big shift that we have managed to bring about through the 450-odd churches that are involved in the eco-congregation Scotland network.

However, the churches are also the main source of volunteers in Scotland. Through individual action and the things that they do, they talk to the community groups that use the church buildings and they see what they do, so they can make sure that polystyrene is not used anywhere and educate the people who come to the churches. We are beginning to roll that work out through different networks. It is a bit like the community asset model.

There are ministers and priests in Scotland who say, “Climate change isn’t happening. What’s it to do with us?” Part of the role of our environmental chaplain is to make sure that nobody from any of the Christian faiths—and they also work with other faiths in Scotland—questions whether they have a responsibility to bring about the behaviour change that looks after the world.

Dr Howell

I partly agree with Mr Lyle, but the Scottish Government is genuinely trying to lead here, and that is excellent. There is a real attempt to make changes, so in that sense I do not think that we are just kidding ourselves.

However, we will, unfortunately, be kidding ourselves if we just stick with the targets in the bill. We are kidding ourselves if we think that reaching 90 per cent by 2050 and 66 per cent by 2030, which does not represent significant change from what we already have, will be enough for where we need to get to, or in terms of justice. That is important in relation to psychologically engaging people, because we are going to be looking at very significant changes. Why would people make changes if they would perhaps get us nearly to where we want to be, but not quite there? It will not encourage people if they hear from organisations such as Stop Climate Chaos and academics such as Kevin Anderson that the targets that have been put in place are not going to be good enough. That is not an engaging narrative. That is one important point.

On whose responsibility it is, I have a lot of sympathy with policy makers. You are between a rock and a hard place. I was saying this to Jamie Stewart outside the meeting room. A few years ago, there was quite a strong narrative from the public about how people really want us to do something about climate change but they do not want us to do anything that really affects them. That narrative is changing now. People are looking for strong leadership and Scotland is in a fantastic place to offer leadership and a positive and aspirational narrative about leadership on climate change within the UK and the international community.

The Government has a huge responsibility, but we share it. We—me, as a teacher, my colleagues here—as public engagers all share the responsibility and it is ours, now, in this moment. Our generation has to do this. We have to make the changes now. The policy makers, teachers and so on of today have to change things. It is our moment.

Jamie Stewart

To reiterate what Rachel Howell has said, the Scottish Government is leading in this area. It has a low carbon behaviours team and the ISM tool, which is a good tool for looking at how behaviour should be incorporated into public policy.

However, it is important to have a bit more clarity about what is expected of people. That does not necessarily need to be communicated immediately to individual households, but the climate change plan has set targets for one-off behaviour changes, such as installing energy efficiency measures and, beyond that, people and organisations do not know what is expected of individuals and whether individual change is required. The Scottish Government should perhaps try to make that clearer so that the delivery organisations on the ground and the grassroots organisations know what behaviours they are striving for.

The Convener

As I mentioned earlier, we took evidence from two individuals in Sweden. They said that, until now, climate change has been incremental but transformational change is now required. Where do you see that transformation happening? Is it really going to be incumbent on Government to put things in place for such a transformational change to take place? If you were going to lead such transformational change, and were going to do X because it would make the biggest difference, what do you think should be tackled first to drive this transformational change that is not going to disadvantage ordinary Scots? I am sorry; I know that is a very difficult question but it is the big question: what is the transformation and how do we bring people with us?

Mary Sweetland

Part of what we do through the eco-congregation networks involves the early adopters. Yesterday, somebody asked me why I had an electric car and why I did not get a hybrid. My answer to that was there was an interest-free loan from the Scottish Government, and I wanted to show that we could travel from Gartocharn to Edinburgh using an electric car, that it worked and that it was reliable.

Three or four other people have now followed that lead. That is one of the things that networks can do. We had someone from the plastic free West Dunbartonshire campaign talking to our local network yesterday. People were sharing ideas, and we need to have communities who can do that. That is how we see bringing about that transformational change.

We need leadership that says that we have to go there and gives out clear messages and it has to come from the whole Scottish Government, not just the environment department. Sometimes, the approach is not joined up. There needs to be a straightforward approach to tackling the issue. Every department needs to think about which of its policies could have an impact on the environment.

Jamie Stewart

It is almost a cause of anxiety that people feel that a big transformational change needs to be made but they are not quite sure what they need to do. There needs to be recognition that a lot of that transformational change will be made by various sectors. I am thinking of sectors in which emissions have not reduced, such as the agricultural sector and the transport sector. I feel that all the emphasis should not be put on making the individual change through the use of a guilt-driven agenda. There needs to be agreement that the transformational change that is required will be made by all sectors and that individuals can play their part. Buying an electric vehicle is a way for individuals to reduce their transport emissions. Beyond that, we should encourage simple changes, such as changes in how we heat our homes and insulate our properties. We should not give people the idea that they have to make big scary changes; people should be encouraged to make simple changes that they want to make, such as reducing their meat consumption. I think that we should steer away from building up fear among people that, as individuals, they ought to make really big changes.

Stewart Stevenson

We are trying to tease out the barriers that exist to behaviour change. I want to briefly explore the issue of perception versus reality. The context for that is something that Shane Donnellan said earlier—that it is cheaper to fly to London than it is to get the train. I have just done a check. On 10 December, leaving at 8 o’clock in the morning, a train ticket costs £34, whereas the cheapest flight costs £58. On top of that, people who fly arrive at an airport; they do not arrive in the city. The cost of the additional surface travel for getting to the city centre is a further £21.60. Therefore, the train costs £34 and flying costs a total of £79.60, if you book a month ahead.

Is it not the case that there is a perception problem, whereby people think that, if they are going to fly, they must plan ahead, but when they want to catch the train, they can just get the walk-up fare? If people do that, flying looks cheap. How do we tackle that? In a sense, I am gently accusing Shane Donnellan of perpetuating a myth. Personally, I have never found it to be cheaper to fly between Edinburgh and London—except on one occasion—and it is certainly not quicker. It is also much more hassle. How do we tackle the issue of perception and reality, of which that is one example?

The Convener

Does anyone want to answer Stewart Stevenson’s question?

Stewart Stevenson

Shane Donnellan might want to.

The Convener

As you were mentioned, Shane—

Dr Howell

Shane wants time to think.

In some ways, you are right, but that is not always the case. There is definitely an issue with perception and reality. For example, research shows that people underestimate how long it takes to get somewhere by car and that they overestimate how long it would take to make the same journey by walking or cycling. We also have very different ideas about delays. If a train is delayed by 10 minutes, everyone complains about how poor the train service is. If someone was making the same journey by car, they would never say to the people whom they were visiting, “I’m going to arrive at three minutes past 12,” and consider themselves late if they arrived at 13 minutes past 12. They would say, “I’ll probably be with you around lunch time,” or, “I’ll be there somewhere between 12 and 1.” How people approach such decisions is an interesting issue.

One of the things that we can do is make people aware of that. People can sometimes change the way that they think simply by being aware of what they do. The bystander effect—the effect whereby, if several people witness an event in response to which action needs to be taken, all of them wait for someone else to do something—can be reduced or eliminated by telling people that that is what happens, so that they know that they need to take action in such circumstances. If we tell people and get them to think about the issue—in this case, if we get them to think about how long in advance they plan for a flight and how long in advance they plan for a train journey—that might help to change people’s behaviour.

10:30  



I do not think that it is always the case that it is cheaper to travel by train, so we need to tackle the real barriers that prevent people travelling by train. It is often cheaper to fly if people are taking a flight to London to go further on. Someone can buy a through ticket if they are flying down to London in order to get to Singapore. If they want to make a long-distance journey by train, they can go to a wonderful website—the man in seat 61—that will tell them about a load of different train companies, but they will not be able to buy a through ticket and there will be all sorts of different deadlines by which they need to book a cheap ticket in advance. For example, they could book from Edinburgh to London for £34 or whatever for one date, but they cannot be certain that they will get a follow-on ticket from London to Paris or wherever, because the booking window for that will not be open. We need to think about the different ways in which people are undertaking journeys and ensure that everything is much more joined up.

Stewart Stevenson

I use the man in seat 61 website. I had to fly from Krakow to Budapest and it was 11 times more expensive than Budapest to Bratislava, which was further.

The Convener

I am sorry, but we have to move on rather than talk about how to get to Budapest, as we have other questions that need answered. I will move on to Angus MacDonald.

Angus MacDonald (Falkirk East) (SNP)

Good morning, panel. In the evidence that we took from Sweden last week, Stefan Nyström and Anders Wijkman spoke about how much easier it would be to communicate a net zero target to the general public than to speak about lesser targets or percentages, which can make it difficult for the general public to comprehend fully. We have already explored this to some extent, but can you expand on how policy makers can secure popular support and, more important, buy-in for Scotland’s climate change targets?

Shane Donnellan

Something that has been mentioned before—it is a bit of a shock phrase—is war effort. A lot of people who are still with us refer back to the war and to how it was a case of everyone getting on board, doing their bit and playing their part. Everyone was part of the war effort. I will stop the war analogy, because I do not think that doom and gloom will be helpful and motivating for people. However, it is about telling people that they have a role and that it is up to them. It is not a case of people just doing one or two clearly visible behaviours; it is about a way of living their life, a new approach and building a momentum.

This week, a survey found that 600,000 Britons identify as vegan, which is a fourfold increase in four years. That is because it is now okay to be vegan. I am not saying that we all need to go vegan. However, being vegan has been normalised and better vegan options are available in supermarkets and restaurants; it is no longer just the pursuit of the elite who do not have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, but is now an option. There is also vegetarianism and—because everything needs a label—flexitarianism, which is about people reducing the amount of meat that they eat. In the national survey, two thirds of Britons reported that within the past couple of years they have reduced the amount of meat that they consume, largely for environmental reasons and because other people are doing it.

We do not need to refer to the idea of a war effort, but we need to bring everyone on board—that will be key.

Mary Sweetland

Media coverage of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent report suggests that people are very keen on doing their bit and that a net zero target would be well accepted across Scotland, because it would make people realise that they need to take some action.

Jamie Stewart

Gaining public support for a net zero 2050 target is the easy part; getting public support for the programmes that will come into place next year is the more difficult bit. If we look at the owner-occupier sector, is there a regulation that says that people will have to do something with their homes? Public support is needed for the short-term programmes that facilitate the long-term targets, which are the important part.

Research, including research on consumers, is important to understanding what makes people want to participate in short-term targets rather than just thinking that we should be net zero by 2050. It is important to think about what takes place in the next few years.

Dr Howell

The justice narrative is attractive and engaging—it is about taking a just approach in Scotland and across the world. Framing it as something that is about our playing a just part is very attractive to people, and all sorts of organisations will help to push that narrative. For example, Scotland has ties with Malawi, so lots of organisations will be interested in doing that as part of their work.

The Convener

Should the economics be an argument? Sometimes, the economic opportunity for people does not get talked about as much.

Dr Howell

My suggested structural changes would lead to a huge job-building programme, so long as we did it properly and with proper thought. As I mentioned, with a just transition you do not just allow people’s jobs to drop away; you bring in jobs, too.

The Convener

The tendency is to talk about giving stuff up and to say that things will change in a negative way. We need to reverse that and talk about the changes in a positive way.

Dr Howell

It is about gaining healthier lifestyles, safer streets and cleaner ways of living, and about our being looked up to as a leader—there are a load of positive narratives. I keep using the word “co-benefits”, which is very important. This does not have to be all about climate change legislation; it can be about all sorts of other concerns that people feel strongly about, such as air pollution and healthy lifestyles.

Rhoda Grant

Citizens Advice Scotland has identified four areas that are likely to influence how certain policies will impact consumers differently. We have spoken about two of those areas: those who live in urban and rural areas and the socioeconomic status of consumers. The other two areas are people’s local authority area and consumers’ housing tenure. Given what we have heard this morning—I say this with a degree of disappointment—it looks as though the policies could build in huge disadvantage in already disadvantaged communities, especially for those in rural areas and maybe for those of a lower socioeconomic status. How should those considerations be built into future climate policy and a just transition in a way that will not leave people behind or damage their interests? Those issues have concerned me this morning.

Jamie Stewart

Thank you for raising those points. Again, it is about looking at the potential co-benefits and opportunities rather than the negative impacts.

There are risks; there are negative impacts. However, let us take fuel poverty as an example. In Scotland, 26.5 per cent of people are in fuel poverty, and a lot of them live in energy inefficient homes. Programmes that have appropriate Government financial support to help people to insulate their homes would not, I hope, impact negatively on the household. If the grants are there to help, there will be positive health impacts from insulation. We have to look at such programmes in terms of their not only reducing emissions, but having the co-benefit of improving health and wellbeing. It is important to look at programmes that focus on co-benefits.

Mary Sweetland

I wonder whether the challenge is in setting targets that include a rural focus. The roll-out of superfast broadband has a great target, but any company will pick the low-hanging fruit and it is the final 5 per cent—which are the rural communities—that do not have broadband. We must ensure that there is a specific rural target, so that those communities are up front and are not left until the end. That might be something for you to focus on, in order to ensure that they are not left disadvantaged by climate change policy.

If people can work from home, they do not need to travel as much. They could videoconference in to meetings, rather than travel for two hours to Edinburgh for today’s meeting. The societal change that needs to happen is about not having meetings for meetings’ sake. We will have other ways of communicating and people will be able to stay in rural areas and do that.

Rhoda Grant

That works if people have broadband.

Mary Sweetland

Exactly. Do not talk to me about that at the moment.

John Scott

I should have declared an interest as a farmer and a one-time rural dweller in my previous exchange with Dr Howell.

Much has been said about what needs to be done, particularly in rural areas, which, as Rhoda Grant has said, are already disadvantaged through lack of services, lack of broadband and fuel poverty. If a two-tier society is envisaged, and de facto that is what is being said, what are the practical things that can be done?

To throw the challenge back to the panel, what is academia doing about knowledge transfer? You appear to have given up on the voluntary approach. Perhaps you should look at whether you are entirely satisfied that you have done all that you can in advising rural businesses on how to proceed in what they should be doing in the future. I am not certain that that work is being done by the Government. I am not sure that it is being done by academia. I would be interested in what you have to say about that.

Dr Howell

No academic is ever satisfied that they have done enough in terms of research or transferring knowledge. The job is never finished.

The pressures on my work mean that my main avenue of knowledge transfer is to students. It is becoming harder to do the job of going beyond the university, because of the pressure of the number of students. Partly because I am in the job because I love teaching and facilitating learning, I see my main sphere of influence as with students.

I have not done enough about talking to rural businesses, because that is not my area of expertise. I am sorry that I have been misunderstood in terms of my expertise and what I was trying to say. I was not envisaging a two-tier society. I was envisaging that there might be different speeds at which things are rolled out, and that there should not be penalties on people who live in rural areas if things cannot be rolled out at the same speed. For example, I am anti the idea of having a huge carbon tax, precisely because it would have a disproportionate impact on poorer people and people who live in more rural areas.

There definitely needs to be a whole load more research, and more people doing it. That is what any academic will always say.

John Scott

I do not mean it badly, but would it be fair to say that we are long on analysis today about what the problems are but short on solutions. Maybe others, such as Claudia Beamish, disagree with me, but that is what the debate is about. I would like to hear more about the solutions. I am not certain that we are being told about the practical solutions. I agree with the panel that there is a willingness to change that is manifest across every aspect of life in Scotland, but there is uncertainty about what needs to be done to put one’s shoulder to the wheel.

Dr Howell

I do not think that we are short on solutions. We are short on a very detailed road map of exactly how to get there and how to do it justly.

That is not entirely the fault of researchers. When you do research, you cannot be certain what the outcome is going to be. For example, Cancer Research UK has not yet managed to eliminate cancer, but that does not mean that it is not doing important work. Every time something is published that finds that a treatment does not work, that is just as valuable as finding a treatment that does work.

10:45  



As I said earlier, I am sorry to say that, in 10 years of research, I have learned a lot about what does not work, what does not work very well or what works only incrementally as far as persuasion, focusing on values and so on are concerned. However, that work is not useless, because it points us in the direction that we have to go in. That is why I am changing my research programme. All I can do is be honest about what I have learned and how that has led me to change my thinking.

I share Mr Scott’s frustration on this matter. I read academic papers that contain a lot of critique of Governments for focusing too much on psychological and economic levers and not enough on structures, and I want them to say exactly how it would work. Some papers do, and they talk about whole-system change, of which the congestion charge in London is a good example. There are just not enough good examples, but that is not necessarily because people are not trying to find them; it is because this is a really difficult problem.

Having an analysis of the problem is very important if we are to find solutions, but there are still some people in society and the policy world who do not accept what the problem is or exactly how serious it is. Last week, I attended Kevin Anderson’s public talk—I am sure that many of you were at his private event—and, although his analysis was rather short on very detailed solutions, he gave some broad-picture solutions and it was still valuable to hear exactly where he thinks we are at with regard to a fair carbon budget for Scotland and the overall picture.

Mark Ruskell

In my final question, I want to come back to the bill, its targets and the scale of its ambition. The United Kingdom Committee on Climate Change has offered its view by saying that the current targets in the bill are

“at the limit of feasibility”,

but what do you consider to be feasible? Do you, too, believe that we are at the limits of feasibility, or do you think that there are ways in which we could go further? What does feasibility mean in terms of behaviour change? Are we at that limit yet?

Mary Sweetland

I will tackle that question, given my experience of setting targets in the health service. I have always said that there should be goals, not targets. We should set a goal of being at zero carbon. We are talking about a long time from now, and the predictions that people are making will be adjusted over the next 30 to 40 years. I know that politicians get concerned about setting targets that they know will not be met. If the aim is to change behaviour, we might miss the target at the end of things and reach only 95 per cent, but at least we will know what we are trying to get to. That might help to bring about the change in a better way.

Jamie Stewart

I agree that it seems like a long-term target and like we have lots of time to change. However, if we are thinking about more structural behaviours such as the buying of new boilers, the fact is that people keep boilers for 30 or 40 years, which means that we are relying on programmes such as energy efficient Scotland being successful. We do not have the time to risk another green deal—in other words, a programme that might look really good on paper, but that is as far as it goes.

The targets feel relatively feasible if the programmes are designed well and work well. If they do not work with this opportunity, we will not have that much time to try again.

Mark Ruskell

What is your consideration of the UKCCC’s advice on the opportunities for structural change through technical innovation? Are we still very much reliant on people making the right choice, because they have seen an electric vehicle on a forecourt or whatever?

Shane Donnellan

There is perhaps a tendency to do that, but people need to think that electric vehicles and so on are more efficient. We need to stop tweaking and start changing things.

To go back to your earlier question, change is inevitable. Society will change, but what that change looks like can be shaped. In Scotland, things are different from how they were in the 1980s and in the 1960s. Any number of factors can be at play, but strong leadership can shift what the change involves. If people really think about how they consume and how they contribute to emissions, that focus can be capitalised on.

Dr Howell

The UKCCC is thinking about feasibility in terms of what it can see a complete road map to, which I think is a mistake, because the landscape will change as we move. In my life, things that I thought would be unfeasible for me to do have become perfectly feasible because, as I have made changes, that has changed the landscape in which I make choices.

There are two different ideas about what feasibility means. There is what seems to be economically, psychologically or politically feasible and then there are the immutable laws of physics, which involve a totally different level of feasibility. It is infeasible to imagine that we will solve the problem of climate change if we do not set strong enough targets. That wall has a different quality of hardness and a different quality of impenetrability from the economic and political stuff. That is an absolute, whereas the economics and the politics will change.

If we have a strong enough narrative about why the end is net zero emissions by 2050 or whenever, we do not have to know the absolute and total detail of how we will get to the end. That will make things more feasible as we go.

The Convener

The green deal was mentioned. Did the fact that some companies that do cold calling jumped on the green deal affect people’s behaviour? I remember a good six months of not answering my home phone because of such calls. A well-meaning aspiration to have solar panels or whatever was hijacked, which affected public confidence. How should the Government improve public confidence in any new incentives to drive behaviour change so that they do not end up having the opposite effect?

Shane Donnellan

Joined-up thinking between local authorities and community organisations and strong leadership from the Government are needed. No one ever intends a big infrastructure project to fail. The green deal did not work, but that was no one’s intention—it was the result of systemic issues, such as things that had not been considered in the planning phase or aspects of the change that had not been prioritised.

We spoke about incentives. The green deal is an example of an incentive, but it did not work, because it was not considered in the wider context of all the other factors that contribute to someone’s decision. When things such as cold calling happen, the situation can run away and lose its purpose. Instead of being associated with accessing finance, the green deal was suddenly associated with cold calls, and that became its meaning.

A holistic approach is needed from day 1 that involves local authorities as well as the Government in creating a holistic plan. The word “holistic” can be a buzzword that is thrown around, but that is what we must come back to.

The Convener

People need to know that they can trust an initiative and that they will not be ripped off, which is what happened in a lot of cases. Does Citizens Advice have thoughts on that?

Jamie Stewart

Public trust in any programme that seems to be Government led is important. Consumer protection might be on the drier side of things, but it is important. If a company that is involved in a scheme does not treat a household right or provides a poor service, and if public confidence in the programme drops, the huge risk is that the message that the programme is not a good thing to do will spread by word of mouth. As I said, we do not have many opportunities to implement such changes. Having a body that is well trusted and having appropriate consumer protections is important.

The Convener

We have reached the end of our questions. I thank everyone on the panel for their time.

10:55 Meeting suspended.  



11:00 On resuming—  



The Convener

I am delighted to welcome our second panel of witnesses today, with whom we will look at governance in the context of the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill. I welcome Paul Gray, chief executive of NHS Scotland; Mai Muhammad, energy manager at Aberdeen City Council; Tom Thackray, director of infrastructure and energy at the Confederation of British Industry Scotland; and Chris Wood-Gee, chair of the sustainable Scotland network.

I have a general question about the role of the public and private sectors in driving the changes that it is incumbent on our society to make. What role can the public and private sectors play in supporting a wider range of low-carbon behaviour? I will take the public sector first and start with Paul Gray.

Paul Gray (NHS Scotland)

Thank you, convener. Before I respond to your question, if I do not have the facts that the committee wants to know, I am happy to provide a swift response after today’s meeting. I just wanted to make that offer.

The public sector has to demonstrate a degree of leadership, although that is not to say that the responsibility rests exclusively with the public sector. For example, when we procure new build or refurbishment, we have to be exemplary in our design and specification. The way that we use our public health initiatives to prompt people to take more exercise is not just about public health and improving the health of the population; it is also about reducing the use of motorised transport.

We need to help our staff understand what terms such as “climate change” and “reducing emissions”, which often sound like umbrella terms, really mean in practice. If the committee wishes to hear them, I have some examples of what we are doing in those areas. Would that be helpful?

The Convener

It would be very helpful.

Paul Gray

You mentioned governance, and we have established an NHS Scotland national energy forum and a national sustainability steering group. Those governance bodies are intended to review and manage national health service board requirements. The steering group, in particular, provides oversight and governance of sustainability issues, including public sector climate change reporting responsibilities. It also provides guidance to NHS boards on the production of reports so that we are reporting to a common standard.

We are also doing a lot with procurement. When our capital investment group reviews business cases and investment appraisals, it takes advice from Architecture and Design Scotland on any build or refurbishment elements of procurement. Unless and until the architects are satisfied that the sustainability elements of that procurement are sufficient, the business case will not be signed off, even if it meets other value-for-money or deliverability criteria. The sustainability elements of procurement are critical to getting to sign-off.

In September this year, we launched sustainability action branding and a campaign. Again, I can provide the committee with more detail but, in principle, that work highlights that all NHS staff, whether they are clinical, public health, management or estates, have a part to play in acting sustainably. Anyone who is working on a sustainability-related topic or wants to promote change can use the sustainability action toolkit that we have developed to promote their activities. Examples will be shared more widely as they are gathered.

Would you like more detail, or shall I pause there?

The Convener

It would be good to hear from Mai Muhammad on what Aberdeen City Council is doing, and what she feels local authorities have to offer in leading the charge.

Mai Muhammad (Aberdeen City Council)

I feel that Aberdeen is well placed, as far as local authorities are concerned, as we have several strategies running. For a start, we are piloting the Scottish Government-funded low-carbon heat and energy efficiency strategy, and we are looking at a pilot area where we can deliver low-carbon heat and energy efficiency on an area-wide basis. That very current example brings in the private sector as well as the local authority.

Internally, we have introduced a building energy performance policy that covers new build, especially new schools, where we are building for the next 40 years and are thinking about not only the children who are being taught today but those who will be taught in future. We are future proofing our buildings with regard to energy efficiency and the use of technology in that respect. As a result of the internal policies that we have introduced, every project has to go through a building performance checklist.

As part of our sustainable energy action plan, we have the city-wide powering Aberdeen strategy, in which we bring in the private sector in Aberdeen—which has not only a large oil and gas sector but small and medium-sized enterprises and other larger-scale businesses and investments—and ask what it can do about climate change and how the council can work with it on the matter. That is a key issue.

It is one thing to show that we are leading things, but it is also important that we take a partnership approach. I think that Aberdeen is doing well in that respect by doing a lot of engagement and having a lot of meetings that look at sustainability, low carbon and energy efficiency. It is a constant theme for us. We also have a well-established energy services company, Aberdeen Heat and Power, which delivers a district heating network. We are growing that business in the city.

We are already doing a lot with regard to putting climate change plans in place, but obviously we will have a lot more to do as a result of the bill. As with most of the public sector in Scotland, the public sector in the city owns a large portfolio of buildings, and we have a duty of care in ensuring that they are fit for the future in terms of not only energy performance but how they might be used. We need to think ahead about whether buildings will be used in the same way and, indeed, what they will be like in future.

We are one of the city’s largest employers, and one of our local outcome improvement plans focuses on “prosperous people”. The issue in that respect is how we develop a climate change strategy that benefits the people in the city of Aberdeen.

Finally, for the past two years, we have been reporting on carbon emissions through public bodies duties reporting, and we have been able to track our emissions profile over that time.

The Convener

Both of you lead large organisations that engage with the general public in a significant way. Are you encouraging or incentivising behaviour change in everything that can help us meet our targets? After all, you have contact with the majority of the populace as well as your employees.

Paul Gray

As the committee might be aware, we are in the process of establishing a new public health body that will bring together some of the responsibilities of NHS Health Scotland and NHS National Services Scotland, partly to improve our impact on and influence over population-level behaviour change.

However, there are also small things that we can do. For example, one health board—and, unless you press me, I would rather not say which, because I am sure that this is happening in more than one—has a sign in its bicycle park that says, more or less, “You bring your bike at your own risk, and if anything happens to it, that’s not our fault.” I am paraphrasing, of course, but we could encourage people to use bikes by providing a place where they can leave them in safety, giving them an opportunity to padlock them and so on instead of adopting what I would describe as quite a defensive attitude.

Something else that we have sought to do—with rather limited success so far, I have to say, but that does not mean that we will not keep trying—is to provide access to public transport so that people do not have to use their cars to get to hospitals and other facilities. I accept here and now that that has not yet been a resounding success, but we need to get better at it.

We also need to maximise the use of technology so that people do not have to travel to get access to health and care services. For example, people in Cumnock with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease—or heart and lung disease—have been provided with facilities that allow them to be treated from a distance. That means that they do not have to come to hospital, which not only is good for them but saves on travel and emissions.

As I said, our sustainability action plan has just been launched. Part of it is about providing people with supporting tools and programmes that allow boards to baseline themselves in terms of not just what they are doing with their buildings and the other infrastructure elements that I have mentioned but our overall progress with regard to the Scottish national performance framework and the United Nations sustainable development goals. That matters; NHS Scotland employs approximately 163,000 people in Scotland, which means that we have a huge reach with regard to both the people whom we treat and the people whom we employ, and if we are not demonstrating exemplary behaviours ourselves, it is quite hard for us to persuade the rest of the population when we say that they should take more exercise.

This is about being not only an exemplar employer but an exemplar in how we design and build things, and we could say more about how we are saving public funds by adopting more sustainable approaches to delivering services. For example, Girvan community hospital in the NHS Ayrshire and Arran area was designed to minimise environmental impact. Without going into too much detail—although I can, if the committee so wishes—I can tell you that there will be a 3 per cent reduction in Ayrshire and Arran’s CO2 emissions, simply because of what we have done in that one hospital. It is really important that the public understands that we are taking this seriously in the services that we provide and in the way that we design and build things.

The Convener

Of course, it is incumbent on not just the public sector to lead the charge on this, and I wonder what Tom Thackray has to say about what can be done to encourage behavioural change in the private sector and how it can work in partnership with the public sector to help the country meet its climate change targets.

Tom Thackray (Confederation of British Industry Scotland)

You have hit the nail on the head by saying that this is about partnership. The challenge of climate change is bigger than anything that can be met by either the public sector or the private sector on its own.

What are the mechanisms that we have put in place to enable businesses to invest in tackling climate change and in green initiatives? At the outset, I make it clear that the CBI members to whom we speak are instinctively positive about the climate change agenda and the need for ambitious targets. In that sense, the bill’s proposals for more ambitious targets are being met with enthusiasm, with businesses seeing an opportunity in that respect. Alongside Westminster, Scotland can play an important leadership role in driving that change.

However, CBI members would stress that the targets must be accompanied by a systems-wide policy regime that makes them achievable and affordable. At the moment, businesses see policy gaps that in some instances prevent them from playing that leadership role.

The Convener

Can you be more specific about that?

Tom Thackray

Absolutely. We have seen massive cuts in carbon emissions from the power sector over the past five years—indeed, even further back than that—whereas the emissions from the wider economy, including industry, buildings and transport, have largely been flat.

The policy agenda that has driven emissions reductions in the power sector has not been quite so evident elsewhere in the economy. There are still opportunities in the power sector. For example, providing a route to market for onshore wind and solar technologies through contracts for difference is one quick win that most businesses would be aligned in supporting. There is also an opportunity to provide certainty on the carbon price in the context of Brexit and the European Union emissions trading scheme. Those are the types of policy frameworks that really matter to businesses if they are to make investments that enable them to play a leadership role and bring their customers with them.

11:15  



The Convener

We heard from the previous panel about the need for consistency in incentives. Obviously, that is an issue for anyone who makes investments in the private or public sector. People need consistency in policies so that, for example, if they are investing in a wind turbine, they know that they will not be disadvantaged in a couple of years by a policy change. Do you agree with that?

Tom Thackray

That is absolutely fundamental. The time horizon for the targets is up to 2050, so policy certainty is needed. For example, the moment at which we transition towards electric vehicles must be set out far enough in advance to enable the companies that manufacture those vehicles to invest accordingly. That is a prime example of the importance of such certainty.

We have seen a lot of chopping and changing in the policy environment in recent years. I will give just one case in point. If we are looking to establish a more ambitious target for emissions reduction, as is proposed in the bill, carbon capture and storage will be absolutely fundamental to meeting that target. The support from the Westminster Government was withdrawn a few years ago and has not been rebuilt with the scale that is necessary if there is to be real progress in the area. As we look forward to policy decisions over the next few years, that is a gap that business would like to be addressed.

The Convener

Obviously, Chris Wood-Gee’s organisation has an overview and does not look at the public and private sectors in silos.

Chris Wood-Gee (Sustainable Scotland Network)

Yes. The SSN leads on the public sector climate change duties reporting. To reiterate Tom Thackray’s comment, the word that I scribbled down when you asked about the public and private sectors was “partnership”. If we want to build a building, we always have private sector partners in there. The relationship between the public and private sectors is crucial. The examples that we can garner and pull together through the climate change duties reporting help to build an evidence base that private and public sector bodies can dip into to understand what is possible in order to achieve the targets that we are heading towards.

The convener commented on consistency of support, which is crucial. We are on a long-term journey so, although support for doing things over a couple of years is really useful and we will do our level best to buy into that, with the best will in the world, some of the projects and activities that the public sector needs to achieve might take several years to set up. If only short-term support is available, you do not have the wherewithal to take forward those activities. You get part way through and think, “I can’t carry on with that.” We need long-term consistent support. We need to have good examples of what works and we need to know what does not work so that we can work in the right direction.

John Scott

I hear what you say about consistency of approach, and, coming from a business sector, I well understand that. However, given the vagaries of life, climate change, Government and political events that are not yet foreseen, should the phrase “consistency of approach” be substituted by “a consistent direction of travel” because, not unreasonably, things might change over time? Could that point about a consistent direction of travel and the possibility that things might change be factored into the targets? I do not know—I am slightly playing devil’s advocate.

Chris Wood-Gee

They are perhaps two sides of the same coin, to some extent. If we know where we are heading, we will have that consistency of approach, although the technology that goes with that will change as time goes on. Better carbon capture and storage is a prime example of that. I was always very sceptical about CCS, but having read a bit more about it, I think that it is a sensible approach: we have some big holes in the ground so we can put the carbon underground and get rid of it.

A direction of travel or strategic policy that people can follow is really important, regardless of whether they are in the public or private sector. I suspect that the private sector would like to be able to understand the consistent direction of travel as much as the public sector.

Tom Thackray

Setting the strategic direction in the long term, ensuring that it does not change and is consistent, regardless of political colour or perspective, with more granularity in the expectations for each sector, would go a long way towards providing a bit more certainty for business.

John Scott

I agree.

Mark Ruskell

To what extent is the planning system delivering that strategic focus on carbon reduction, particularly in the way in which we plan our places? For example, if Paul Gray is planning a new hospital or a CBI member is planning a new industrial estate, are you building in opportunities for low-carbon transport, district heating and so on? To what extent are such things embedded in the planning system and is that delivering the certainty that we need around how we create low-carbon places for the future? Are you engaging with that?

Mai Muhammad

I can respond from the perspective of Aberdeen City Council. Planning has a huge role to play in influencing infrastructure, whether buildings or services. I find it frustrating that we are not given enough power to be able to say to a developer that it must put in, for example, district heating network infrastructure and that before anything else is built, it must consider the carbon value of the services that it will provide. We do not ask those questions; the only questions we ask are: “What does your building look like?”, “What is the footprint?” and “What buses will you put on?” That does not take it to the next level, which is where we need to be.

We need to consider digital infrastructure and future proofing how we service it. We do not want to keep digging up roads over and over again—we have that a lot in the council. We also need to consider the type of homes that we allow people to build. The current planning guidelines do not make space for innovation. The powers that we have are quite limited.

I hope that in the next 10 to 20 years, a transformational change will happen in how we deliver health, education and business services and how we think about people living in the same space, whether in an urban, rural or community environment. Today, that is not cohesive. A step change is required for us to get to where we want to be in 2050. There is still a lot of work to do.

Planning has a big role to play and I would love to engage with that. Putting energy infrastructure into the design early doors is key, whether for a hospital or any other development. If the building is up, it is already too late. We are always trying to retrofit, and it costs a lot more money to retrofit any type of business—manufacturing, industry, hotels, services, hospitals—than it would cost to put money into the design today.

It would be helpful if the Government could support us—whether through funding or other means—to get that message across.

Tom Thackray

When public bodies commission services from the private sector, one of the things that prevents such innovative dialogue and the coming together of more partners is the tendency of some of those bodies to procure on the basis of lowest cost, rather than to take a long-term view and look for innovation. For many of our members, that is the major bugbear in relation to public sector bodies.

Inconsistency of approach is also an issue. We accept that different areas have different priorities and that businesses can respond to that, but if public bodies use different processes and approaches, it takes time for businesses to learn the unique features of each area.

Claudia Beamish

I have a brief question for Mai Muhammad, but others are welcome to comment.

The Planning (Scotland) Bill is going through Parliament at the moment, and some of us have lodged probing amendments about future proofing the planning structures for large infrastructure projects. I am not asking you to design an amendment right now, but what would be a robust and good way of setting those at the Scottish Government level to enable that to happen while, at the same time, we give local authorities the respect that they deserve and enable them to shape the future of their communities?

Mai Muhammad

The statutory obligations that local authorities will have with regard to the local heat energy efficiency strategy, which is part of the energy efficiency route map, should be taken into account in any future planning legislation. It is important to understand how the council and its partner communities can make a place better—in terms of living space, service provision, transport and so on. Things are not linked up well at the moment; everything seems to be in silos, with different strategies dealing with different things separately. For example, planning deals with green space, transport and so on but does not deal so much with energy efficiency and how a low-carbon approach might impact on the future use of an area. For example, when I engage with colleagues on flooding risk, I try to promote an understanding of the importance of the way in which we build our buildings for their ability to take on the impacts of climate change—I might ask what they are doing about that, given that the climate is getting warmer. I do that because I have not yet seen a newly built school whose design considered that.

Such issues are not taken into account at the early stages, and they are not included in any of the planning requirements. If the bill took all of those impacts into account, we would be in a better place from which to move forward than we are just now.

Angus MacDonald

Both the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee in the previous session of Parliament and this committee have placed a strong emphasis on public sector reporting. The majority of our reporting bodies agree that mandatory climate change reporting is welcome, and they say that it has helped them to build on climate change action. To what extent is public sector reporting effecting real change across the public sector and beyond?

Chris Wood-Gee

It is starting to work. Local authorities have been going through the climate change declaration report since about 2007, and the mandatory report is now into its third full year. Getting the information together takes quite a lot of work, but it helps us to understand what we are doing across the whole of the public sector, which is crucial.

The process will need tweaking. We have worked with it for long enough to understand what the good bits are and where there are opportunities to improve it. It might be good for the Scottish Government to consider that.

It is important that we continue to report so that we can continue to develop an understanding of where we are going. In the past, there was the carbon reduction commitment, but it involved only gas and electricity and did not look at the whole picture. What is really good about the climate change reports is that they look at what individual organisations are doing in terms of emissions in buildings and wider emissions and how the governance works in various organisations. That enables us to learn from the people who are doing it best, so that we can all head in the same direction.

It is quite a lot of work, but I think that it is worth while and that you will get a lot more out of it as our datasets develop and we start to interrogate them, find the best things that are happening and make best use of the information that we secure.

11:30  



Paul Gray

I hold strongly to the view that public services are publicly accountable and therefore there should be no resistance to reporting. It might be difficult and complicated and we might not have all the data, but there should not be resistance to reporting, because we are accountable to the public whom you are elected to serve.

However, there are also positive advantages to reporting. We can baseline and see the differences between different bodies. Some differences can be explained, but some cannot, and if one body’s energy efficiency is 25 per cent better than another’s and they have roughly the same estate and footprint, that exposes something that we can quickly begin to look at and tackle. If one public body is far ahead of many others, we can look at whether there are examples that we could follow. Clearly, we cannot begin to knock down buildings and replace them with new ones ad hoc, but it means that we have a basis for looking at best practice when we are planning.

The points that have been made about partnership with the private sector are important in that context because, in respect of capital infrastructure, we are more likely to be engaging with different parts of the private sector on civil engineering, implementing digital services or whatever, and it would be good to have some baselines that show the best of the best. However, as Mr Scott said earlier, it is also about forward trajectories and using our baseline not just for what we are doing now but to plan ahead for where we would like to be in five, 10, 15 or 20 years.

Therefore, there are probably areas in which reporting will be difficult and might expose people like me to criticism, but I do not think that that makes it wrong. It is essential that we do reporting thoroughly and in a public way so that it is meaningful and we can compare.

Claudia Beamish

I want to follow up on what Paul Gray and Chris Wood-Gee have highlighted in relation to the public sector climate change duties, which we all know are now mandatory. The process was difficult, but that is where we are and I believe that it is the right place to be. It has been difficult for some smaller organisations and, indeed, some larger ones—without naming and shaming—to get to where they should be, although there has been a lot of progress. To what degree does Paul Gray, Chris Wood-Gee or anyone else on the panel think that there is a place for penalties once the process has bedded in? Paul Gray gave the example of bodies with similar building estates doing different things. We can have warnings, but is there a place for penalties?

Paul Gray

Maybe, but let me say what I think.

Claudia Beamish

I am asking it neutrally.

Paul Gray

Absolutely. I entirely accept the question, which is a fair and reasonable one. Let me put it like this: we have been retrofitting some of our energy centres to take advantage of the latest energy efficiency technologies. A recent example is what we did with our three main acute sites in Tayside. The work was procured under an energy performance contract, so there was no up-front cost to the board, and we put in the latest combined heat and power technology at Ninewells and two other sites. We have saved over 12,700 tonnes of CO2, which is equivalent to almost 30 per cent of Tayside’s total energy emissions.

What does that have to do with penalties? In my mind, the point is that we are saving CO2 emissions and also saving money, and I can give a similar example from NHS Lothian, where the savings have been quantified at £2.7 million in addition to the efficiency savings and so forth. Therefore, I would start with the positive advantages and say, “Look, here are some examples of health boards that have been able to reduce their carbon emissions and save money.”

However, there comes a point at which I might say to health boards, “You know what? You’ve had five years to think about this, so we’re going to set your budgets on the basis that you will make these savings.” Is that a penalty? Let me put it this way: there is a big incentive to make the saving, but there has to come a point at which there is no incentive to avoid making it. That is how I would look at the matter.

Richard Lyle

There are 32 councils in Scotland and many other public bodies—indeed, too many to mention. In its submission, Aberdeen City Council calls for stronger public body duties with a desire to see strengthened frameworks for and expectations on leadership, accountability, target setting, action planning and reporting across other tiers of the public sector. What would that mean in practice? Perhaps Aberdeen can answer the question first.

Mai Muhammad

I will try to answer it as best I can. Having mandatory duties is well and good—they help to establish a baseline and allow you either to see how you are performing in a standalone way or to compare your performance—but what do the information and data mean for improvement? We have already talked about penalties, but perhaps we should look at why other authorities are not making reductions and give them the necessary assistance to improve things. Penalties might not help with that, because they arise as a result of monitoring and might well not resolve the issue.

We believe that accountability and leadership are very important in anything to do with climate change and energy efficiency. We need clear direction and consistency across the different council departments, with everyone understanding where the issue sits. If one department, whether planning or another, takes on the delivery of climate change reporting, you can get almost a silo effect, and if others are simply feeding in numbers, there is no accountability. We do not have the answers to these questions yet—they need some development—but who should have ultimate responsibility for the information that is submitted and who should monitor whether improvement is being made? Should it be up to, say, the sustainable Scotland network to assess what happens to those who are underperforming? That is where we are coming from.

Therefore, we see the issue slightly differently. With the carbon reduction commitment, a lot of people make their reports and pay for the carbon—and that is it for the year. Because there are no incentives, penalties or whatever, the scheme has not delivered what it initially set out to deliver, and what is proposed might go down the same route. I know that the CRC is changing, but we just do not want the proposal in the bill to be in the same situation as the CRC.

Chris Wood-Gee

We need to improve the governance side of things. There are examples of good political leadership, and there is good leadership from senior management, but sometimes delivery sits so far down the organisation that that leadership does not get the whole way through, and it is really important that that happens. One of the key benefits of reporting is that we can pick up and share good examples that people can learn from; or, where there are weaknesses, we can speak to people who are doing the job right and find out what does and does not work. Disseminating the information and ensuring that everyone understands what works and what does not work are as big a job as putting the numbers down.

It is clear that some organisations have not done so well at delivering the reports, but there has been some good experience of sharing—indeed, I think that the NHS has helped another organisation get up to speed. There has been a natural inclination across the public sector to share experience, to find out what does and does not work and—I hope—to use the best examples to go forward as effectively as we can.

Richard Lyle

What is your view of leadership structures, the commitment to delivery across the public sector and communicating a vision through strategic planning in organisations? Do we have clear route maps for what is required of the public and private sector and are those translated for all areas of organisations?

Chris Wood-Gee

We probably do not have those yet. We are on a journey. Mai Muhammad mentioned local heat energy efficiency strategies, which will be a mechanism that we use to get an understanding across local authorities of where we need to go and how different partners in those areas tie into the process. We are heading in the right direction, but we are not quite there yet; it is a learning experience. However, reporting gives us a means of recording where we are and where we need to get to in the future.

Richard Lyle

What is the panel’s view of the governance body model that is proposed by the climate change plan?

Paul Gray

I will give the committee some credit. One of the things that being invited to appear before the committee prompted me to do was to go back and look at the extent to which the issues that we are discussing today have been discussed at chief executive level in the NHS. The simple fact is that these issues are not discussed very often—but that is not never and does not mean that such issues are not discussed at the boards at chief executive level.

I have a monthly meeting with the chief executives of all the health boards, and I have asked that, at this month’s meeting, on 14 November, the Official Report of today’s meeting, the background papers and ancillary documentation be put on the agenda.

To respond to Mr Lyle’s point, I would say that we have reasonably sound governance in the NHS—it is not something that will come in the future; it is happening now and has been in place since 2015. Our sustainability action campaign and branding was launched in September. We are taking action and we can point to some of the benefits of that.

However, I want to assure myself that the health boards, collectively, are taking action that is consistent and that they are considering the partnership options available, so that we are not taking a silo approach. The very fact that the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee is taking an interest is useful in prompting leadership action.

The Convener

Does anyone have any points to make in response to Dick Lyle’s other question on the governance arrangements?

Tom Thackray

I have one point to make, not on the public reporting side but on the private sector practice. We buy into the idea that what gets measured gets changed. In the spirit of reporting, that is a positive direction of travel, particularly if that conversation is being held at board level rather than just at the delivery function level in a business.

When it comes to reporting, the business experience is that sometimes we can become less transparent by reporting on more things. There is a question about the profligacy of things that businesses are asked to report on, whether it gives more transparency and accountability for consumers and whether we are reporting in a way that enables consumers to interact with that conversation. That question is as much for the public sector reporting side as it is for the private sector.

Finally, as I said previously, we need to consider whether we are incentivising the behaviours in different parts of industries that will deliver on those plans at the level of the strategic, long-term targets. The bill goes further than before in making that clear. However, the granular plans for what is required of industry, year to year, on a sector-by-sector basis, have not yet been drawn up. A dialogue needs to take place between the Government and industry to make that happen.

Richard Lyle

Before I ask you this question, Tom, I point out that I am not having a pop at you. Do CBI members have any concerns about climate change having an effect on their profits?

Tom Thackray

It depends on which members you are talking about. By the way, the question does not feel like a pop—it seems perfectly valid. The most common response that we get from people who want to talk to the CBI about climate change is that they recognise that becoming more innovative in green technology is a business opportunity rather than a business risk.

11:45  



Richard Lyle

Climate change and new technology could mean more profit.

Tom Thackray

They could, although there are obvious caveats to that. Businesses operate in a global marketplace. If they are in an energy-intensive industry, for example, and operate on a global basis and their competition is in China or India, which are not subject to the same regulatory regimes as we are, and that kind of enterprise is very mobile, there are immediate challenges with some climate change initiatives. However, those are not insurmountable. If there is a long-term policy framework that enables businesses to adjust and if we couple the domestic ambition with international diplomacy that helps other countries to meet those standards, we have a good chance of appealing to that segment of the business community as well.

Richard Lyle

Thank you.

Mark Ruskell

Going back to public sector governance, there is mandatory reporting, sharing of good practice and nudging each other along, but what about carbon budgeting? Aberdeenshire Council sets a carbon budget and links actions to targets and the reduction of carbon emissions from its assets and services. That is reported against each year and is linked to the financial budget, so what the council is spending and commissioning is linked to that. Is anything done in the organisations that you represent, beyond seeing how they are doing, that feeds into the budgeting and explicit financial planning?

Mai Muhammad

As you say, Aberdeenshire Council has been carbon budgeting for a few years, whereas Aberdeen City Council felt that we did not have adequate resources to do that. We looked at presentations, but we felt that we did not have the skills or resourcing to deliver proper carbon budgeting that linked to our financial reports. That, in itself, is quite resource intensive—I have spoken to some of those who are doing that—because it is almost like another piece of financial reporting that has to link, as you say, to different budget lines and so on.

We decided to approach the matter in a more traditional way. We felt that, if we could forecast well, set a budget for energy and reduce our energy spend, our carbon spend should also reduce. The remit for monitoring that work falls to my team. We ensure that it happens and that it is reported—that the governance is there—and I need to explain any increases. That is where the climate change reporting sometimes fails to pick things up. For instance, the absolute figures do not reflect how we use a building, weather patterns, occupational changes and that kind of thing. We feel that it is sometimes difficult to put that information in a financial report because it does not take all those numbers into account; it deals with absolute figures and asks, for example, why we are up 3 per cent for whatever it is.

Although carbon budgeting is good, it sometimes might not capture the reasons why we are not meeting our targets and why our consumption has gone up that year, or whatever, as well as the actions that need to be taken to manage that. That is why Aberdeen City Council has decided to focus on reducing energy consumption through specific measures or actions, or on delivering projects that do that. Of course, we have to report on that through the existing governance route.

Paul Gray

The issue falls into the category of “Just because it’s hard, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about it”. We would never do anything hard if we did not want to think about it.

I will make two offers to the committee, if I may. First, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport has committed to publishing a capital investment strategy by the end of this financial year, and I think we should reflect on that in thinking about how we might describe our strategy and how that might relate to carbon budgeting.

Secondly, although in principle I am here in my role as NHS Scotland’s chief executive, I would be happy as a member of the Scottish Government’s corporate board to get a brief note to the committee on the Scottish Government’s current position on carbon budgeting, if that would be helpful.

The Convener

That would be helpful.

Claudia Beamish

Are there any views on the public sector governance body model that is proposed in the climate change plan? Has that come across any of the panellists’ desks? Perhaps it is too early to say, because it has just been reported for the first time that the stakeholder engagement has raised a significant number of questions. We do not have time to go into those questions today, but I wonder about your comments more broadly.

Paul Gray

I should have been clearer in my response to Mr Lyle. I intend to discuss with NHS board chief executives how that governance body aligns—or not—with our governance arrangements, the merits of the proposal and how it would work with what we have. I confess to being keen not to dismantle something that we have had in place only since 2015 unless there is clear evidence that we could be doing something better. Again, I would be happy after that meeting—which will be fairly soon—to come back to the committee with better-formed views, having had an opportunity to discuss the issue.

Claudia Beamish

The Scottish Government responded to our committee by saying that “the final Plan”—that is, the climate change plan—

“sets out the key functions of the Governance Body which will oversee the implementation and monitoring of the ... Plan”.

It is important that we will have a monitoring body and that there is buy-in to that. I perhaps should have said that the body will go beyond the public sector, to the private sector and all sectors. Have the panellists any further comments to make about whether that has come to their attention?

Chris Wood-Gee

I am probably not sufficiently up to speed to make a meaningful and detailed comment, but it makes sense to have a governance body that is formally tied in. I have read about the issue, but I cannot pull it to the front of my mind. It will be useful to have the governance that we need at the appropriate levels.

Mai Muhammad

I have not read the proposal fully, so I cannot comment on it in its totality. I agree that governance should overarch the private and public sectors and that there must be some consistency in reporting, with clear definition that defines clearly what we monitor and evaluate and what the output is from that.

A lot of responsibility for reporting is being put on the public sector at the moment. I am not saying that the private sector is behind, but there is a lot of catching up to do. A proper governance route with a level playing field would be fairer for us. Even in the public sector and the NHS, the functions may be slightly different from those of local government. Therefore, I would like to see overarching governance with a level playing field.

John Scott

I was interested to hear Paul Gray say that he will be meeting chief executives to discuss the matter further, not having discussed it hugely until now. That was a candid and welcome statement. In that context, does he think that there is more room to achieve targets voluntarily rather than by regulation? We have heard people propose that the only future is for everything to be legislated for and driven in that way, because a voluntary approach will not deliver.

Paul Gray

Since 1990, the energy consumption of NHS Scotland’s estate has reduced by over 38 per cent and its greenhouse gas emissions have reduced by over 49 per cent. Those figures are well ahead of the national targets. Therefore, it is possible to make good progress and not simply aim at the targets as though they are a limit. They can be exceeded.

There remains considerable willingness to do better, but it is equally the case that the future is more challenging and many of the quick wins have already been taken into account.

You asked whether we ought to go for more mandation. My safe answer to that is that it is clearly a matter for the Parliament. However, my other answer, which has partly been given to other committee members, is that there is evidence that more is possible, that change has happened and that savings have been secured when boards have invested meaningfully. The most recent example from NHS Lothian—among many others—has been delivered at no net cost to the board. In other words, NHS Lothian has improved its performance on emissions and efficiency with no net cost to it from doing so.

For me, the path must be ensuring that the best practice is clear and exemplified. As I said in a previous response, there should be an incentive in the system to follow best practice and a disincentive not to do so. However, because some of our buildings were designed for 25-year and 30-year use, the capacity to retrofit is limited. Therefore, we also have to ask ourselves what mandation would produce. For example, if an improvement in energy efficiency was mandated, that would be delivered most readily in newer buildings or new builds, so there would be a disproportionate skewing. That said, Girvan community hospital—which I gave as an example—has delivered a 3 per cent reduction in NHS Ayrshire and Arran’s overall CO2 emissions through actions on one site.

Before I gave a view, I would want to understand what mandation would really mean and what it would produce. If it produced simply a lot of perverse incentives, it could take us off the trajectory that we are on and on to something else. We would also need to engage closely with our partners in the private sector to understand what they could deliver, because there would be no point in mandating something that could not be delivered.

John Scott

I am interested in hearing from Tom Thackray, as well.

Tom Thackray

I would go along with that entirely. My comments at the outset were about how we could make targets affordable and achievable. A strict regulatory approach at the headline level is probably not the way to secure the investment that is needed to make those swift gains.

On a more granular, case-by-case basis, the private sector is very much up for a dialogue with public sector partners on how we can improve the regulatory landscape so that it encourages investment. A good example of that is in building standards in Germany. The German house building industry has partnered with the German Government to set standards. Basically, they are writing the building standards for the BRICS countries—Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. That is a massive export opportunity born out of a regulatory approach in which the private sector and the public sector work together.

That approach is also evident in things such as disruptive technology—for example, drone maintenance of wind turbines. Currently, the regulatory approach does not enable businesses to invest in such areas, but with the right partnership with the public sector that could become possible.

John Scott

I have a related but different question about the targets. To what extent does the 90 per cent by 2050 target in the bill provide a clear long-term marker for driving investment, innovation and change? Would making the target net zero emissions increase that drive? Is it easier to communicate and achieve buy-in for a target of net zero? Should we be going for net zero, or are you happy with the 90 per cent target? Which is easier to sell?

12:00  



Tom Thackray

I repeat the same answer—we are after achievability and affordability. There is a lot of talk about net zero at the moment, and businesses want to be in that dialogue. If the climate science says that we should go for a net zero target, let us have a conversation about what policies we need to put in place to reach that. However, would we not rather set things that we will achieve than set things for which we do not at this stage have the scientific backing of the Committee on Climate Change, although it is looking at that now? That is the first point of call, so let us wait until we get the evidence back from it. Then, let us acknowledge that, as I said in my opening remarks, there are significant policy gaps in achieving current targets. We need to fill those gaps to meet 90 per cent, and we will need to go even further to meet net zero. There needs to be some realism along with ambition.

John Scott

Do others want to comment on that?

Paul Gray

I agree whole-heartedly that we should go where the evidence points us, but there is also an important point about our ability to be internationally influential. We spoke about how other countries have different regulatory frameworks that could be disadvantageous for some of our commercial activities. If we wish to be influential, it will be hugely important that we are pursuing targets that are demonstrably world leading. I do not have the scientific knowledge to opine whether that should be a 90 per cent reduction or net zero emissions.

However, the more we do that can be exemplified publicly—by which I mean not just by the public sector but by the private sector—the more influential we will be elsewhere in the world when we are talking about the trade terms that we might want. There is a clear diplomatic advantage in thinking carefully about what stance we want to take and what position we want to represent.

Stewart Stevenson

One approach would be to start today and aim for 2050 with a straight-line reduction, which is kind of what we are doing. Alternatively, if we did nothing until one day before the target in 2050, we would still meet the target but we would emit twice the amount of greenhouse gas in that period. The two triangles on the graph are the same. The intermediate targets are, therefore, designed to take us on the line, rather than to postpone.

However, there is a huge advantage to the agenda of early action that reduces the amount of carbon and other greenhouse gases that are emitted. Carbon, in particular, endures in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, so the less we put out there, the better. What are we doing to help that agenda, or is that too difficult? Chris Wood-Gee is nodding.

Chris Wood-Gee

It is very difficult. It will be hugely challenging. In the new targets that are coming out of the climate change bill, the public sector was looking at something like 96 per cent decarbonisation in the first iteration—it was ambitious, challenging and probably impossible. Where we are now at 53 per cent is still ambitious and challenging, but it gives us something to work towards. It is working from live figures, as well, rather than baselines, although those are useful. It is—

Stewart Stevenson

I am sorry—we will probably come back to this, but I am asking a very narrow question so that we can make progress. Is there scope for your organisations to do better than the line that is currently being sought?

Chris Wood-Gee

Potentially. It depends on how far along the organisation is. A lot of organisations have hit all the low-hanging fruit; others have further to go on that. There are still good opportunities to take, but we need to take those opportunities and work on it.

Stewart Stevenson

Let us rattle along and see whether others say the same thing.

Mai Muhammad

Although the private sector is concerned about the cost of going towards net zero and a 90 per cent reduction by 2050, it is important to understand that the financial modelling that we are doing looks purely at the cost of it; the modelling is not putting a value on the benefits. How do you quantify the health benefits, for instance, and how do you project the value of those to 2050? How do you measure the health implication and the savings that can be achieved in health services? It is unfair just to ask whether it is financially viable today. We need to include in the financial modelling other sectors that can benefit, particularly health. That is a key point.

The cost of technology today may be prohibitive for whatever reason and that may inhibit innovation. This is where Government has a role to play. For the early adopters, there has been the low-carbon infrastructure transition programme—LCITP—and so on, but we need to have more of these programmes that encourage innovation and we need industry to be excited to be part of it. If the Government puts out very small pots of money for innovation schemes that may be limited to the public sector, I think that it limits innovation. If there is more encouragement of the early adopters to try to push and accelerate innovation in the next 10 years, the technology that we thought would be too expensive may be viable. That is key. Today, there is just enough being done to encourage that innovation. If we encourage more, we can get the benefits of that innovation in 2040 and 2050.

The other key point is digitalisation. A lot more work can be done on how we deliver services that way and there are huge opportunities there that will help us to achieve our targets. It is about how we deliver services differently and that step change I spoke about earlier. It is key to do that. To make sure that it is transformational change, we need to think differently about how we do things. I think that we can achieve that change by doing these things.

Mark Ruskell

We have had tranches of private finance initiatives and public-private partnerships in the past and we have had new public sector financing models since then, such as the hubco model. Do those models incentivise the reduction of carbon, energy efficiency, the best technology and the best solutions? Are there issues in how we procure assets and contracts and deliver buildings and other services in a way that perhaps does not deliver the best carbon value for society?

Paul Gray

That is a good question. I do not know the whole answer to it, but I will say this. Before our capital investment group, which I mentioned earlier, signs off a business case or investment appraisal, certain standards need to be made, and it has not been put to me in any of the things that I have been asked to sign off that the non-profit-distributing model or the hubco model is somehow inimical to meeting the targets. The question that I do not have a sufficient answer to, although I am happy to get the information for the committee, is to what extent those models are driving innovation. In other words, I am saying that they are not getting in the way of innovation, but you are asking whether they are driving it. I will check on that so that I can give a factual answer to the committee.

Mai Muhammad

Councils across Scotland have looked at the NDEEF, which is the non-domestic energy efficiency framework. It is a way of procuring energy efficiency works in retrofits as well as potentially new builds. We find that, because there is a monitoring and verification duty placed on the contractors, there is a good learning curve. Such a responsibility after the completion of the build was never put in place in previous PFI and PPP contracts—basically, the contractor designed, built and walked away. There were different contracts, such as design, build, finance and maintain, or just design and build.

Having a monitoring and verification process as part of the non-domestic energy efficiency framework is important, because the contractor has to prove over 12 or 24 months, that it has delivered on the calculations for the carbon saving and energy efficiency measures that it has installed—whether that is innovation or technology led. That is a huge improvement for local authorities. It gives us a method and governance route. We can use the contract to say, “Mr Contractor, you haven’t delivered.” The contractor needs to prove that it has delivered. That verification and monitoring process needs to be part of the contract, rather than an add-on at the end.

Tom Thackray

I would like to repeat a point that I made earlier. The broad perception of industry when engaging in PPPs is that, more often than not, businesses are competing on cost, rather than value. We did a survey over the summer that bears that out, showing that 60 to 65 per cent feel that that is the case. I would be happy to share the results of that with the committee.

When we speak to public authorities, a lot of blame is shifted towards European public procurement regulations but, in reality, contracting authorities have a lot more flexibility than they realise. Brexit might give us an opportunity to examine that in greater depth and start to tackle some of those challenges for business.

John Scott

Unsurprisingly, I want to deal with the costs of the bill. The financial memorandum suggests that additional costs of around £13 billion will be faced between 2030 and 2050. However, it does not outline on whom those costs fall, who should meet them, or the timescales in which they will be incurred. What economic modelling of the costs and benefits of mitigating and adapting to climate change has been carried out by your organisations? How much investment by the private sector could be expected to accompany the costs? What do you think about your share of the £13 billion of costs?

Chris Wood-Gee

One of the challenges that we all face is that energy inflation tends to be significantly higher than the retail prices index. For example, the advice from the Scottish Government on gas prices is that, over the next two years, they will rise by 18 per cent compared to the RPI at 3 per cent. Although we might make savings by taking action, we will not necessarily be getting cash savings—the carbon will go down, but the cash might not. When we talk about investing massive amounts of money, that is very challenging.

One of the questions that have been raised through the climate change process is how we get the money together to do all this. The local authority sector—and I am sure that this is also true of the health boards—is very financially challenged in that respect. The issue will be where the money should be invested: is it for education, social care or carbon? I do not know the answer to that.

It is very difficult to get climate change high enough up the agenda. It makes sense to do it and we all understand the health benefits of a better climate and fewer heat problems and so on, but one of the biggest questions about the whole agenda is how we deliver it financially.

John Scott

What are the views of the other witnesses? We know that it is going to be difficult.

12:15  



Tom Thackray

The energy cost dynamic that Chris Wood-Gee described should be an incentive for private sector companies to invest more, so it is interesting that there is market failure. We can look at the energy prices and say that such companies should be investing, but before the situation becomes critical, the private sector, except in some industries, needs to be nudged in that direction, whether that is in the form of best-practice campaigns or showing what works.

On the more negative side, I am not sure whether the £13 billion figure takes into account the changing tax base that comes with the changes. For example, if we move to using electric vehicles and less money comes in from fuel duty, how will that play out in the public finances? We need to have a much broader conversation about how the economy will be financed in 12 years’ time, and we need to have it fairly quickly.

John Scott

We are unclear—at least, I am unclear; maybe others are not—how the £13 billion figure has been arrived at. Nonetheless, even if the figure is open to variation, if the scale of the costs to be incurred is somewhere between £10 billion and £15 billion, how are we to afford it? I expect Paul Gray to have the answer. [Laughter.]

Paul Gray

Thank you, Mr Scott. In 2018, we are as far away from 1986 as we are from 2050. If you had asked in 1986 what the technologies of today would be, some people would have got it right and many would have got it wrong. One of the issues is that we are trying to imagine what the world will be like in 2050 in order to make the estimates. The significance of the £13 billion figure is simply that it is not easy. As you said rightly, the figure could be £10 billion or £15 billion, but it will not be £0.5 million. The issue is significant and it will require thought.

What I can tell you is that, if the national electricity and gas grids were fully decarbonised, for example, that would save us the cost of retrofitting our energy infrastructure in order for there to be net zero carbon to the tune of £300 million. Of course, that rests on two assumptions. One is that the grids are decarbonised and the other is that all the infrastructure that would need to be retrofitted will still be here in five years’ time. Clearly, some it will not be here.

It is possible to make calculations about the costs. The risk is the calculations being based on the world in 2050 simply being what it is now, but decarbonised. That is not a realistic future to imagine. The way in which we deliver services, the way in which people travel and the way in which they think about their health and their lives will all be very different from how that is done now.

However, there are some imperatives. For example, if temperatures rise over time to the extent that they could do, there will be an increase in the prevalence of what are called vector-borne diseases associated with species migration—in English, species will come to this country that are not here now, and they will carry diseases with them, which will have an impact on the population. Therefore, it is not just about the £13 billion figure, plus or minus; it is about what it will cost not to take action. Clearly, even if Scotland were the world-leading exemplar, other countries would need to follow in train, as vector-borne diseases would not stop at Carlisle. Again, I go back to the point about being nationally and internationally influential in the way in which we approach the issue.

Calculations can be done, but they have a very big confidence interval. If we are serious about tackling climate change, we will need to plan for it and plan for affording it. If we are not willing to do that, the implications and impacts will be much more profound than whether we can afford to run a health service. They will affect the whole population. That is a partial answer to the question.

Claudia Beamish

Last weekend, I was in Aberdeen, where I saw for the first time—not that I have never been to Aberdeen before; my gran was from there, so I know it well—the scale of the oil supply ships and other parts of the industry. In respect of low carbon, I was heartened to see turbines ready to be taken out to the bay for use by the offshore industry.

On the bill’s targets, Aberdeen City Council’s submission says:

“How compatible these targets are with those of our present economy; there is still a heavy emphasis on fossil fuel sectors.”

You may know of a recent University of Aberdeen report that models the potential of Scotland’s offshore industry to 2050. It estimates that the equivalent of 17 billion barrels of oil could still be extracted. The industry has a well-educated and well-paid workforce. How does maximising economic recovery for the industry fit in with reducing carbon emissions—if, indeed, it does? If it does not, what of the just transition for workers?

I do not know who wants to answer.

The Convener

Tom Thackray is the obvious person to answer the question.

Claudia Beamish

The witness from Aberdeen City Council could answer, too.

Tom Thackray

There is huge expertise and supply chain capability in the oil and gas industry that needs to be celebrated. There needs to be a managed transition as we get the most out of the resources that we have. The Scottish and Westminster Governments and the industry need to have an honest conversation about that.

There are massive opportunities in new forms of energy generation that are particularly relevant to Scotland. We know the prowess of the wind companies here, and there are supply chain opportunities.

There has to be a transition; I think that the industry accepts that. We are not yet exploiting the new generation capability that we have for renewables, particularly because we do not have the routes to market through, for example, the CFD. If signals on that are sent early enough, that would enable industry to invest, which could pick up some of the slack in the overall economy. A signal of change to the CFD would be critical for the UK generally, but for Scotland specifically.

Claudia Beamish

Is there robust conversation about that in the CBI?

Tom Thackray

Yes, there is, and we are making representations to all parts of Government to make sure that it happens.

Claudia Beamish

What is the perspective in Aberdeen? We are running out of time, so you will need to be brief.

Mai Muhammad

I will try to respond quickly to your—

Claudia Beamish

It is such a momentous question for your city.

Mai Muhammad

Indeed it is. As you will have seen from the supply ships in Aberdeen, the oil and gas industry is still there, although it is currently in a downturn. New fields have been discovered, but we must take cognisance of the fact that there is a large cost of taking out, refining and supplying the gas, or whatever. On top of that is the carbon issue and all the other associated costs.

In Aberdeen, we are, as you know, trying to diversify, but we can use the same skill set; the skills are transferable. We are looking at the offshore wind industry, we are developing a new harbour and we are looking to expand other industries. We are not moving away from our history, but we want to use existing skills to develop other economies.

We are still trying to be at the forefront in being an energy city. Hydrogen is a huge step for us: we are developing heavily in hydrogen and putting in a lot of infrastructure, for which we have secured a lot of European funding. We are almost running a parallel economy, so that we are ready for the transition. We do not want to reach a cliff edge at which many skilled people suddenly have no job. We are ready.

As part of the local heat and energy efficiency strategy that we are putting together, we have an implementation plan and we are looking at improving insulation, installing district heating, putting external wall insulation in our buildings, removing air conditioning units and using air-source heat pumps. That is creating a market that the private sector and industry can consider entering.

The point of an LHEES is to identify projects. There is a cost attached to their delivery but, equally, there is a market opportunity. That is particularly the case in the north-east, given that companies that deliver such things are not based in the north-east or readily available there. When we go out to procurement tender we find that a lot of the skills in energy efficiency are held in central Scotland.

There is therefore an opportunity for Aberdeen to develop a training industry that encourages energy efficiency. That is the transition that I envisage. Oil and gas will still be in there, but we need to understand that there are other markets that can use the transferable skills, particularly in energy efficiency, renewables and hydrogen. There are massive opportunities.

Claudia Beamish

District heating is already available, through Aberdeen Heat and Power Company Ltd.

Mai Muhammad

That is correct. We need to expand on what we do best. We have an established workforce and skill set, so Aberdeen is attractive to investors. That is the way forward.

The Convener

We must move on.

Mark Ruskell

In the private sector, the services sector has struggled to reduce emissions and has achieved only a 6 per cent reduction since 2009. How is the sector innovating? There are a lot of disruptive businesses in that sector. Where might reductions come from?

Tom Thackray said that business does not like regulation. I would have fallen off my seat if he had said that it does. Do you see a way for the private sector and the services sector to innovate, if business is regulated? Is there a danger that in countries that are going down the route of stronger regulation or setting higher ambitions, disruptors and innovative businesses will take the lead on innovation, which will leave us behind?

Tom Thackray

It certainly was not my intention to make a blanket comment about business not liking regulation. There is good regulation and there is bad regulation.

Drone technology is a great example of a disruptive technology that is bringing in many disruptive businesses and has the potential to transform many sectors, including energy generation, without a regulatory approach being taken. There are no rules of the game, so businesses can innovate.

There are also huge opportunities in artificial intelligence, particularly in the services sector. However, there are complex regulatory questions about ethics, for example, which will need expertise from the private and public sectors if they are to be answered. The quicker we can make progress on that, the better, although great progress is already being made.

Mark Ruskell

I see. You are not talking about climate regulation and climate targets restricting activity, but about regulatory frameworks that govern innovative technologies, and about freeing up businesses to compete.

Tom Thackray

Having climate targets is useful: businesses welcome clear targets that are set by sector, with milestones along the way to the longer-term targets. However, there will be huge opportunities, particularly in the context of the disruptive model, if there is more focus on facilitating innovation, which I think your question was partly about.

Mark Ruskell

What more should we do to facilitate innovation? We are talking about technology that we do not yet know about. It is not stuff that the UK Climate Change Committee can put into an advice letter to the Scottish Government.

Tom Thackray

That is right. If we consider the power sector, for example, we see that innovation there has brought down the cost of renewables far more than was anticipated, without central Government having taken an overly regulatory approach. That has happened through partnership with industry, and particularly through the carbon price, contracts for difference and electricity market reform. There are great examples of things that we have achieved in the context of emissions reduction, which could be expanded to cover the broader economy.

Those could be seen as the low-hanging fruit, however. The power sector in particular might be more engaged with discussions about emissions reductions and climate change than is the wider economy. How do we make the issue number 1 on the boardroom agenda, rather than number 3, 4 or 5?

12:30  



Mark Ruskell

What sectors need to catch up? We heard last week evidence from Sweden that it has 15 action plans, a strong focus on how its steel sector positions itself globally, and all sorts of interesting technologies. Where is the resistance within the private sector? Are there particular areas that are showing huge leadership in innovation?

Tom Thackray

We have a gap in investment in energy efficiency in the private sector, particularly among small and medium-sized enterprises. As was said in the earlier conversation, we have not had a consistent policy framework in that area for a long time, and businesses are not sure of the pay-off. It has been much easier to make the case for investment in new information technology systems or in higher wages for staff than in energy efficiency because there has just not been a business case, in the perception of those who would invest.

Transport is another area in which there will be a huge amount of demand for and disruption to services in the coming years, and in which there is a huge need to decarbonise. The transition to electric vehicles could be a huge opportunity for the UK economy, given the manufacturing strength that we already have. However, it is necessary to make decisions about supply chains years in advance, so the policy signals must be got straight early. By “policy signals”, I mean that you need to create a market for the product.

Norway is the country with the highest take-up of electric vehicles, but it has had the best consumer incentives for take-up of those vehicles. When those incentives were cut—hey, presto!—the pace of transition also dropped. We have not had clear and consistent policy incentives for the transition to electric vehicles.

Across industry, there are examples including electric vehicles and buildings in which partnership between Government and the private sector could yield quite rapid results.

Stewart Stevenson

Paragraphs 45, 46 and 47 of the financial memorandum provide five cost scenarios for the Scottish Government, for local authorities and for “other bodies, individuals and businesses”. It takes the £13 billion that we have talked about—the origins of which are a mystery to me—and offers scenarios at 0 per cent, 25 per cent, 50 per cent, 75 per cent and 100 per cent of costs. In other words, it is just an arithmetical distribution of figures for the three sectors. I do not think that that tells us anything. Is it useful or should we have something else that properly informs us what the view is? Those paragraphs suggest to me that there is no view, so should not they be deleted from the financial memorandum?

On the other side, of course, should not the financial memorandum include the economic opportunities? There are now 126,000 people employed in renewables, earning £3 billion a year. That gives a context in which the £13 billion is a trivially small number.

Paul Gray

As Mr Stevenson knows, a civil servant will not comment on the detail of something that the Government has produced. However, I will offer the view that the scenarios are helpful. They might be wrong, but they are helpful, because they allow us to test assumptions against what might or might not be. Even if we do not think that a specific scenario will happen, if we test it, we might at least come up with one that does.

As I said earlier, I can provide the committee with scenarios that we have been thinking about and have costed—with all the caveats that I have offered to do with their being based on today’s technology and not on tomorrow’s technology.

It is important that we have at least a sense of the scale of what we are looking at. We have discussed whether we ought to be aiming for 90 per cent or 100 per cent of costs. In a sense, the financial memorandum is telling us that whatever we aim for will come with an associated cost.

Stewart Stevenson is right that there might well be as yet undefined associated opportunities. That prompts us to think hard about how we work together with the private sector, the third sector and academia in order to understand as well as possible the threats and opportunities.

From my perspective, if the financial memorandum and a set of scenarios promote conversation, that is a worthwhile exercise. If the committee wishes to ask for more, that is entirely at its hand.

The Convener

I thank the panel for giving us evidence. We have kept you a good 10 to 15 minutes over the allotted time, so thank you for indulging us and answering all our questions so comprehensively.

At the next meeting on 13 November, the committee will continue its consideration of the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill.

12:36 Meeting continued in private until 12:55.  



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Fourth meeting transcript

The Convener (Gillian Martin)

Good morning and welcome to the 32nd meeting in 2018 of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee. I remind everyone present—including myself; I will just check—to switch off their mobile phones, as they might affect the broadcasting system.

Under agenda item 1, the committee will take evidence on the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill. This is the fourth of the committee’s evidence sessions with stakeholders. Today, we will hear evidence from three panels on the sectoral change that is required to meet the targets that are set out in the bill. We will consider agriculture, freight transport and active and public transport.

I am delighted to welcome our first panel of witnesses this morning, who will focus on agriculture. Joining us are Andrew Midgley, environment and land use manager, NFU Scotland; Pete Ritchie, director, Nourish Scotland; Katy Dickson, head of policy, Scottish Land & Estates; Kate Rowell, chair, Quality Meat Scotland; Patrick Krause, chief executive, Scottish Crofters Federation; Professor David Reay, University of Edinburgh; and Professor Eileen Wall, Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes Gateway.

I will open with a general question about what has been done to date with the Scottish Government’s approach. How well has the Scottish Government’s approach to encouraging low-carbon farming practices—for example, in the farming for a better climate programme—worked to date?

Professor David Reay (University of Edinburgh)

My perception is that it has not worked very well. The farming for a better climate programme gives some great exemplars. If they were implemented across Scotland, that would be a huge success. However, we are all very concerned about emissions, and they are not really going down in the sector. We need either much more uptake from those exemplar farms or a different approach.

The Convener

How can things improve? What is missing? There are exemplar farms, but you have said that there has not been a huge uptake. What would be the right strategy to get that uptake?

Professor Reay

I suspect that we have loads of really good practice, but a lot of farmers and landowners need to know about that and need more support to implement it. We have some great exemplars, but it is about bringing the average up in adopting low-carbon strategies. That will also give increased productivity. I think that we will discuss how to do that.

Time is running out for voluntary measures only and relying on people seeing and adopting good practice through word of mouth. There can be a more incentive-based approach. If there is good practice that delivers on climate change and other key objectives, including increased profitability, it needs to be overtly incentivised.

The Convener

Maybe people will want to pick up on your statement that the time for voluntary action is running out. I imagine that the NFUS and Scottish Land & Estates will have something to say about that.

Andrew Midgley (NFU Scotland)

To answer your first question about how far we have gone and how good the approach has been and to echo the points that Professor Reay made, I would say that there has been lots of good work but it has not had the reach that it should have had or that we would like it to have had. From our perspective, climate change is not at the top of the priority list. There is so much else going on that other extremely important issues take precedence. Issues such as Brexit and the future of farm support are critical to the future of the industry.

From our perspective, tackling climate change is not necessarily at the top of the Scottish Government’s priority list for agriculture. Addressing climate change in the industry is at the crux of the way forward, and the Government is not demonstrating that it is driving that change. We are left with initiatives—however laudable and excellent in what they are trying to achieve—that will only ever have limited reach, because the emphasis seems to be elsewhere.

How do we change that position? The Government has a huge role to play in setting the direction of travel and the priorities for the long term. Clearly, the NFUS has a role to play in that, too. If we want to, collectively, we can put much greater emphasis on climate change than we do today. We are willing to work with the Government to do that.

There is then the question of which measures we want to adopt. It is probably useful to be a bit more subtle than to talk about voluntary versus mandatory measures. When the United Kingdom Committee on Climate Change took evidence recently in Edinburgh, whether there should be voluntary or mandatory measures was a crux issue. We argued that there should continue to be voluntary measures. If we were to take a slightly more subtle approach, we could think of a spectrum with voluntary measures at one end and regulation at the other, and education through incentive to regulation could be mapped on to that spectrum. Our position is that regulation is not necessarily the best way to encourage people to change their behaviour; we are more likely to achieve results through incentives and education. That is where the emphasis should be.

In our “Steps to Change: A New Agricultural Policy for Scotland” document, we have set out a structure of farm support that would include measures to support active farming that delivers on mitigating emissions. There are ways of reducing emissions that encourage behaviour change without necessarily resorting to changing the law to force people to do things, because that might not be the most constructive approach.

The Convener

Would anyone else like to come in on that general question?

Patrick Krause (Scottish Crofters Federation)

I add support to what Andrew Midgley has said. The Scottish Government could do more to help. The committee will have heard me say previously that crofting exists in an area that is noted for its high nature value but the Scottish Government’s agri-environment schemes almost exclude crofters because they are inaccessible. That is a specific example of what Andrew Midgley is talking about. The Scottish Government could do more with what we have at present.

The Convener

What makes such schemes inaccessible?

Patrick Krause

It is the way in which they have been set up. The schemes are based on a points system. Small producers—not just crofters but smallholders, small family farms and so on—find it almost impossible to gain the points that they need. Larger industrial agribusinesses employ consultants specifically to write their proposals.

Katy Dickson (Scottish Land & Estates)

I, too, add support to what has been said. We do not believe that the voluntary approach is not working, but it is simply not working well enough. The schemes that are in place are fantastic, but they are not resourced efficiently to ensure that everyone can access them, as Patrick Krause said, and farm to the benefit of their business and the environment. We need further education, to understand the baselines from which we are working and to make it easy for people to make those differences. Brexit brings the opportunity for the Government to align good practice and ensure that everyone understands where it is trying to go. Scottish Land & Estates very much has a role in that, as well as in ensuring that people learn from where farming is being done sustainably, so that that can be rolled out across the country.

The Convener

There is also a financial and economic argument for farming sustainably. Does that get put across as much as it could?

Katy Dickson

It could be put across better, but sometimes it takes more than statistics or figures to convince people. They like to see examples in which somebody stands up and says, “This is the real difference that farming like this has made to my business.”

Mark Ruskell (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Green)

The convener mentioned the farming for a better climate programme. How successful has that been relative to other schemes? I was reading a number of the submissions about the origin green programme in Ireland, which I gather has delivered 117,000 beef carbon assessments and 20,000 dairy carbon assessments. Where do you see our programmes relative to best-practice programmes in other countries?

Pete Ritchie (Nourish Scotland)

As Andrew Midgley said, we simply have not been clear enough that this is a priority for Scottish agriculture. If we were serious about doing this, we would invest resources that are commensurate with the scale of the challenge. As the NFUS said in its evidence, it is not an easy problem. A lot of small businesses, which are often not particularly well capitalised or well resourced in terms of management time, will have to change their practices. That is still the challenge that we have.

The origin green programme shows what it looks like when you to try to do something at scale. We have not been doing anything at scale and, as Katy Dickson said, we have not given the clear message that doing better on greenhouse gas emissions equals doing better on profitability. The Quality Meat Scotland figures show clearly that more profitable farms generally produce lower greenhouse gas emissions. We need to get the message across very clearly and help that long tail of farmers who are not doing well on greenhouse gas emissions and profitability to do better. That means a massive increase in the amount of training, support and advice; it means working with people and taking them with you.

I agree that regulation is a blunt instrument, but it will be needed soon if we do not rapidly scale up what we are doing. It is not just that we are not going to meet our climate targets; our reputation as a producer country will go downhill. It is undeniable that people’s attitudes towards meat and dairy consumption are changing. Retailers are increasingly looking for evidence of sustainability. That is what the origin green programme is about. It is about producers convincing the supply chain that they have got their act together on climate change. If we do not convince the supply chain of that, Scottish produce will be less sellable in the international market.

Andrew Midgley

Farming for a better climate is a good initiative. Its precursor was the monitor farm work, which was established as a good way for farmers to open up their business to explore the future of that farm with their neighbours. It was a learning experience that had demonstrable benefits. We took it from New Zealand.

When we came up with farming for a better climate, the intention was to build on that monitor farm work as a good way of sharing expertise and knowledge. That logic is still robust and it stands, but I understand that the farming for a better climate programme is being assessed and we are waiting for the outcome of that assessment. The question is one of scale and how to scale from the farms and people involved to a much wider-ranging industry.

The origin green programme is a different way of doing it in that, according to my understanding of it, it is led by the Government deciding that it wants to achieve a market benefit for the industry by improving environmental performance. That is quite a top-down approach. It is being led from the front. In order to do that, there has to be widespread uptake of measures across the industry to ensure that such a label has some sort of legitimacy. It is a different mechanism that can be used to achieve change across a broader spectrum of the industry. The two programmes are slightly different.

09:45  



Patrick Krause

I am interested in what my two colleagues are saying, because it touches on an issue that we in crofting have thought about a lot, which is how we market croft produce. Over many years, we have had a great deal of advice on how to sell directly and how to use niche marketing and so on. When we started doing that, such things were not in the main stream, but they are now.

The Brexit catastrophe presents us with the question of how we are going to compete in the international market, which Pete Ritchie talked about. The basis on which we can sell produce involves our credentials on the environment, quality and provenance. That gives the consumer the message that we are presenting something that is good food. In that regard, it struck me that Kate Rowell’s organisation is not called Quality Meat Scotland for nothing. That is where we need to be heading—quality. Quality means traceability and produce that is good in terms of the environment, climate change and so on. Therefore, even when we are being production focused and profit focused—crofters also need to make a profit—we have to bear in mind that that is how our business is going to succeed. We need to be seen on the international market as producers of quality produce.

Kate Rowell (Quality Meat Scotland)

We have done quite a lot of research into origin green in relation to our standards. We have the farm assured scheme for Scottish beef and Scottish lamb, and we have looked at the origin green standards in comparison with ours. Those standards push farmers to put sustainability into their standards, which is laudable. Personally, I think that that is the way we have to go. However, the problem is that we run a voluntary membership scheme for farm assurance and, if you push too fast too quickly, people do not come with you. We are definitely considering the issue. Some impetus from other parts of the industry—or from the Government—might help other people to come along with us on those schemes. I must emphasise that we have not done anything about it yet, but we are actively looking at it.

Mark Ruskell

Is the fact that you have to cajole people to take up such a scheme just one of the problems with voluntarism?

Kate Rowell

You have to persuade farmers to see the benefit of a farm assurance scheme. They are paying for it, so they have to see a benefit from it. If you make life too hard for them, they will not get involved in the scheme.

John Scott (Ayr) (Con)

I must declare an interest as a farmer and landowner, and as a member of the NFUS. I would like to put some figures on some of the issues that have been talked about. On the lack of dedicated staff in the Scottish Government, I believe that it was the NFUS submission that said that there is just one full-time equivalent person in the Scottish Government dedicated to reducing carbon in agriculture. Am I correct?

Andrew Midgley

My experience in the policy area is that there is one go-to person who leads the climate change stakeholder work. However, I am sure that the Scottish Government will probably say that you should look at all the other stuff that it does in terms of advice and so on.

John Scott

How many people have been through Scotland’s Rural College’s farming for a better climate programme this year? Is it 1,000? Kate Rowell, do you know that?

Kate Rowell

I am sorry; I do not.

John Scott

I am sure that I saw that in one of the submissions. I believe that there are 12 monitor farms and that, in total, 1,000 people will have been involved in that programme this year. If those figures are correct, that shows you the scale of the problem, given that there are—if my memory serves me correctly—about 20,000 farmers and crofters in Scotland. There is certainly a need to roll out that programme.

Kate Rowell, your submission—perhaps challenging the view of Professor David Reay—highlights the view of Quality Meat Scotland that the current systems of measurement for carbon output are not adequate. Could you expand on that further?

Kate Rowell

I did not write the submission, but I will do my best. I have been in the job for only six weeks, so please bear with me.

The problem that we have with the measurement of emissions is that it is a very blunt instrument. We are counting the number of cows—that is basically how we are measuring emissions from cows. To make an analogy with the transport industry, that is exactly the same as counting the number of cars and not taking into account anything that car manufacturers are doing to make individual cars more efficient. We were recently privileged to be at the SRUC’s green cow facility, where the emissions from cows are measured and cows are given different feedstuffs and additives to see what difference that makes to their emissions. In the current measurement system, that is pointless, because there is no mechanism for more efficient cows to be measured.

I am a farmer as well as being the chair of Quality Meat Scotland, and I am going home this afternoon to pregnancy diagnose all our cows. The best result for me would be that every single cow is going to have a calf, and the best result for efficiency is that every single cow is going to have a calf, because we have fed the cow and she has produced all her emissions, so we want a calf from every cow. The trouble with the measurement system that we have at the moment is that that is almost the worst-case scenario, because it would double the number of cows, so even the most efficient farmers are adding to the figures. We would like there to be investment in research for a new, world-leading measuring system for agricultural emissions.

The Deputy Convener

Thank you. Professor Wall—would you like to comment on that?

Professor Eileen Wall (Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes Gateway)

Kate Rowell referred to the research. A lot of work has been done across the UK Governments on improving our national inventory, which is simply refining the counting of cows, and taking account of management systems, dietary elements and—to continue the analogy with makes of cars—differences between breeds. There are ways of doing it; it is not impossible. The underlying aim is that, however big the population is, if every one of Kate’s cows is pregnant—the hope is that 100 per cent of cows will calve this year—the calves will automatically be included in the audit.

That does not really give any measure of emissions efficiency, however. That 100 per cent calving rate would massively improve the efficiency of her breeding herd, compared with if it was down at 80 per cent, if you look at the return of product from the whole system. That is where we get into the conflict between what we are required to report on an inventory, which is absolute emissions—which is a factor of the number of animals and how we are planning, ploughing and managing our fields—versus the efficiency per unit of product. The stuff that we are doing on the policy side and on the research side is helping to inform that debate.

Claudia Beamish (South Scotland) (Lab)

There is an extremely interesting discussion to be had about measurement that should perhaps feed into the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill. I was on the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee during the previous session of Parliament, when our remit included agriculture and climate change—we will leave aside the discussion about whether the division is good or not. I heard a lot about excellent practices and developments that have been happening for a considerable time.

Also, as a rural dweller, I know about the isolation that families who work in farming, forestry or land use more broadly often experience, and I question why programmes such as farming for a better climate, which John Scott mentioned, have not spread more. Is that something that the witnesses could comment on?

I am thinking about issues that are raised with me, which the witnesses will all know far more about than I do, including dietary change for animals—rather than for humans; we will have that conversation later—genetics, for which money is available in the agri-environment scheme, and development of soil testing. Why are such things not being shared so that we are in more of an agroecological environment? I am sorry to go on for so long, but those activities help profits in farming, as has been highlighted, so why are we still where we are?

Professor Reay

The others on the panel know much more about the barriers than I do. As an academic, I suggest that one of our issues is knowledge transfer. We need to get better at that.

There will be a host of reasons why we have only 1,000 rather than 20,000 stakeholders taking up good practice through farming for a better climate. One of the comparators that I have looked at is Denmark, which had a similar big problem with high use and high waste of nitrogens in agriculture. Although there was a lot of good practice—as we have—many landowners and farmers were not accessing information and implementing good nitrogen-use efficiency. Regulation was therefore brought in to address the large number of farmers who, in essence, needed help to move up. That has been successful for Denmark. Denmark is still not as good as we are on that—it uses more nitrogen—but nitrous oxide emissions there have come down significantly, whereas ours have not. There are lessons to learn from Denmark.

Andrew Midgley

The question is on the spread of change and why we have not gone further. We have to think about the folk on the ground; it is hard to generalise, because in any walk of life there is a spectrum of folk. There will be people who are fully committed and signed up environmentalists. What do people want to do? They want to grow high-quality crops, manage their land well, rear high-quality animals and be viewed with respect in their communities. If we are completely honest about it, climate change emissions reduction is still not right up there as a thing that people are judged on among their peers. As I said, it is difficult to generalise and I do not want to do so in a negative way, but the reality is that climate change has not risen so far that it is seen as a critical thing to address.

For the NFUS, there is a really important point about how it will all happen if we are to achieve what we want, which we have tried to convey in our submission. The climate change agenda might be seen as someone else’s agenda rather than as our collective agenda: that is a really important issue that we must address. Obviously, the agenda is for all of us, and that is what we have to work on.

We have individuals and their practice and we have the industry—bodies such as the NFUS and people who represent the industry. Both are actors in this. It is unfortunate that sometimes when climate change is raised it is done in a way that feels like an attack so, as an industry, we end up defending. That is not a constructive way to get to the point at which climate change is accepted as a collective issue. At the moment, the approach is still almost a confrontation rather than a collective effort.

The Convener

John Scott has a short question on that.

John Scott

On Professor Reay’s point—I defer to his knowledge—does the panel agree that there is an opportunity with the proposed agriculture bill that the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy has said he will introduce to deliver a half-way house between regulation and the voluntary code of practice? For example, to qualify for future support, farmers could have a menu of options, given that the 20,000 farms in Scotland are all different. If they were to tick, say, six of 10 options that would be available on a menu, they would qualify thereafter for agricultural support. Crofters might have fewer options being open to them, so they could be looked at differently.

10:00  



Professor Reay

I agree absolutely. I have discussed exactly that with John Scott before. As Andrew Midgley described, the issue is how to bring everyone along with the idea.

Denmark made some serious mistakes in implementing policies to drive change. It has had some successes in mandatory action, but it lost a large amount of support from the farming community, which has set the country back. We can learn from that and not make the same mistakes. There are good exemplars in the Danish situation, but there are also exemplars of what not to do.

John Scott suggested incentives to good practice that would be voluntary, but the farmer who chose not to have a low-carbon strategy would not be eligible for incentives. That could be very effective.

Katy Dickson

I agree with that approach. It is important that everyone sees the opportunity for the individual as well as how activity feeds in to targets.

If people are to take land out of active production or change their business significantly and invest to do that, we need to ensure that they can trust the system and know that in the long term it will support them. Otherwise, people will say that the system will just change in the future, or that the good thing that they are doing has no impact, because their neighbours are not doing it. We need to make sure that everybody is on board.

Professor Wall

I also support the idea of incentives. The evidence is that a menu of options may be the best way forward. We have been working on the carbon-auditing side of the beef efficiency scheme. That scheme has been rolled out just over the past year. We get feedback in conversations with farmers. We discuss inefficiencies and use that as a tool to focus on what will work for the individual. It is early to use that to underpin a whole act, but it highlights that everything in the system can be bespoke, at a given point in time.

Climate change is long term and cows are long lived. To improve efficiency, it is not possible to make a decision on one day for one five-year period for the Scottish rural development programme funding, and then to expect that changing the message the next time round will continue to have the same benefit in the target rates as the previous one.

The Convener

We will move on to questions from Stewart Stevenson on a similar theme. There will be an opportunity for the panel to come in on those points.

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP)

I declare that I have a very small registered agricultural holding.

I want to explore the numbers and mathematics. Given that biomathematics and statistics Scotland is part of SEFARI, Professor Wall should be on high alert immediately.

The target in the bill for 2050 is 20 per cent, and net zero emissions is also being discussed as an option. Neither target is for the agricultural sector. We have heard that many things can be done in the agricultural sector that are economically beneficial while they also support the climate change agenda.

Would it be cheaper, given that we have a quarter of Europe’s tidal power, to put all our investment in tidal power and let farming get on with it? That may well take us to net zero emissions.

Professor Wall

I cannot speak for the whole of the economy and all its various sectors. Certainly, it is a fact that if we are going to have agriculture, with its livestock and crops, there will be emissions. More than 70 per cent of the land in Scotland is suitable for livestock—the quality product that Kate Rowell and Quality Meat Scotland promote globally, and which has brand recognition. That land needs to be managed. If we can make money and achieve climate benefit and wider ecosystem benefits from it, and foster community stability, why would we do what you suggest? We should still invest in tidal energy, however; a multisectoral approach is required.

Stewart Stevenson

I am being deliberately provocative; I am not advocating investment in tidal power as the magic bullet. What I am really asking is whether an attempt is being made across all sectors, including agriculture, to work out what climate benefit we get for every £1 that we invest. In other words, is an attempt being made to find out how many pounds we should put into agriculture, power generation, transport and so on? It is worth bearing it in mind that not all the money is public pounds. Is any work being done to address that? I see that Professor Reay wants to jump in.

Professor Reay

That is a good and provocative question. We want least-cost carbon reduction. In all sectors—including agriculture—there are areas in which reduction can be achieved at no cost or negative cost. We cannot, however, get to net zero greenhouse gas emissions simply by having loads of tidal energy because that will not sequester carbon. We will also still have emissions of methane and nitrous oxide from other sources.

Stewart Stevenson

I would like to pull you up slightly there. I understand what you are saying, but methane is a carbon equivalent, which means that if we have negative emissions from electricity generation, in arithmetical terms, given the way in which the targets are structured, we would be offsetting the methane without reducing it. On top of that—this is a complex issue—methane disperses very rapidly, whereas carbon dioxide is there for hundreds of years.

Professor Reay

On energy generation, we could get to zero carbon, which is where we need to get to, but we will still have emissions from agriculture and land use that we cannot fully mitigate unless we have sequestration. Globally and in Scotland, that must be part of the strategy. We cannot just address the issue in the energy sector. In fact, we cannot meet our net zero emissions target without agriculture being a key part of delivery.

Pete Ritchie

With regard to the suggestion about a menu of options, I do not think that that is good enough as a response to climate change. We cannot simply say, “We’re going to have a new farm support scheme, and one of the options is to do something about climate change.” Tackling climate change must be front and centre of what all of us—including all farmers—do. As Andrew Midgley said, we need a very clear signal from the Government that mitigating climate change is not optional for farmers, any more than it is for any other sector of Scottish society. It is an issue that we are all invested in, and which we should all be doing something about. It is not enough just to have one option that farmers can take, but do not have to take.

Whatever shape the post-2020 support system takes, we must move towards a position in which every farmer is doing something about climate change. It is very clear that that is where public opinion is going. If control of farm support lies at Holyrood, people will want to see farmers doing their bit alongside everybody else. That does not mean punishing farmers; it means getting behind them and working with them over the long term. It takes time for farmers to change their practices and to change their herds. It will take a long time to get the new genetics into our herds, for example.

People do not take such measures quickly, because they are running small businesses. If what they are currently doing works and there is no significant reward for changing, why should they take the risk? If what they are doing works well enough, that is an incentive for them to keep doing what they are doing. The Government needs to walk alongside people to help them to make the changes.

We must continue to recognise that the reputation of Scotland’s produce depends on our doing a really good job, and being seen to do a really good job, on climate change. It is true that we will never reduce agriculture emissions to zero—nobody is suggesting that we will—but we can make sensible reductions that will increase the profitability of farming and we can lock up a lot more carbon in Scotland’s soils than we are locking up at the moment. Such perfectly sensible strategies can help the industry and will not undermine it.

Stewart Stevenson

I will close off the bit of my questioning about how farming will have to change. Is there a list that a farmer can look at to help them understand the order in which they will get the best benefit? As we already know, there are an awful lot of things that farmers could be doing, but do they know which ones to hunt for first? There will be different answers for arable farming, beef farming, hill farming and so on—I understand that—but is there a list of the kind that I have outlined?

Professor Wall

That list is one of the things that the farming for a better climate programme is coming up with, and the education and communication around that vehicle have been very successful in identifying some of its elements. However, the options are very broad, and the specifics that will work for one particular system at one particular time need to be managed. It is all about having a conversation about—and an understanding of—the fact that something might work one year but not the next. The question is how we take that from the education and awareness stage to the understanding and uptake of best practice on a farm at any one time.

Of course, it will also depend on what has already been done—in other words, the added benefit. The options do not necessarily work independently of one another; a lot of them have additional and cumulative benefits that we should be trying to capitalise on. Again, that is part of a longer-term conversation to reach a certain level of understanding of how this works in practice. What works very well is being able to highlight particular examples.

Katy Dickson

We need to be careful of what we count as agriculture. We need more recognition of the other things that farmers are already doing and which do not count towards agricultural impacts. They might already be planting trees, carrying out peatland restoration or have other on-going activities, but all that the figures show is that agriculture is not improving.

I find it interesting that rough grazing is not counted as agriculture and that all the soil underneath such grazings is not seen as used or productively farmed land—I am not quite sure what the term is. As I have said, we need to be careful, because a lot is happening that is not included in the figures.

Stewart Stevenson

So we should really be looking at the whole land use, land-use change and forestry—or LULUCF—area.

Katy Dickson

We should carefully assess which things sit in which category and be really careful not to draw a definite line between the categories. They are all part of land use. It could be useful to understand that better.

John Scott

Although I appreciate the different synergies and ways of working, I am going to make things awkward and ask each of the panel to give me one solution, given that we are looking for lists of solutions. Could each of you, in your own time, provide us with a brief solution for achieving the 90 per cent target and the net zero target?

The Convener

Who is going to go first?

Professor Reay

I should declare a bias as a nitrogen researcher, but my solution would be nitrogen-use efficiency, just because of the wins of improved productivity, reduced air and water pollution and reduced emissions through a reduction in nitrous oxide.

The Convener

Would anyone else like to chime in?

Patrick Krause

I am trying to work out how I can condense my 10 points into one, and I cannot do it. As a result, I will have to go for sequestration as a solution. The conversation that we have been having over the past 10 minutes is really key to the issue, and people have made some absolutely essential points. We have to look at this holistically. The area of carbon offset—the idea that if someone is doing something good, it is okay for me to do something bad—is somewhere we cannot go. We all have to be doing good, and striking the balance is, as Professor Reay has said, about locking the carbon up again. That is particularly important to crofters, given that we are conservation grazing on a lot of Scotland’s prime peatlands. It is absolutely essential that we get the peatlands into a healthy state.

Andrew Midgley

I would focus on the fact that this is all about people. The solution that I will give you is not about what measure should be implemented but about what has to happen to encourage more action. We need to get a large number of people who are running businesses to change their behaviour.

I was really encouraged to hear that the majority back the suggestions on supporting action under future farm support, because that is what we have been suggesting. We support future policy change that enables people to work in a way that addresses climate change, and that happens through farm support. We also support the Government leading from the front—

10:15  



The Convener

John Scott’s question was about what sustainable farming could look like on the ground and what measures could be taken to change farming. If we are even to have a stab at achieving net zero, for example, what will that look like?

Andrew Midgley

We know the measures on nitrogen use—there is a big long list of them. One potential solution is to do with the circular economy and how we use nutrients in the wider economy and get them from where they are created to where they are used. Some work may be needed on that.

Pete Ritchie

I will rehearse things that people know. Improving animal health is the number 1 no-brainer. It is really important to get rid of some of the soil compaction that we should not have. We need to get more organic matter into our soils—that does not necessarily mean farming organically, but that is one way to do it. On nitrogen use, we could, quite simply, use a lot more clover. We have known about clover for hundreds of years, but we still have farms that do not sow clover in their mixes, which is strange. We could do a lot more on agriforestry. It is a good idea to have more trees on farms. We have had a culture in which farmers who have planted trees have been told that they have failed as farmers. We need a culture in which farmers are told that farms should have trees on them and that agriforestry means that we can maintain the same yields while locking up a lot more carbon and providing a lot of other biodiversity and flood-prevention benefits.

Professor Wall

Like Dave Reay, I, too, declare an interest: I am a geneticist. We have seen mitigation benefits in pig, poultry and dairy, and we can track at least 50 per cent of them to the genetic improvement that has happened over the past 20 years. To go back to Andrew Midgley’s point, we do not have the same uptake of such tools in beef and sheep—in part, that is what the beef efficiency scheme is trying to address.

This is against my own interest, but that is about data and about farmers understanding what is happening on farms from year to year and making decisions on that basis. That information feeds into my research and the tools that we help to develop, but farmers need a discussion about what their calving rate is year on year and what they can do to improve. Getting into data-driven agriculture will underpin many of the actions that people have mentioned.

Kate Rowell

I echo that. We need to be as efficient as possible with our livestock; we need to be farming as efficiently as possible. Well-managed grazing is so important—it can increase the carbon sink of our grasslands. Getting the message out is the important thing. The answers are there; we just need to get them out there and taken up.

John Scott

Can anyone comment on whether soil pH is included?

Pete Ritchie

Yes, absolutely.

Claudia Beamish

My question is about transformational change, which is a topic that we have discussed a lot. The phrase “just transition” is used in some sectors—the energy sector, for example, and I am often asked what it means. I will not define it today, but it is an inclusive phrase. My question touches on some of the issues that we have been exploring together. To what degree is “just transition” a valuable phrase for agriculture, forestry and land use? I would like the panel’s comments on that, after which I will ask a couple of quick follow-up questions.

Pete Ritchie

It is a very helpful phrase for agriculture. We know that agriculture in Scotland and across the world is facing a crunch point in delivering a sustainable food system. We have had massive losses in biodiversity globally and face the huge challenge of climate change. Agriculture needs to shift. To walk with farmers through that shift in Scotland means having a just transition. It means having a new deal with farmers and saying that we will support them if they will support us to deliver on our social objectives for climate change and the environment.

Taking farmers through that just transition is where the focus of our next farm support policy and our agricultural policy needs to be, because business as usual is simply not an option for farming.

Professor Reay

I think that “just transition” is a useful phrase. The point has already been made that there is a danger that agriculture in Scotland and around the world will be vilified as a problem sector for climate change. We know from the special report “Global Warming of 1.5°”, which came out a couple of weeks ago, that the urgency is very much ratcheting up. We need to avoid that vilification, because I see farmers as the champions in terms of where we go on climate change through to 2050 and beyond. When it comes to delivering on our climate change targets, there are many other positives, and that narrative needs to be the one that farmers, as well as the general public, hear.

Andrew Midgley

We support the concept of just transition. My understanding is that the concept came out of the union movement and that the intention is to try to deliver climate change action without that action having huge negative consequences for workers.

Claudia Beamish

And for communities?

Andrew Midgley

Yes. With such things in mind, my union thought that there was great crossover: there is going to be change in agriculture, but we can deliver that change without necessarily having huge job losses in the industry.

The Convener

Angus MacDonald has a supplementary question.

Angus MacDonald (Falkirk East) (SNP)

I take on board Pete Ritchie’s point that business as usual is not an option, but there is an argument that transformational change could result in land abandonment, not least in less favoured areas, which we should not ignore. I will quote some stark comments from the submission that we received from the National Sheep Association. The NSA says that it

“does not believe the ambitious targets laid out in the paper are realistic and with regard to the livestock sector we believe there will be serious impacts on red meat production for Scotland. With 85% classed as Less Favoured Area ... hill flocks managed across vast areas of Scotland already contribute significantly to reducing climate change targets purely by the way in which they graze and control grass growth where no other animal or human can do that.”

It also states:

“If breeding sheep numbers were to be reduced, purely as a mechanism to meet GHG emission targets, then the social, economic and environmental impact would be devastating across rural parts of Scotland. People would simply disappear from the remotest areas, as without sheep and sheep farming, there will be no reason for people to live up many of the remote glens of Scotland. Evidence of this land abandonment can already be seen in many parts.”

I just want to get those comments on the record. Does Patrick Krause want to comment?

Patrick Krause

We would agree with just about everything that was said there, except for the opening statement that we should not be trying for net zero. Certainly, in my experience of surveying crofters, once net zero is explained, people understand that it is a worthy target to go for. Why go for 90 per cent if we could go for net zero? The concept of net zero is really important. As I said, it is not about just having zero emissions but about the fact that we are managing our land in such a way that there is a balance. That equilibrium is what we are after.

The Convener

Mark Ruskell has some questions on this theme.

Mark Ruskell

I want to go back to how we manage transformations. There seem to be a huge number of possibilities around agriforestry, forestry and how the sector is addressing the situation. I think that it was Guy Smith from the NFU in England who said that there were big opportunities with a net zero carbon economy, and he very much pointed to timber. Culturally, is the agriculture sector taking those opportunities? It might mean a lot less sheep and beef, and a lot more timber.

Andrew Midgley

As it stands, there is probably a division of sorts between agriculture and forestry, but activity is on-going to try to counter that division. Several years ago, the woodland expansion advisory group sought to explore how the forestry targets could be met in the context of continuing agricultural production, and it found that it would be possible to meet the forestry targets without necessarily hugely reducing agricultural production. Since then, there have been initiatives involving sheep and trees to try to encourage extra planting on farms, which we have supported. We support the on-going efforts to encourage planting of trees on farms. In the range of things that farmers can do, that is on the credit side in terms of sequestration—it is a very positive thing.

A tension arises when the forestry industry buys whole farms, which has consequences for communities, especially in remote locations, and gets very contentious. Pete Ritchie may have more insight into this, but I know that, although agriforestry is in the current SRDP, it is not taken up to any great extent. There is an issue with the demonstration and spread of those ideas.

Mark Ruskell

Why is that? I gather that there was only one application to the SRDP last year for agriforestry, which seems counterintuitive, considering everything that we are talking about.

Andrew Midgley

When people apply for an agri-environment scheme, they look at what they have, their business and how they can match that with the scheme. They consider how they can deliver for the public good and how that fits with their business. Everyone always starts from what they have been doing. There is an element of stretching into something new and, I guess, there is inertia. It comes down to trying to demonstrate the effectiveness or consequences of the change, such as saving money, the diversification of cropping and that sort of thing.

Work was done in the past by the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute at Glensaugh, but that has not really continued or been pushed out. There is potentially an opportunity to carry that work on.

Patrick Krause

My understanding is that the agriforestry scheme is really difficult to get into, which is why there are very few applications.

For me, Mark Ruskell’s original question about forestry conjured up the issue of forestry blocks. We have to be careful about what we are thinking about. Industrial timber and monocropping have the same problems, including environmental problems, as monocropping in agriculture. As Pete Ritchie said, we have not used agriforestry enough. We should be heading for a cultural transition to the acceptance of trees on farms and crofts. It is not as simple as just trees; it is about what goes on under the trees. My understanding is that in quite a few locations we are pulling trees out because they have been drying out peatlands. Obviously, it is about finding a good mix and balance.

The Convener

We will have a quick question from Claudia Beamish before we move on to another theme.

Claudia Beamish

I just point out—I am not asking for comment on this, as it is not my question—that Tom Archer is doing agriforestry, so that might show the lead. Anyway, never mind about that.

We have had an interesting exploration of the issues with a mandatory approach and a voluntary approach. There is also the question of setting sectoral targets in the bill and breaking those down further. Pete Ritchie highlighted that point in Nourish’s written submission in relation to agriforestry and other areas. That could be another way of pushing things forward. I ask him for a brief comment on that. We are running short of time, as we have a lot of other questions, so others might weave their comments on that into further comments about targets. However, as Pete Ritchie raised the issue in his submission, I ask him to comment on it.

10:30  



Pete Ritchie

It is all part of asking for clear leadership from the Government on where we are going. As Mark Ruskell said, we introduced the agriforestry scheme in the last SRDP partly because of the woodland expansion advisory group, but there was no oomph behind it and no leadership. We asked the Government for a 10-year research and development programme to develop the approach at scale, but nothing happened. Nobody was responsible for promoting the uptake of agriforestry among farmers or ensuring that it happened. The same could be said of organics and a number of other best practices. It has been nobody’s job in Government to promote them, and it has been left to the union or to individual farmers to make that move. We do not have leadership or direction.

Statutory targets might be a crude instrument, but at least they are one way of saying that we want to get to X by Y, or that something is good to invest in and we are signalling that we will invest in it.

I want to pick up briefly on the point that Angus MacDonald made about depopulation. There is a perfectly reasonable case for saying that it is really important that we maintain people in very fragile communities in parts of Scotland, and subsidising farming in a particular way might be the best way of doing that. Sometimes—although not always—sheep farming might be the only way of doing that. We have to consider matters much more on a regional and case-by-case basis rather than saying that we need to preserve the number of sheep at all costs in a national scheme. The number of sheep in Scotland is going down, and it will probably continue to go down whatever any of us does about that. Therefore, let us not get caught up in the idea that somehow the only way forward is to keep every sheep that we now have into the future.

Finlay Carson (Galloway and West Dumfries) (Con)

I declare an interest as a member of the NFUS.

We have heard about various potential changes that there can be in farming for it to play its part in addressing climate change. Professor Wall, we know that SEFARI is looking into the effectiveness of the farming for a better climate programme and how effective the mitigation practices might be. What are the barriers to changing agricultural practices, such as those involving feedstocks or breeding, that we could face?

Professor Wall

It is about people. Andrew Midgley raised that point. A lot of the work that we are doing in SEFARI—particularly in this funding round, but it carries on from previous work—is about really trying to understand the KE and KT vehicles that get people understanding. It is also about understanding the barriers to uptake. We are only halfway through the current five-year programme and are not yet there with the answers, but we are already beginning to get messages about the KT vehicles and to learn from them. It is not the case that we have not said things in various ways; it is just that we have not said them correctly in all cases. Where there has been uptake, we can demonstrate that it has worked. The issue is getting that out to the masses, to be crass about it. We are certainly doing research not just about what is happening with respect to the soils or the animals, but about understanding the behavioural change that will support that.

Finlay Carson

Do you think that just an improvement in the knowledge base or the passing on of knowledge would be enough to achieve a lot of the changes?

Professor Wall

The evidence is that we have passed on knowledge and have not achieved changes in all sectors and in all parts of sectors. Therefore, the way in which we have done things has probably not always been correct for the broadest of audiences. We are definitely learning from that and learning about the right ways to communicate. The farming for a better climate programme has been given as an exemplar. People seeing the knowledge working in practice has been a key part of the approach, but that is not the only vehicle.

It is not my area, but there is a whole heap of social science on understanding the behaviours of people. It is not just about the farmers; it is about the groups that support them and the policies that the Government puts in place. We are beginning to learn lessons, particularly in the more technologically advanced industries in which there has been uptake.

Stewart Stevenson

Will Professor Wall say what KT and KE stand for, for the benefit of the Official Report? We know what they mean, but others will not.

Professor Wall

Apologies. They stand for knowledge transfer and knowledge exchange.

Katy Dickson

I want to go back to an earlier point. We need to ensure that all the strategies are aligned. We have a land use strategy, a climate change strategy and a forestry strategy. We need to ensure that they talk to each other and are aligned and that we do not look at them only by the sectors. Every piece of land is not exactly the same. There has to be the right land use in the right area, and that use will be different across Scotland.

Andrew Midgley

The question around barriers is really complicated. I have been seeking to raise the issue of people and social change, but if we drill down to individual farms, there are structural issues to do with size and the capacity of a farmer to invest to deliver change. Farmers are running businesses, so there are market issues and issues around the degree to which the changes that they might need to make fit with their ability to make a living. In lots of cases, those issues are complementary, but they could be constrained by things that are hard to change, such as size and capacity. On top of that are the attitudes and behaviours and so on.

Finlay Carson

We need to address the lack of knowledge of the barriers.

Andrew Midgley

A lot of work has been done on that in relation to similar issues, such as the take-up of agri-environment work.

Pete Ritchie

There is also a more traditional approach to genetics and how you work out what a bull, ram or tup is going to be good for compared to how we do that in the pig and poultry industry. However, we and others have called for continued professional development as an area in which investment in a new scheme could help all farmers to learn a bit more about climate change and what they can do. That could be built into the programme.

Richard Lyle (Uddingston and Bellshill) (SNP)

Let us look at agriculture emissions. The greenhouse gas methane makes up 44 per cent of those emissions, and the cause is cattle and sheep. Its global warming potential over 100 years is at 25. Carbon dioxide accounts for 29 per cent of agricultural emissions, its cause is land use and its global warming potential is 1. Nitrous oxide accounts for 27 per cent, its cause is nitrogen fertiliser and its global warming potential over 100 years is 298.

Kate Rowell hinted earlier that the only way to reduce those figures is the totally unacceptable suggestion that has been made by some people in society of doing away with all the animals, reducing animal stock or stopping using fertiliser in planting. They are ridiculous suggestions. We need to produce more good food, and we have farmers who can do that.

Are we at the limits of feasibility? Has the full range of options to reduce emissions in agriculture been properly examined? Have we discounted actions for technical or political reasons? Are we just tackling agriculture emissions wrongly?

Pete Ritchie

We are nowhere near the limits of technical innovation or feasibility. We could significantly increase the efficiency with which we produce the same amount of food while reducing nitrous oxide and methane emissions considerably through a mixture of genetics, animal health and the sensible use of fertiliser.

Scotland’s nitrogen balance is getting worse. During the past 10 years, we have been wasting more nitrogen than we used to. We are not getting better and we are nowhere near where we could be with technical efficiency. If we become more efficient, we also become more profitable.

For Nourish Scotland, the idea that we are going to double production in certain sectors of Scottish agriculture is a mistake. We need to improve profitability so that individual farmers can make a living and do the right thing for the environment.

Richard Lyle

I have sat here for the past hour and agreed with most of what the panel has said. Should we not take one farm, do it right, and then lead everybody else that way? Farmers have to earn a living. I live in the real world. We must also ensure that farmers produce the food that we need to eat. Should we not be doing that rather than sitting here criticising farmers or saying that they should do this or that and produce more trees and not have too many cattle? Should we not get an example farm for a couple of years and then lead people the right way?

Pete Ritchie

We do have some cutting-edge farms; there is no doubt about that. Some farmers go around the world to improve their practice and learn from others. However, Andrew Midgley has already talked about how slowly such innovation spreads and how challenging it is.

I agree that we need to praise the people who are doing well and show the headlines about why they are doing so well. How to get other people to take up such measures when they run small businesses that are often working on tight cash flows with minimum amounts of money to spend is still a challenge. It is not straightforward. It is not just about doing one thing that everybody will copy.

The Convener

Eileen Wall, do you want to come in?

Professor Wall

I was just going to echo what Pete Ritchie has said.

The Convener

Do you want to follow up on any of that, Richard?

Richard Lyle

I was waiting for Kate Rowell to come back in. I like to drive out in the country and see sheep and cattle in the fields. Some people believe that we should do away with them because they are causing too many emissions. Is that not a crazy suggestion?

Kate Rowell

Yes, it is. Getting rid of everything is definitely not the answer. That would just export our problem, because we would then bring in food from elsewhere, and there are water issues in other parts of the world. We have a huge resource that allows us to grow fantastic grass that we can then convert, through ruminants, into protein that we can eat. That is good for us all and works really well for the country and the economy. The red meat sector contributes £2 billion to the Scottish economy.

I want to echo what we were saying earlier. We have an industry development department and we want to run estimated breeding values—EBV—workshops. That is the science behind the genetics and choosing the animals that we want to use. To get farmers to want to come to those workshops, we often have to dress them up as something a bit more interesting to the farmers. We are calling them getting ready for breeding workshops, and we are kind of putting the science in by the back door. If we say up front that the workshops are about the science, certain farmers will definitely come because they are very interested, but a large proportion will just not think that it is for them, so we need to approach the issue in the right way.

The Convener

It is called marketing.

Kate Rowell

Yes.

Rhoda Grant (Highlands and Islands) (Lab)

I will direct my question to Kate Rowell. Do recent improvements to accounting for agricultural emissions through the new smart inventory address concerns about the accuracy of the greenhouse gas inventory?

Kate Rowell

I am afraid that I cannot answer that question definitively, but I do not think so. As far as I know, we are still working on a very simple system of counting the number of cows. I am sorry, but I do not know enough to answer that question properly.

Andrew Midgley

The inventory was reviewed last year or the year before. The previous system used a very general set of assumptions about emissions per cow or per sheep. The inventory has been improved because it has been differentiated. For example, in dairy, there are three different systems, and there are different systems for beef that take into account age, feed and so on. We now have a much more accurate understanding of emissions from agriculture, which has reduced the amount of emissions that we attribute to the industry. Under the old inventory, we thought that we had one set of emissions, but, when we improved our understanding of the complexity of emissions and of how they are different in different circumstances, we found that the emissions were lower.

An outstanding issue is the degree to which the inventory is revisable. The inventory is still a collection of a set of assumptions and some data, which is brought together to give us a figure on emissions from agriculture. If we change what we do on the ground, that will not necessarily be reflected very easily in the inventory. That would be accounted for only if there was a sufficiently widescale change in behaviour that could be recorded in the assumptions through which the inventory is created.

We have improved the data in the inventory, so we have a more accurate understanding of emissions. However, as Professor Wall said, we need to improve the data and continue to make it more responsive, so that it reflects what is happening on the ground.

10:45  



Professor Reay

It is a good news story, I suppose, but Scotland and the UK are leading the world in terms of improving the resolution in the inventory. Nitrous oxide is a really good example in that respect. There is a lot of uncertainty about it in a lot of the world, so what is called a default emissions factor is used to estimate emissions from, say, a certain amount of nitrogen fertiliser. However, we in the UK and Scotland have gone way beyond that; we use something that has been developed specifically for us and which takes our climate and soils into account to give us a 10km2 resolution for nitrous oxide. We are therefore way ahead of most of the world on this issue, and it gives us a better basis on which to manage things. The inventories will always be a work in progress with regard to taking local information into account and providing a baseline on which we can act, but compared with most nations, we are actually really well placed.

Mark Ruskell

On the basis of consumer trends and compared with current consumption levels, it seems likely that we in this country will certainly be consuming less meat—though not, I would say, no meat—by 2050. Does that create opportunities for Scottish agriculture, particularly horticulture?

Pete Ritchie

If we can get it right, it will create opportunities for Scottish agriculture as far as livestock production is concerned. The argument will be about eating less but better meat and will give us an opportunity to demonstrate that we do meat better here. We do not want to turn all land over to trees, because using it for grazing purposes not only has great amenity value but has great conservation value. There is a good story that we could tell about sustainable livestock production in Scotland, but at the moment, we are not on track to get that right; we are just not going down that road.

There are certainly opportunities in field horticulture and protective cropping and we could be doing a lot more to grow the sector in Scotland to be not just self-sufficient but able to export. There is a huge opportunity to invest in horticulture, which is highly productive and generates a lot of jobs and revenue. However, we should not lose sight of the idea that we can do livestock production well—without keeping dairy cows inside all day and feeding them on imported soya. We can produce good animal products very efficiently from our own resources and then integrate that activity with tree planting and biodiversity work.

Andrew Midgley

The drive to eat less meat is an important social trend, but Scottish agriculture has a lot to be commended for. A lot of that particular narrative is based on international reports on livestock farming that take such farming as a whole, but actually it works in different ways in different places. Naturally, Scottish agriculture has a very good story to tell, and we should be supporting Scottish farmers. Even if what Mr Ruskell has suggested were to transpire, if we supported Scottish farmers, we could still have a bright future.

Mark Ruskell

Does your union cover the horticulture sector?

Andrew Midgley

Yes, we have horticulture members and a working group. Did you think that we just represented the livestock sector? We actually cover the whole thing.

Mark Ruskell

I was just interested in hearing whether you think that there is any jobs potential in horticulture with the shift towards a more flexitarian diet.

Andrew Midgley

There is potential, but it is not necessarily a zero-sum game.

Rhoda Grant

It seems to me that, although we might be measuring things, we are not doing it well—and it is even more worrying to hear that we are world leaders in this. Going back to the point about sequestration and the difficulty of seeing a farm unit’s output, I wonder how we can encourage people to change their behaviour. They might be doing good things, but those are not measured against the bad things; and they might be taking the science into account to lower greenhouse gas emissions, but that activity is not being measured because the instrument in that respect is quite blunt and takes everything as a whole. How can we encourage people to change behaviour if we cannot really reward it?

Andrew Midgley

There are lots of different issues there that it is important to tease out.

The inventory works at a national level. It will always be the best that we can do and it is never going to be absolutely perfect, but we have to work with that. In our submission, we said that there is an issue around how things are reported in agriculture. That relates to your question about how we can encourage people to buy into the approach. At the moment, the inventory views agriculture as a collection of measures that are only about emissions. The things that farmers might do on the positive side—around sequestration, for example, or reducing the amount of energy consumption on their farms—tend to be viewed in a different box. Agriculture gets talked about as being a problem because of that, but farmers do not work in only one box; they do lots of things in different boxes, but people talk about them only in relation to the box that has the problem. That positions farming as somehow just being about emissions and, therefore, just being a problem. We would like some work to be done to better reflect what farming does as a whole, because then farming would be able to tell its story fairly. At the moment, it feels more like farming is being attacked, because it does not seem like all the good that we do is represented.

We have to work within certain structures in relation to the inventory, because of internationally agreed standards, but if it were possible to arrange for some sort of shadow way of accounting that enabled that story to be told, that would be a positive thing, because it would enable proper acknowledgment of what the industry is doing.

Pete Ritchie

We agree with that, but we also think that it is important that individual farmers know how they are doing and can get some feedback on that. That is why we want the new farm support scheme to focus much more on a whole-farm plan, so that people can look at a range of factors, with climate change front and centre. Those factors include estimated breeding values, soil compaction, animal health, woodland planting, carbon emissions from farm machinery and the use of fertiliser, slurry and manure. The whole-farm plan should consider all of those factors and examine what sort of things the farmer would need to do to make improvements in that regard over five years.

I completely agree with Kate Rowell’s earlier point; we need farmers to be much more data-driven and we need to have much more data at our fingertips about how we are doing and how we are getting better. After the next round of farm support, there is an opportunity to use the whole-farm plan model to help farmers to put climate change front and centre in their planning and to support them to make changes—not one year at a time but over at least five years.

Kate Rowell

Our farm is part of a pilot project that is run by the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society called carbon positive. I think that it wants to roll out a system whereby every farm has a number that shows what it is contributing positively, so that farmers do not always feel that they are starting right at the back and that the job is just too big. If you have a positive figure and a negative figure, and you can see where things can be fixed, you have something to aim for. If you have only a negative figure, where is the incentive to do anything? That project is due to be reported on soon, and I strongly urge you to read that report.

The Convener

John Scott has a question about the climate change plan itself.

John Scott

How should changes to agricultural practices, including the use of fertilisers, feeds and so on, be prioritised in the next climate change plan?

Professor Reay

I have some fairly negative opinions about the climate change plan’s provisions in terms of action and metrics of success. In the context of everything that we have discussed today, what would be great is something that is verifiable.

For example, we need a nitrogen budget for Scotland, but at the farm level, where it really counts, we need support mechanisms to be in place to improve nitrogen use and efficiency. That comes down to soil testing, beyond pH, and nutrient budgets at farm level, just as Pete Ritchie was describing. Having that as a policy that is supported, rather than as an ambition, which is what a lot of the stuff about nitrogen in the climate change plan at the moment comes across as, would signal the urgency of the matter.

We cannot be sitting here in 10 years’ time saying, “Agriculture’s still not really done much”—we do not have that luxury in respect of either climate change globally or the action that we need to take in Scotland. We need to give the climate change plan for agriculture more teeth, and we need to go from the target of an 8 per cent reduction by 2032 to something more like the 20 per cent reduction target that the Committee on Climate Change recommends.

John Scott

Do you agree that there is an opportunity, as Andrew Midgley said, to portray the good things that agriculture can do? From listening to all that has been said this morning, would you agree that there is a need to work collaboratively, through organisations such as SAOS and SEFARI, to bring that about? The veterinary term “synergistically” has been used—when you work together, the total is greater than the sum of the parts if each of you is working in an individual silo.

Professor Reay

I reiterate that we cannot make the mistake that Denmark made. Everyone needs to be brought together, and we are well placed to do that. There is some great expertise in Scotland, in the scientific and academic communities and right the way through to practice on the ground, so that opportunity is there for us.

Pete Ritchie

An advisory service that is proactive, comprehensive and fit for purpose can join up some of the stuff that, as scientists are finding it out, we can practise on the ground. At the moment, the advisory service is not quite cutting it, in my view.

John Scott

I could not agree more.

Patrick Krause

I agree with the synergy aspect of this. We have a climate change plan, an environmental strategy, a biodiversity strategy and a woodland expansion plan, and we are going to see an Agriculture Bill. I would add to that list one more thing, which is much more holistic: I urge the committee to support the introduction of the good food nation bill, which encompasses a lot of this and demonstrates that synergetic approach.

Professor Wall

I echo the points already made and add that a lot of what we have talked about today concerns mitigation on a farm. John Scott has mentioned how we can work together synergistically across farms and across regions to tackle some of the big issues, particularly the complexities around nitrogen. There is also a supply chain, and Katy Dickson and Patrick Krause have referred to the range of acts that are trying to work together. We are talking about complicated interactions and we are trying to get farmers to understand in a world of fast-moving data and information. Although knowledge transfer and exchange have been useful in the past, we may need to take a new educational approach to the issue and link in with continued lifelong learning. The problem is big and it needs that sort of level of collaboration to work.

The Convener

We have run out of time, I am afraid. I will let Andrew Midgley make a very brief point.

Andrew Midgley

We mentioned origin green earlier. Farmers are running businesses. If we can speak their language and make an opportunity of the drive in that direction, the Government can lead the way.

The Convener

I thank all the witnesses for their evidence, which has been extremely valuable. We could probably have gone on for another 90 minutes, but they will be glad to hear that this part of the meeting has now come to a close.

10:59 Meeting suspended.  



11:08 On resuming—  



The Convener

I am delighted to welcome our second panel, which will look at freight transport in the context of the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill. We are joined by Dr Andy Jefferson, programme director at Sustainable Aviation; Rebecca Kite, environment policy manager at the Freight Transport Association; and Martin Reid, policy director at the Road Haulage Association. Good morning.

I will start by asking a similar question to the one that we asked our agriculture witnesses earlier. How well have approaches encouraging low-carbon freight transport worked to date? What has worked? What has not worked?

Martin Reid (Road Haulage Association)

We must acknowledge the different stance that the Scottish Government has taken to low-emission zones. The lead-in time for the introduction of low-emission zones in Scotland has been far more sympathetic to the industry than it has been south of the border. In our view, it is incredibly helpful to have a reasonable lead-in time, particularly as the technology tries to catch up with the requirements for the road haulage industry. At the moment, there is no retrofit option that is accredited under the clean vehicle retrofit accreditation scheme, although such options are starting to filter in. We appreciate the additional time that has been allowed to enable the technology for our industry to catch up so that we can get to where we need to be. The reaction of some of the cities south of the border has left far shorter lead-in times.

The Convener

Does anyone else want to point to things that have worked or not worked?

Dr Andy Jefferson (Sustainable Aviation)

Obviously, I look at the issue from an aviation perspective rather than a road freight perspective. It is extremely helpful to have long-term targets and ambitions from the point of view of giving a signal to the industry on the need to reduce carbon emissions. The aviation sector has the long-term goal of halving the 2005 level of carbon emissions by 2050. We have had that goal for a while, and we are making good progress. In the past 10 years, we have delivered aviation growth across the UK, including in Scotland, without increasing carbon emissions, which is a step in the right direction. We have delivered that through an improvement of around 12 per cent in the fuel efficiency of aircraft and flying. That has enabled growth without increasing carbon emissions. Going forward, we have plans for the use of sustainable aviation fuels and aerospace technology innovations in engines and airframes, which we can talk about in more detail later.

Having a clear long-term target and ambition is extremely helpful in sending a signal to the industry and providing time for investment in long-term technology solutions, as well as the shorter-term operational changes.

The Convener

Has that process been driven by your sector?

Dr Jefferson

It has involved a combination of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, the UK position, the EU position and the international position. The aviation industry operates around the globe, so we are influenced by a variety of signals. Having consistent signals that all say that there is a need to decarbonise—the industry completely agrees that that is the case—is helpful in enabling the industry to build in the right investment plans and to work out how to operate the airspace more efficiently and how to invest in new technologies to decarbonise.

The Convener

Both of you have mentioned things that the Government has done, but is there consumer demand—or client demand—for such measures? Many people like to talk about air miles when it comes to their food.

Dr Jefferson

Absolutely—civil society is increasingly concerned about climate change. The membership of Sustainable Aviation represents airlines, airports, manufacturers and air traffic controllers in the UK, and we are all committed to playing our part in addressing climate change. Aviation contributes around 12 per cent of emissions at UK level and 2 per cent at a global level. Our role is to minimise that and to work across the industry on a range of measures to achieve it.

The signal with regard to people buying tickets to fly is probably different from that with regard to the purchasing of a product that has been air freighted and what the carbon footprint, in air miles terms, of that product is. Those two things are slightly different, so the signals are slightly mixed when it comes to what the aviation industry gets back from consumers. We are certainly committed to decarbonising—that is locked into the system. If anything, the society perspective is helping us to do that and to put pressure on to accelerate reductions.

Rebecca Kite (Freight Transport Association)

I manage the logistics emissions reduction scheme, which is a voluntary, industry-led initiative that focuses on recording and reporting the carbon footprint of its members. It is now in its eighth year, and it has consistently reduced that carbon footprint. It has exceeded the efforts of the industry as a whole. It has demonstrated things that have worked, such as driver fuel efficiency training, making sure that tyres are properly inflated, fitting aerodynamics to trucks, the trialling of alternative fuels and the use of kinetic energy recovery systems. Those measures have consistently produced successful results.

As well as recording the carbon footprint of its members, the scheme supports them—it has its own website, which provides members with information and guidance on how to reduce their emissions.

11:15  



The Convener

All three of you are talking about things that your own industry or sector is doing. Do you look to other countries for good practice? Could Scotland be looking to other countries for good practice in terms of Government initiatives?

Dr Jefferson

From an aviation point of view, in the UK we tend to be at the forefront of a lot of the developments. Certainly, through the aviation sector’s sustainable aviation coalition, the UK was the first country to produce a carbon road map for aviation emissions and set out its blueprint for how it wants to halve net carbon emissions from aviation by 2050. That led to European and global conversations to develop similar plans.

We have been at the forefront of that and we are also doing work around sustainable aviation fuels, which are fuels that will deliver a 60 per cent life-cycle carbon saving over using fossil-based jet fuel. There is work that is looking at, for example, converting landfill waste and waste-gas emissions from industrial processes into jet fuel. Both schemes are working with projects that are supported by fuel innovation companies.

The Convener

A couple of members are having difficulty hearing you. Perhaps you could adjust your microphone and speak a little more slowly.

Dr Jefferson

Sorry. I was saying that the sustainable aviation fuel market is in its infancy, but we have done a lot of work in the past four years and are pretty well at the forefront of the conversation about how we incentivise those fuels to be produced. Clearly, as an aviation industry coalition, we are users but not makers of fuel, so our challenge is how we work with people who can make the fuel and work with Governments to generate the right policy environment and the signals so that we see those sorts of fuels being developed here in Scotland and in the UK.

There is more work to be done, but we have two good examples of progress. First, there was the inclusion of sustainable aviation fuels in the renewable transport fuel obligation, which the UK Government did at the end of last year and the beginning of this year. The second example was the establishment of a partnership group between Government and industry, so we have a sustainable aviation fuels special interest group that is working with Innovate UK and ourselves on how we bring together the different players—the fuel producers, the sustainable fuel producers and the industry—and deal with the challenge of how we scale up the development of those innovation technologies and create the fuels in volumes that will make that difference.

Our forecasts show that by 2050 we could be reducing carbon from UK aviation by 24 per cent by introducing those fuels, so it is a significant opportunity and probably the most significant opportunity for long-haul flights. For short-haul flights, the aerospace industry is heavily involved with the Aerospace Technology Institute, which again is a UK Government-industry partnership that is looking at future technologies.

A lot of work at the moment is looking at the electrification of aviation, which is really interesting and has exploded to come on in leaps and bounds over the past few years. I think that we will see some steps forward from where we are today to hybrid types of aircraft or hybrid electric aircraft, certainly on the short-haul flights to and from Europe. At the moment, there are challenges because of the weight of batteries required for long-haul flights, which is where sustainable aviation fuels can be a real opportunity.

The technology innovation that has happened up to now with companies such as Rolls-Royce, Airbus and Boeing means that we have reduced the carbon intensity of aviation substantially, so that the target going forward is a 75 per cent reduction in carbon from new technology by 2050, compared to the 2000 level. There are significant further opportunities.

From a Government point of view, whether that be the Scottish Government, the UK Government or others, it is about how we maximise the innovation opportunities and support them with the right policy signals to secure the investments. Obviously, we are talking about billions of pounds-worth of investment over time to create the new technologies. That is what the aerospace growth partnership between the UK Government and the UK aerospace industry is all about. I think that there are further opportunities for Scotland in that.

Stewart Stevenson

I am a qualified pilot, albeit a private pilot with various ratings.

We are trying to focus on air freight rather than passenger transport, and a lot of what we are hearing from you is about the industry as a whole. At Edinburgh airport, there is barely a freight airframe that is less than 10 years old, and a lot of them are more than 20 years old. Freight is using that old technology and a lot of the discourse here does not really apply to it. What is the aviation freight industry doing to improve things? I have seen no evidence of it re-engineing or changing its aerodynamic profile by using winglets and so on. What is the air freight industry doing? It is using some pretty old and relatively fuel-inefficient kit, is it not?

Dr Jefferson

First, I apologise. I had not realised that we would be looking purely at air freight today, so I am probably not as well briefed on that as I could be. However, I am happy to take the point away and provide some evidence after the meeting, if that would help the committee.

I can say that fuel is the second biggest cost for an airline, whether it is a cargo or a passenger airline. It should be borne in mind that a lot of freight gets carried in the holds of passenger aircraft. Fuel is the second biggest bill, so airlines are focused on the need to minimise it. They are constantly looking at how they can operate the aircraft as efficiently as possible by flying as short a route as possible between A and B, for example, although that raises the challenge of airspace change and modernisation, which I understand is an on-going challenge up here in Scotland as much as it is across the rest of the UK. Airspace modernisation certainly provides the opportunity to reduce UK aviation carbon emissions by 10 per cent by 2050.

From my limited understanding of cargo airline-specific operations, I see a couple of incentives. There is the cost of fuel and, in the future, all airlines across the globe will take part in the global carbon offset scheme that was established through the International Civil Aviation Organization. That scheme comes into operation in 2021 and airlines will have to monitor, report on and verify their emissions starting on 1 January next year to create a baseline for the system. The system is designed to ensure that there is no net increase in carbon emissions from aviation from 2020 onwards. Any additional emissions that an airline creates above its 2020 level will have to be paid for through an offset scheme.

I explained that because it will put additional costs on top of operating costs on to a freight airline as much as it will on to a passenger airline. That will incentivise the need to reduce. Those schemes are on top of the existing European emissions trading scheme, which also applies a carbon cost to operating.

There are incentives for cargo airlines as much as passenger airlines to reduce emissions. There are signals there, but could they be stronger or more positive? Could we be incentivising those airlines to use more sustainable fuels? I am sure that we could.

Finlay Carson

You have already covered some of the ways that you will change the transport sector. How will each of your sectors have to change to achieve a 90 per cent reduction and a net zero target? What specific interventions will you make to make that a possibility?

Martin Reid

There has been a real increase in telematics and how we record data on efficiencies for trucks. The telematics allow us to analyse braking. As part of the education process, we have come to understand the effects of harsh braking on the environment. We also understand the effects of tyre wear and degradation. Telematics is able to help us to record that side of things. For example, when a transport manager is reading a printout, they can tell whether somebody has hit the brakes very hard 300 miles away because they can see the data. They can ask what happened, whether the driver was going too fast, whether something happened that caused the driver to brake harshly, and so on. That is an example of the on-going conversations that happen every day and of the part that telematics plays.

We will, however, be beholden to the new technologies that are coming in. Rebecca Kite mentioned that a number of trials are going on of a number of different fuel sets, but the trials are small and the data is new.

Information on cost is in its infancy. The Malcolm Group rolled out a new gas truck last Friday, 9 November, at Transport News’s Scottish Rewards. It will go on the road next month, but the Malcolm Group still does not know the cost. The manufacturer wants the group to trial the truck and see how it gets on and then talk money after that. That is the grey area that surrounds things. It is not necessarily helpful, but that is where we are. There is no point in pretending otherwise.

Saying what would be needed to make the difference between 90 per cent and net zero would mean throwing a finger in the air. We are at a stage where we cannot predict, because of the lack of technological back up, although we have the industry’s goodwill to do it.

Dr Jefferson talked about cost. Fuel costs are massive for a haulier. We operate in an industry where margins are typically 2 to 3 per cent. A haulier can wait 60 to 90 days to get paid for a job, but the fuel bill will come in on seven days. Hauliers already bear an unreasonable amount of risk within the supply chain. When swingeing changes are made, they have to be backed by a sensible economic process that hauliers can see the benefit of.

In answer to the question, we do not know what the difference between a 90 per cent reduction and a 100 per cent reduction will be. We hope that technology will have caught up by that point and that we will have had robust data that will convince hauliers to take that leap. Any Government help would be most welcome, so if the committee feels like getting the cheque books out and helping us to upgrade, we would be delighted.

The Convener

I have a small question about telematics. Are they linked to hauliers’ insurance? Are there benefits in the data being put to insurers?

Martin Reid

Insurers are getting increasingly observant about everything that goes on.

The Convener

Is that another potential incentive?

Martin Reid

Absolutely. Even more than the insurers, it is also a requirement for the traffic commissioner for Scotland’s office.

The road haulage industry is more heavily regulated than most others, including the aviation industry. The traffic commissioner has the power to put sanctions on an operator’s licence or remove an operator’s licence if the promises made in the application are not upheld. The collection and production of data are part of those promises.

Finlay Carson

I think that you are suggesting that there is not enough incentive or encouragement from the Government to go that bit further. Are there policies to recognise what the sector is doing to tackle climate change? Are you being rewarded for the work that you have done, or should there be policy changes to recognise that work?

Martin Reid

It is difficult to say whether we are being rewarded or not. I do not think that we are. Virtue is its own reward in this case. We are all trying to get to a point where carbon emissions are down.

I mentioned the low-emission zones earlier. Our industry is moving apace towards Euro 6 engines. In 2017, Euro 6 engines represented about 36 per cent of the fleet. In 2019, that is expected to be 50 per cent. By the time that the low-emission zone comes in in Glasgow, it should be about 78 per cent. That is through natural churn—the average life of a truck is 10 to 12 years. As processes move on, trucks with Euro 6 engines come into the second-hand market.

However, putting the onus on Euro 6, which is still diesel and therefore fossil-fuel powered, in one sense takes us away from the net zero carbon side of things. It does, however, allow more leeway so that the truck manufacturers can catch up and get us to the point at which the investment in technology can help.

John Scott

Is there an opportunity for the industries that you represent, as well as the marine industry, which is not represented today, to encourage the development of carbon-reducing fuels if you together say loudly and clearly to the fuel companies that you want that? I dare say that you are all doing that individually, but is there an opportunity to make more of that pressure on the oil companies?

11:30  



Martin Reid

Yes, there will be. However, at the end of the day, the oil companies have to sell oil, so they will do everything that they can to ensure that their products are what is required moving forward. I guess that, given the different grades that we require, we each look after our own side of things—it is not a case of “never the twain shall meet”, although there are divergent interests—but I certainly have no objections to that suggestion.

Dr Jefferson

Such opportunities probably exist. That is something to take away and have a think about.

When Sustainable Aviation developed the sustainable aviation fuels road map in 2014, there were no big oil companies talking to us about the initiatives that we were looking at, such as turning landfill waste or waste gas emissions into jet fuel. However, we now have two projects—one with British Airways and one with Virgin Atlantic—and both Shell and BP are involved in those, so things have moved on at quite a pace in four years.

The sustainable aviation fuel production facilities that we are looking at could potentially co-process—they could produce jet fuel and biodiesel or some other form of fuel. There are such opportunities. In the past few years, we have been understanding the technology innovation opportunities and trying to support and nurture those to a commercial scale by upping production. We are hopeful that we will see sustainable fuel production plants in the UK in 2020, if not before then.

Claudia Beamish

I want to explore a bit more the issue of transformational change to reduce emissions in the freight transport sector, perhaps through modal shift from road to rail or to cycles for small deliveries in cities in order to minimise heavy goods vehicle deliveries. We have touched on new technologies, but could we hear from each of you on that issue? I will then ask a supplementary question about research and support.

Dr Jefferson

It is probably harder to do modal shift for air freight, certainly with stuff that comes from Africa or further afield. There is a small marginal opportunity to look at rail versus air on the UK domestic scale, and I think that the Committee on Climate Change is going to look at that. It is planning an update on its aviation carbon report in quarter 1 of next year, and it will look at that issue. Our view has always been that, broadly speaking, there are limited opportunities to switch from air freight to ground-based transport.

That said, a lot of work is being done on urban air mobility and using larger versions of drones to deliver express freight parcels and things like that. If those can be delivered using electric sources or renewable energy, that will obviously have the potential to reduce emissions. That is an interesting area that is still in its infancy.

Rebecca Kite

In the scheme that I mentioned, we have awards, and we find that quite a few members are utilising mode shift where they can. We have figures on the carbon that they have saved—I do not have those to hand, but I can send them to the committee. However, we should be wary of reducing the number of heavy goods vehicles that are making deliveries. That issue is coming up a lot, especially as local authorities are considering clean air zones and introducing consolidation centres to break down the contents of big vehicles and put them on smaller vehicles. That has the potential to increase emissions, because it could increase congestion.

Claudia Beamish

Surely, that depends on the fuel that is used. If they were electric vehicles, it would not increase emissions, would it?

Rebecca Kite

But there will still be other traffic on the road, so—

Claudia Beamish

I am asking you about freight. You said that emissions could be increased, but could emissions not be reduced if electric vehicles were used? I have seen how, in other cities—in France, for instance—only small electric vans are allowed to go through certain barriers.

Rebecca Kite

Even if there were zero emissions from the tailpipe, there would still be tyre-wear, brake-wear and road-wear emissions. If you break it down, a 44-tonne truck can carry 25 vans’ worth of goods. Those 25 vans might be zero-emission vehicles, but they might be on the road along with other vehicles that might not be producing zero emissions, and increasing congestion would increase emissions.

Martin Reid

I echo those comments. At the moment, 90 per cent of everything that you wear, eat, drink or sit on is in the back of a lorry at some point. An equally sensible debate to have alongside that on modal shift is on the requirement for a fully integrated transport network. To encourage modal shift, where that is appropriate, you need to provide alternatives, and I do not think that the infrastructure is there yet.

A number of our members use rail and road, but we should remember that, although road can survive without rail, rail cannot survive without road—the same goes for the aviation industry, the ports and so on. Lorries take things to a port from a port, to an airport from an airport and to a train from a train. All those things are going to spend a bit of time on the back of a lorry. To make that system as seamless as possible requires a fully integrated transport network, not just a modal shift.

The Convener

We have only 15 minutes left of this evidence session, so I must ask for short questions and reasonably tight answers.

Mark Ruskell

Could a technological step-change in aviation be coming? I was interested to see a picture of the Varialift airship, which is currently being developed in France. Could that kind of technology make current air-freight technology redundant?

Dr Jefferson

I am not familiar with the airship idea.

Mark Ruskell

It is being developed in France, and it is 12 storeys high and goes at 280mph. It seems like the stuff of the future to me, but it is a real thing.

Dr Jefferson

Absolutely. A lot in the technology space offers opportunities, but sustainable aviation is paying more attention to how we transform the traditional tube-and-wing concept of an aircraft into something much more efficient than it is today. A series of steps can be taken. In our carbon road map, we have identified a 40 per cent or so carbon reduction potential through the introduction of new technology and the introduction of those new aeroplanes into UK aviation by 2050. Moreover, when we did that work, we excluded electrification, hybrid electric vehicles and other such ideas.

It is still early days—as I have said, the Committee on Climate Change will look at the issue in the first quarter of next year—but significant carbon savings can be made from moving to electrification, with hybrid as the first step for short-haul flights and sustainable fuels for longer hauls. A range of things out there could make a big change.

The Convener

I apologise to the members whom I have not been able to bring in, but we must move on to our next theme, which is consumer behaviour.

John Scott

Is it realistic or likely that consumers will change their behaviour by either flying less or purchasing fewer goods that have been transported long distances by road, air or rail? How do you see consumer behaviour driving change in your industries?

Dr Jefferson

I will answer that question as briefly as I can from an aviation perspective. At this stage, we are seeing a drive more from corporates and investors in aviation companies and less from the consumer. The biggest challenge will come when carbon pricing comes into play through carbon offsetting and the international carbon scheme. That could impact on demand, but, at the moment, we are working to the Government’s aviation forecast, which assumes around a doubling in air travel between 2010 and 2050. Our analysis is that, if we can deliver that additional growth with no additional carbon in absolute terms, we can reduce net carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2050 through carbon offsetting.

Martin Reid

The difficulty is the consumer need to have everything in 24 hours. People have a couple of glasses of wine, go on eBay and order something from eastern Europe and it arrives the next day. Stopping such consumer expectations would be difficult, but Brexit might do that for us anyway.

The Convener

I recently heard on the radio about the Chinese black Friday—I cannot remember what it is called. People are using that as a new opportunity to go online and buy electronic goods. Again, the temptation to do that makes achieving our goals more difficult.

Mark Ruskell has questions about the assessment of the costs and benefits of mitigating climate change.

Mark Ruskell

That is my question really. Have you done any short-term and long-term analysis of those costs? I know that it is difficult to do that because, as you have said, you cannot predict today what technology we will be using in 25 years’ time. What assessments have you done at this time of the economic costs of mitigation?

Martin Reid

Those costs are not available yet. Companies are doing individual trials, but the findings are not public. In terms of our being able to do anything along those lines, the cost benefit analysis of moving things forward is very limited.

I return to my earlier point about the margins that we are operating to. Finding any efficiencies whatsoever is very welcome—if there is the smallest hint that mitigation is working financially, people will jump at the idea.

We must remember that the amount of R and D that truck manufacturers are doing is probably not at the level that we want it to be at. They are not selling trucks as much as they used to—the number of truck registrations is going down. The gap between the costs of Euro 5 and Euro 6 and of trading up from one to the other is massive, partly because of the requirements of the low-emission zones. Therefore, even for adopters, the barriers to market entry are bigger than they used to be.

Dr Jefferson

For aviation, there are a series of costs, including the technology investment costs in making a new aeroplane and a new engine, which amount to billions of pounds. As I have described, that works through the aerospace growth partnership between the UK Government and the UK aerospace industry, whereby there is a joint investment and commitment to the vision of the 75 per cent reduction in carbon from aviation technology.

On top of that, the airlines have incentives to minimise fuel costs. Our challenge is that sustainable fuels cost more than fossil-based fuel does. Consequently, it was important to include sustainable aviation fuels in the renewable transport fuel obligations, because that helps to level the playing field for the price.

The third big area for us is airspace modernisation, which enables more direct and therefore efficient flights.

Those are the issues that we are focused on. The cost of fuel and, increasingly, the cost of carbon offsets will act as incentives to drive the investment in new technology.

The Convener

Finlay Carson has questions to do with buy-in.

Finlay Carson

How can we get the Scottish Government to secure buy-in from the various transport sectors for action to meet climate change targets? I touched on the issue of policy incentives, but how can each sector get the Government to do more to get you to buy into climate change adaptation and mitigation?

11:45  



Martin Reid

For us, a major issue is the need to remove, in some way, the financial barriers to upgrading or to help and support. The ideal scenario would be a scrappage scheme, but that would involve an awful lot of money, and we know that that is not likely to happen. Perhaps grants could be made available, particularly to small and medium-sized enterprises that want to engage. The larger companies will have their own R and D and their own natural churn that they operate to, whereas for the smaller SMEs—the guys who are harder to engage with—something along the lines of a support network to try the new fuels and even to upgrade to Euro 6 would be very welcome in the meantime.

Rebecca Kite

It is also important to give industry certainty, as a big investment is involved and it needs to trust that the technology will work. The UK Government recently released its strategy “The Road to Zero: Next steps towards cleaner road transport and delivering our Industrial Strategy”. The strategy will define what is classed as an ultra-low-emission truck. It is hoped that that definition will give manufacturers something to work towards, which will provide vehicles for operators to purchase. It is also running gas trials to analyse whether there are any emission savings to be had by going over to gas.

Dr Jefferson

I echo the need for a long-term signal. That is important for long-term investment in new aircraft and engines.

There are a couple of things to say about aviation specifically. Airspace change can offer carbon reductions, but that has been delayed because of concerns about noise around airports and how the changes would affect people. It is important that we find the right solution to the noise and carbon issues as quickly as we can and that we see the bigger benefits that airspace modernisation will bring. The Scottish Government can play a role in doing that in the debates in Scotland.

It is also important to avoid policy measures that could create unintended consequences, such as carbon leakage. A carbon tax on aviation, for instance, could create problems if a greater cost was created for operating flights from Scotland compared with the cost of operating flights from England, Europe or somewhere else. There is a real risk that we could create a disconnect in what we want to achieve, as people would fly to Europe by getting a cheaper flight rather than getting a direct flight from Scotland.

Martin Reid

We cannot have a one-size-fits-all solution. That is the other issue that I would look to the Government to get a handle on. Regardless of the technologies that are likely to come, it will be some time—if it ever happens—before there are power outages for electric batteries for heavy haulage, for example. That is way in the distance and probably beyond the horizon of what will happen in my lifetime. It is not a simple case of saying that all engines need to be this by that date; there must be a greater understanding of the practicalities and problems in particular parts of road haulage and, I am sure, in aviation as well.

The Convener

We will move on to questions from Richard Lyle. I apologise to Finlay Carson, but we are running out of time.

Richard Lyle

Christmas is coming fast, and you guys are already delivering Christmas goods to shops. What is in your letter to Santa? How should changes to freight transport be prioritised in the next climate change plan?

Martin Reid

That is a good question.

Richard Lyle

I thought that you would like it.

Martin Reid

I encourage a sensible and pragmatic approach rather than a knee-jerk reaction. As Rebecca Kite pointed out, having something to aim for and a realistic timescale is absolutely essential for us. As I have said, we are talking about a massive part of the UK economy. The way that freight moves is absolutely essential for us, and it is essential that hauliers come along with the message, as it is much easier to pull along somebody who is standing side by side than it is to drag them when they do not want to go.

The message has to be positive. I sat in on the discussions this morning, and there is a lot to be learned from them. We need to accentuate the positives along with the negatives, and we must ensure that there is something achievable for everybody and praise people who are making the effort to do something.

That would be my wee message to Santa as we move forward.

Dr Jefferson

From an aviation perspective, a couple of things are important. We need to have a long-term signal on the carbon ambition that we are all aiming for. We are pretty clear on that, but we would be keen to work with the committee to explain where we are at and what we are trying to achieve, and to look at how the policy signals can be aligned to help us achieve that ambition as quickly as we can. That applies to sustainable aviation fuel production, the technology revolution and airspace modernisation. In aviation, quite a lot of investment will come through the carbon offset market, so there is a question about the opportunities that that might offer Scotland.

The Convener

To anyone who is watching, I point out that Santa delivers his presents by reindeer and sleigh.

Martin Reid

Coca-Cola uses a big lorry.

The Convener

Yes.

I am sorry that I need to bring the session to a close, but we have run out of time. I thank the witnesses for giving their time this morning.

11:50 Meeting suspended.  



11:53 On resuming—  



The Convener

I am delighted to welcome our third panel, which will look at active and public transport in the context of the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill. We are joined by Ian Findlay, the chief officer of Paths for All; Keith Irving, the chief executive of Cycling Scotland; Andy Cope, the director of the insight, research and monitoring unit at Sustrans; Bruce Kiloh, the head of policy and planning at Strathclyde partnership for transport; and Jess Pepper, enterprise manager for Transform Scotland.

What work has the Government done so far that has helped with active travel and public transport, and what has worked not so well?

Ian Findlay (Paths for All)

The doubling of the active travel budget has been extremely welcome and has worked well. There is greater integration between policy areas—in particular, between public health and transport. Active travel being seen as a health prescription has been a very welcome addition. Using a combination of infrastructure and behaviour-change measures to deliver active travel and sustainable travel outcomes has also worked really well.

On what is not working quite so well, we need to accelerate the modal shift away from the private motor car to walking and cycling for short journeys, and to public transport for longer journeys. The statistics show that the figures are fairly static. One of the key things is to find ways of making active and sustainable travel the natural and first choice for all of us—walking and cycling for very short journeys and public transport for longer journeys.

Bus travel is significant because it accounts for about 76 per cent of all public transport journeys. However, in the context of the Transport (Scotland) Bill and the evidence that has been taken on it, we see that bus patronage is going down, while fares are going up. It is important to tackle that issue. It is also important to consider the first mile and the last mile in the context of public transport. The first and last miles of most public transport journeys are either walked or cycled.

Finally, we need even more links between planning and transport policy. Planning can either frustrate active and sustainable travel or it can be a big driver for it. Through the Planning (Scotland) Bill, there is an opportunity to ensure that planning helps to deliver active and sustainable travel outcomes.

The Convener

Do other panellists have points to make on what has worked, what has not worked and what could work better?

Keith Irving (Cycling Scotland)

There are more people cycling and there are workplaces, campuses and areas of cities and towns in Scotland where approaching one in 10 journeys is made by bike. For example, with the new Borders railway, 14 per cent of passengers cycle to get to Eskbank station and 60 per cent walk or cycle to get to Newtongrange station. Investment is delivering results in those areas. It is also clear that Edinburgh and Glasgow in particular are now making major investments in cycling and are seeing an increase in its modal share as a result. Progress is being made, but clearly it needs to continue over a much longer timeframe, because major behaviour change is required in order to meet the climate change aspirations.

Bruce Kiloh (Strathclyde Partnership for Transport)

There is a bit of a mixed picture. Rail patronage has gone up and we have seen the benefit from the significant investment in rail. However, bus patronage, in particular in the west of Scotland—SPT’s area—has gone down significantly by more than 60 million journeys over the past 10 years, which is 27 per cent. There is therefore good and bad news.

Again, as the other panellists have said, there has been progress in integration and there is greater recognition of transport’s contribution to economic growth. However, members are perhaps aware that in 2015 transport overtook energy production as the biggest carbon emitter, so there is a mixed bag in that regard, as well. As Ian Findlay said, the contribution of transport and active travel to physical and mental health is now mainstream. Generally, investment in cycling and active travel over the past seven to 10 years has seen a welcome and massive step change, and we are already seeing the results.

There has been good investment by the Scottish Government and SPT, and by the operators in terms of vehicles, disruptive technologies, mobilities of service and ultra-low emission vehicles—the innovative side of transport. However, there needs to be more investment because we still have a long way to go if we are to achieve the bill’s climate change targets.

12:00  



The Convener

You said that bus travel has gone down and rail travel has gone up. What are the reasons for that?

Bruce Kiloh

There is a range of reasons. An excellent report that was recently done by KPMG for the Confederation of Passenger Transport looked at the reasons for the significant decrease in bus travel. I mentioned the west of Scotland, because that is where the vast majority of the decrease has happened. In the Lothians, there has been a slight downturn over the past year or two, but over the period that I am talking about, there was a reduction of 27 per cent, or 60 million journeys, in the west of Scotland while—if I remember correctly—bus travel grew by about five million journeys in the Lothians.

As is so often the case in Scotland, there is no one-size-fits-all reason. The decrease has been partly societal. Another reason is that the west of Scotland has a fantastic rail network—it has the biggest suburban rail network outside London, with more than 180 stations and fantastic penetration. For example, it takes only an hour to get from Ayr to Glasgow Central.

The Convener

Edinburgh has a fantastic and very well used bus service.

Bruce Kiloh

Indeed. That service is a great offer. There is no denying that Lothian Buses is one of our model bus companies and provides a best-practice example for the UK. It also has one of the youngest bus fleets in the country.

Someone talked earlier about integration of planning and transport. We have a long way to go with regard to giving priority to public transport on the roads, and with regard to parking and so on. I could spend the rest of the day talking about the reasons for the situation, but those are some.

Jess Pepper (Transform Scotland)

What works well is a good service in which investment has been made—I include the Borders railway and the bus service in the city of Edinburgh—which has good connectivity, is reliable and accessible, and which people want to use. As a result of that, numbers grow and are sustained. I agree with the other panellists.

The Germans use the useful phrase “avoid, shift, improve”; Government programmes concentrate mainly on the “improve” aspect with regard to efficiency, electric vehicles and so on, but what we need is a move to “avoid” and “shift”. We are used to that sort of thing in waste reduction, with the reduce, reuse and recycle approach being culturally normal—we do not just go to the bottom rung of recycling. As a nation, we need to think about the same hierarchy with regard to travel and, in a cultural way, ask ourselves, “Do I need to make that journey? In what other way can I make it? Can I make it in a way that is good for my health? If I can’t avoid making the journey, how do I shift to another mode? What mode is the best one to use?” We should by all means improve modes, but we need to think through all those things at the same time.

Andy Cope (Sustrans)

I will respond to the opening question from the perspective of active travel. Achieving the potential of active travel depends on better options being offered and better choices being encouraged. That is partly about getting the package of measures right. That will need investment, but in the context of climate change—I am sure that the committee has heard this message a lot—it will be cheaper to make that investment now than it might be later.

The key achievement has been to double Transport Scotland’s investment in active travel. That has been incredible, but it is worth noting that Sustrans administers part of that Transport Scotland funding, and it has been well oversubscribed this time round. There is interest among local authorities in getting the infrastructure right.

That said, we probably need to make even more investment to realise the full potential of active travel. We need only compare what has been invested in Scotland with the Greater Manchester plan that Chris Boardman has put forward and which is worth £1.5 billion over 10 years. That is considerably more than the investment that is being made in Scotland.

We also need to strike a better balance between capital and revenue. A lot of the investment at the moment is in the capital side; we absolutely need to get the environment right, but we must also be able to encourage support for people to change their behaviours. As one of my fellow panellists has already pointed out, investment needs to be sustained in the long term—we need to know that it will be there for years to come. The three-year window is a big improvement on the one-year window that applied in the distant past, and it would be useful to know that the upcoming time span for investment was longer.

That must be in tandem with better traffic demand management. There is almost a juxtaposition of active travel and private car travel, and we need to get the balance right so that we encourage better choices through measures that not only support active travel but address travel demand issues.

Claudia Beamish

The witnesses have touched on quite a lot of the issues that I wanted to raise. What is your vision for achieving, in the more distant future, the transformational change that we need through active travel and public transport to meet our 90 per cent emissions reduction target—perhaps we will come to net zero emissions later—and up the game?

Ian Findlay

On one level, the answer is simple. The transport hierarchy puts walking and cycling first, followed by public transport and then use of private vehicles. My vision is that we would put in place policies, procedures and investment to give everyone the choice to move up the hierarchy. To build on Jess Pepper’s point, we should provide choice not just to avoid bad decisions but to encourage the best decisions. The transport hierarchy provides a good template for policies, decision making and investment to move our choices up the hierarchy.

Jess Pepper

There is a great opportunity. The Government could set a strong framework for that, invest in it and invest in the infrastructure to deliver it. As we have heard a number of times, industry and the public sector are keen to have such certainty, so that they can invest, innovate and change.

I will give an example of an ambition that we might aim for. The climate change plan aims for a policy outcome of increasing to 50 per cent by 2032 the proportion of the Scottish bus fleet that is low-emission vehicles. The projection for the world’s buses is that about 47 per cent will be electric by 2025, and 13 cities internationally are committed to buying only zero-emission buses from 2025—Shanghai and Shenzhen are already buying only such buses. That action involves 80 million people and 60,000 buses. If we are asking whether we should lead and be ahead of the curve or wait and follow others, we might be mindful that Scotland is home to two international bus operator companies. Scotland also makes buses and is a leader in producing clean electricity, so there are huge opportunities not only for our national bus fleet but for international activity in relation to buses to gain economic advantages.

We should not neglect the multiple benefits that are sometimes overlooked of bus and other public transport use. It connects with active travel and health, and it gives everybody—people from rural areas and all sorts of areas—the ability to access opportunities for education and jobs. We might aim for an ambition that could improve our society and allow us to take the global opportunity.

Keith Irving

The question was about our vision. I would like everyone aged eight to 80 to be able to cycle independently in their community. That would require a number of things, including a coherent and complete network of dedicated cycling routes in our cities and largest towns; universal access to a bike and to cycle training to enable people to cycle confidently in urban and rural areas; and the long-term horizon that Andy Cope mentioned. Although the aim should be delivered as fast as possible, it would require a long-term commitment over decades, such that it would be unthinkable that the investment programme would not continue year on year.

Bruce Kiloh

The question is timely. You will be aware that the Scottish Government is developing its new national transport strategy and is looking at a new vision and objectives for transport that will set the tone for the next 20 years. For me, the biggest issue that we face is reduction of overreliance on single-occupant car travel. It is the same; we have not managed to break that deadlock. To address that, we need to consider such things as better investment in public transport to make bus, train and subway travel more attractive in order to get people out of their cars. We need to attract people back on to public transport.

Jess Pepper made a point that is important to note, which was that there is probably now greater recognition of the value of public transport to our society. More people access the high street by bus, for example, than by any other mode, including private car, so if you want to improve town centres you should invest in bus travel. The answers are there for you to see.

As Ian Findlay said, the transport hierarchy is there to be followed. It is not rocket science. The biggest challenge that we face is in doing the things that we know we want to do, to reduce the need to travel and to reduce reliance on the private car in a world in which the demand for and supply of transport are fundamentally changing. Companies such as Uber and Lyft are encouraging people to use cars: that is a challenge that policy makers face for the coming years.

The answer is there in front of you. Our journey and the strategy that we employ will be the challenging part. As far as the national transport strategy is concerned, when the vision is correct and is published, that will set the tone for the future and it must be reflected in the forthcoming strategic transport projects review. That is a point that we have made time and again to Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government. Strategic transport projects are not just big roads, big railways or big bridges: they are also about active travel, including bus travel. As somebody said earlier, about 80 per cent of people in the west of Scotland travel by bus; that is the main public transport mode, so that scale needs to be reflected in future investment.

Mark Ruskell

Those are some interesting and attractive visions of how we might be travelling around in the future, but let us break this down a bit. The bill sets a clear target of 90 per cent reduction for 2050 and there is the opportunity to set a net zero target either for 2050 or for 2040. Let us say that net zero by 2040 is the gold standard. What would need to change to meet that challenging and ambitious target for transport? What would be the one or two things that would have to happen?

Andy Cope

That would need primarily investment in active travel. It is about getting the mix right. Panellists are presenting slightly different aspects of different modes—Sustrans’s particular perspective is on active travel, but we very much recognise that there is a public transport element that we need to get right and that there is a role for single-occupancy vehicles—ideally electric vehicles or low-emissions vehicles. You also asked about the vision for the future.

Mark Ruskell

I would like to know what specifically needs to happen, particularly in the next 12 years, given the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s advice, to get us on the trajectory to net zero emissions by 2040.

Andy Cope

The best start to getting us on that trajectory is to invest more heavily in walking and cycling, and in particular to emphasise the behaviour-change element in equal measure with the infrastructure and environment part.

Ian Findlay

What is interesting about active travel is that it is a form of behaviour change that changes one’s values. When you think of active travel, the first thing that you have to do is decide to change your behaviour in order to travel in a more active way. In order to do that, you need first to change your values.

I know that the committee has been looking at other ways in which to meet the transport emissions reduction targets as well as the targets on waste, agriculture and so on. Active travel is an efficient way into that. If people choose to travel more actively, they have already changed their value set and thought about their lifestyle in general—about issues such as their health, the local pound and how they purchase things. The value of active travel goes beyond just the value of the walking and cycling; it is in changing the way that people think about how they live. Therefore, it is a means through which to achieve greater climate change emission reductions.

12:15  



Bruce Kiloh

To reduce emissions from transport, the most logical thing is to make cleaner technology more widely available. The Government has made inroads into that in relation to electric vehicles, but we need to look across the board. Jess Pepper is absolutely right that, round the world, there is massive investment in workable electric bus systems, which are transporting unbelievable amounts of people. We need to look at that. Scotland has one of the leading bus manufacturers in the world in Alexander Dennis and has two of the main bus operator companies across the globe.

That is the high-level issue; the other thing is complementary measures. We need to ensure that we make change attractive to people. If we want people to leave their cars at home, we need to make the public transport offer more attractive to them.

We also need to look not just from the passenger point of view—we must also look at freight. Demand is increasing as a result of people shopping online. With black Friday coming up, we will see more and more vans on the street, and that number will only increase. It is not within the gift of even the Scottish Parliament or the Scottish Government to change all that, but we need to manage those issues over time. We need complementary measures including bus-priority measures and demand-management measures.

I was recently told that people would never think about taking their car into Edinburgh, but the same is not true for Glasgow. We need to look at that and take a more progressive approach to parking. Glasgow has fantastic motorways surrounding it—they are the arteries, but the heart is in some ways too small to cope with those arteries.

We can do it through technology, but we need to balance that with complementary measures.

Jess Pepper

Investing in public transport and active travel together so that there is sustainable transport will deliver for everybody and provide multiple benefits for society and for the health of our people and our planet.

There is a lot more opportunity to be taken with trains. Thinking about the strategic transport projects review and looking to the future, we need to work with industry to work out what investment is needed and when. Members may be familiar with the class 385 trains that are now running between Edinburgh and Glasgow. That is an electrified service that is attractive, reliable and connected, and it is a joy to ride on it. It is possible to have more electrification in Scotland, and not just on intercity routes. Scotland was a pioneer in battery powered trains in the 1950s. There are opportunities for rural routes as well.

We want to promote that vision, which could be accompanied by a Government-led modal-shift campaign—you would not call it that, but we have had those things in the past. One, which was more confrontational, was called “Learn to Let Go”, which was a negative approach. However, the approach could be about a fabulous transport system that people want to use because it is reliable, high quality and accessible in terms of price and geography. It could be about dispelling some of the assumptions and perceptions that there may have been in the past about using public transport. We could aspire to that clean active vision, which would have so many benefits across the board.

The Convener

Rhoda Grant has questions about how we can break people out of car usage.

Rhoda Grant

Yes—my questions are specifically about rural areas. Most of what we do in relation to cars is about penalising car usage in urban areas. We have fuel tax and low-emission zones and the like in urban areas, but we seem to ignore rural areas totally, because of car dependency. I suppose that people who live in rural areas get the comeback when they have to take their cars into city centres, pay more in fuel duty and the like.

People will often say, “These issues are far too hard to deal with. Let’s deal with the big problem first, and then worry about the other things down the line.” We do not want to drive people from rural areas, but we also need to make them less dependent on cars. How do we do that, given that all the cars that travel long distances and come into towns are from rural areas?

Jess Pepper

Part of the solution will be to invest in the public transport system and in buses; indeed, in some rural areas, it will be a big part. It is really important that we do not neglect these issues in rural areas, because the groups that will be most disadvantaged will be those that are already disadvantaged by poorer bus services—the younger folk, the older people and the people who might not have access to a car and therefore cannot get to health appointments or other opportunities. We need to think about all of that.

Again, the hierarchy will help us think about what solutions might be more appropriate. Perhaps we have to be creative and innovative in our solutions. In days gone by, for example, post buses filled some gaps in bus routes. Investment in buses and the whole public transport system should help, but we might need some creative innovation to fill in other gaps.

The Convener

I am from a rural area, but I do not use the bus, because it does not meet my needs; indeed, a lot of people do not use the service. It is run by a privately operated company, which wants to make money and will look at the overheads involved in running extra buses. How can you encourage more bus use when the service in question is not really a service?

Bruce Kiloh

This is a common issue. I was speaking to someone earlier about the concessionary travel scheme; people in rural areas have their cards, but they are unable to benefit from the policy of free travel for the over-60s, simply because the buses do not exist.

As for commercial operators, we try to look at things purely from the point of view of the bus, not its owner. There is a whole range of issues that operators face in trying to make services work; indeed, we faced that very issue in SPT. That is why we introduced the MyBus service for people in rural areas, who can register for what is demand-responsive transport. We have also utilised community transport by setting up the west of Scotland community transport network, and that has helped in some areas.

However, there is no getting away from the fact that the car will be the solution for some people in rural areas. We just have to accept that, but it moves us into the world that someone else asked about of relying on people transferring to electric vehicles, ensuing that charging points are available and so on.

Scotland is a fantastic place with some brilliant rural areas, but connecting them to the inclusive growth that we all want is going to be a challenge. I am not saying that it will be easy, but there are opportunities out there to deal with the issue.

Keith Irving

The evidence that the committee has taken from Sweden highlighted the huge benefits of electric cars in rural areas, particularly in tackling some cost issues. As Bruce Kiloh has said, the car will be the best option for many journeys in such areas, but the vast majority of short journeys are made in towns and cities, where there is the greatest potential for cycling and where, if we do not make the investment, we will not meet the zero carbon by 2040 target. This is about the integration of requirements. For example, people need to be able to park near a public transport system and parking needs to be managed so that car journeys finish before they come into towns and cities and do not lead to the kinds of traffic impacts that put people off walking or cycling in those towns and cities.

It all has to be brought together. The fact that there are rural challenges does not prevent action in urban areas to enable zero carbon active travel journeys—the two are not in competition.

Ian Findlay

The rural dimension is close to my heart. I live in Comrie in Perthshire, so all my travel is rural.

People should question whether travel for work is needed in the first place, in this digital age and with agile working. I now work much more than I used to from home or from other places locally that are only a walk or a cycle away. There are technological and workplace solutions to the need for travel.

I agree with Jess Pepper that public transport—bus and train services—is key. We need to find ways of making bus travel more delightful. It is not delightful at the moment in many rural places. It is not seen as an option for lots of people.

The car is inevitable. In places such as Comrie, car clubs and car sharing are becoming more common. The single occupancy private car journey from Comrie across to Langside and down to Dunblane railway station is becoming rarer, because there is an online car-share system within Comrie, through which an individual can link with others. That is another potential solution.

I agree that we must not lose the rural dimension in thinking about those issues.

Jess Pepper

In some cases, it will take dialogue with the industry or service provider to get that positive feedback loop on a service. I live in a rural area, and there was no early service for commuters. A subsidy was provided to support one and eventually there was enough uptake to allow it to be available the whole time. Sometimes it just needs a bit of investment to get a service going again. The buses have to have enough trade to keep them running. If they start to deplete, that runs down the service. A conversation needs to be had with the operators and industry about the potential and how to make the best of it.

The Convener

We will move to questions from Mark Ruskell.

Mark Ruskell

What structural system changes—individual policy measures and investments that the Government can make—may be needed to support this? Are there changes in the way that we plan and run transport systems and the economy that would help?

Bruce Kiloh

Yes. There are huge partnership opportunities, for example through the Transport (Scotland) Bill. There is the option to franchise or have municipal bus companies. There is a range of good and bad points about both those options, but there are opportunities for greater partnership within the bus industry. I am not sure how we make that work, because Scotland is an area of contrasts. There is one main operator in Edinburgh, and three main ones, plus another 47, I think, in Glasgow and the west of Scotland. We are hopeful that that bill will allow more partnership.

We need to look at the work that is being done through the national transport strategy about the roles and responsibilities within transport and how to make those work better. There is a case for change. There are long-held views about better integration between transport and land-use planning. We work closely with Clydeplan, our strategic development planning authority. The Planning (Scotland) Bill is looking at whether those plans should continue.

There has to be greater integration between transport and economic development, and more thinking about how transport can play a supporting role. If we want transformational change in how we approach transport, we need to look at the structures and make sure that we have the right ones in place to enable us to deliver.

12:30  



Ian Findlay

I take us back to the transport hierarchy. The structures follow the transport hierarchy. We place a high priority on road building and road maintenance, but we need to prioritise walking and cycling infrastructure maintenance. For example, in putting down salt in the winter, the priority should be to clear snow from walking and cycling routes as well as from roads. I am talking about a change of approach that involves prioritising the walking and cycling infrastructure as well as the roads infrastructure.

The Convener

Stewart Stevenson can ask a very short supplementary question.

Stewart Stevenson

I cannot ask the question if it must be short.

The Convener

Okay.

Keith Irving

I have two brief specific examples. On systematic change, the strategic transport projects review was mentioned earlier. The carbon impact of decisions has to be embedded into that, so that we end up with walking and cycling as the top priority.

On planning decisions, location is everything, and systemic change is about how we build much-needed houses in the right location. That means that the person who will live in the house will have low-carbon options for getting around, as people are too often car dependent.

Andy Cope

We need better approaches to the economic appraisal of transport. That is part of the systems approach. There are all sorts of weaknesses in there. I will not go into that territory now, as the area is very big, but we need to get it right.

An issue that we have not really mentioned is that travel patterns are changing a lot. We talked about that in the context of the extent to which we commute and travel to work. However, all sorts of changes are happening in urban and rural areas relating to, for example, the extent of delivery. More mature generations are more predisposed to car ownership, and perhaps younger generations look at different ways of getting around. That stuff is all very well documented by the commission on travel demand, which produced a report earlier this year. We have to understand that stuff better to be able to build it into the planning and systems approaches.

The Convener

You have just opened up an area that Richard Lyle will specifically ask about.

Richard Lyle

Most of the witnesses have already touched on this issue, so I will keep my question short. How can individual habitual behaviour be placed at the heart of transport policy, and how can low-carbon habits and lifestyles be made aspirational? How can we all change? Keith Irving has already answered that question.

Jess Pepper

I reiterate that it is about giving folk choices that make sense by ensuring that there are services that are accessible and reliable, that they have confidence in and that are a pleasure to use.

With Transport Scotland, I was involved in a project with children and young people that related to major infrastructure. It was absolutely clear that children wanted safe streets to walk, cycle and scoot in, and that active travel was their first preference. It was also clear that, as young people were growing up through their teens, they found that they had inadequate bus services, which shortened their opportunities and access to education, activities, jobs and social stuff. We hope that, if there are positive experiences early on, that will develop a shift to more active and sustainable transport and to people being happy to use buses, for example.

Keith Irving

Two years ago, we commissioned a report that looked at progress on cycling, which I will happily share with the committee. It answers a lot of members’ questions.

Richard Lyle

I love teaching my grandson how to cycle. He is now absolutely loving that. Therefore, I am for cycling.

The Convener

The final question is from John Scott.

John Scott

To what extent can or should individual behaviour change be voluntary or driven by state intervention to ensure the protection of vulnerable urban and rural communities and climate systems?

Bruce Kiloh

That is a fantastic question. I go back to what Richard Lyle said—perhaps this will answer both of you. From our point of view, a lot of it is to do with affordability. If you want people to use a service—whether it be transport or anything else—you need to make it financially attractive. As you go about your business, you will see adverts all over the place that offer cars for £100 a month with £100 down. To a young person, that is a very attractive option. Until something happens to make sustainable transport—be it the active travel that the guys on the panel have been talking about or even public transport—as attractive to a family or whoever it might be, that change will not happen. It has to be made clear that the option is affordable to people.

As for your point about all of society being part of inclusive growth, that is a huge issue. For some deprived communities in Scotland, the world is a very different place; people there do not have the option to use the bus if an all-day ticket costs a significant amount of money. We as a society need to look at the affordability of transport to people in more deprived areas and at how they can participate fully in the inclusive growth opportunities that are available in many other areas of Scotland.

Is looking at the affordability of transport in poorer areas a strategic transport project? I would say so. Those are the kinds of things and changes that we need to consider if we are to make available to people sustainable transport options, from buying a new bike, getting a second-hand bike or renting a bike, through to buying a weekly or monthly train ticket.

Ian Findlay

At the heart of your question lies the balance between carrots and sticks or, in other words, between incentives and disincentives. I do not think that this is an either/or issue. If, as we have all been saying, choice is the key, we need to find a system that makes cycling, walking and public transport the first and natural choice for travel. That will mean a combination of carrots and sticks. Most behaviour change models suggest that carrots get us further. I think that they are extremely appropriate when it comes to walking and cycling, but we should not ignore sticks, a very specific example of which is a workplace parking levy. That sort of stick can encourage people to choose to walk, cycle or use public transport, but it will work well only if a better or more sustainable choice is available. Any stick must be supported by the ability for people to choose a different option.

John Scott

Bruce Kiloh hinted that affordability, too, is important. At this point, I should declare an interest as a bus pass holder myself and a late convert to travelling by bus wherever I can. However—I realise that this would be a significant cost to the Government—should the concessionary bus travel scheme be extended, perhaps to the most vulnerable and those in rural areas, to encourage modal shift?

The Convener

Or to young people.

John Scott

Or to young people.

Mark Ruskell

Or to everyone.

John Scott

Indeed. I thank Mark Ruskell for that suggestion.

Bruce Kiloh

It is really about the choices that we as a society make. Once you give someone something, it is very difficult to take it away from them. The cost of the scheme has been huge, but so has the benefit that it has brought to you and others who have had the opportunity to use it, which is there for everyone to see. However, that has perhaps come at a cost to other parts of society, and the NTS and the STPR provide a good opportunity to look at how we spread the benefit.

I know that the Government has carried out a consultation on extending the concessionary travel scheme to, for example, modern apprentices. That would absolutely be a good first start, but should it then be extended to other groups? That is a question that we, other policy makers and analysts are trying to examine, and the results that we get will allow you to make an informed decision. However, it is most certainly the case that the travel scheme, which has been in place since 2006, has been a massive success in some ways but perhaps not in others, and it is time to review it to see how we in Scotland are benefiting those parts of society that need the benefit the most while keeping it in mind that we need to push people towards more sustainable behaviours.

Keith Irving

The programme for government talked about expanding access to the bike hire schemes that are growing around the country. That is a welcome initiative for jobseekers, apprentices and young people. We suggest that, for many people, access to bikes might work best.

The Convener

We have gone over time, but a couple of members want to come in. Finlay Carson has a question.

Finlay Carson

Given the painfully slow progress in producing a Scottish Oyster card, which would take the confusion out of transport and perhaps reduce the price of daily tickets, as the traveller would pay for what they got, is there enough incentive from the Government for various organisations to work together to look at the digital economy, big data and artificial intelligence in relation to rural bus services? BT now organises all its appointments using artificial intelligence, and that has taken a huge amount of cost and waiting time out of the system. Is there potential for big data to be used to deliver on-demand rural bus services? Is there enough incentive to do that?

Bruce Kiloh

Absolutely. We are fortunate to work in transport, which is one of the most innovative industries across the planet. There are huge changes in the way that it operates, which presents challenges but also massive opportunities.

Transport is all about the data. Who has the data, and how can people get access to it? If it is available, how much does it cost to get that data and information from another organisation? We need to look at that in Scotland. We are the regional transport partnership and public transport authority in the west of Scotland, but we cannot get detailed figures on bus patronage because they are commercially confidential. We are not here to promote one operator over another. However, if we could get access to the information, it would be incumbent on us as a public authority to be as transparent as we can be and to use the information for planning purposes and not for commercial gain. That would be a start.

We have done well with our smart card, which is operational in the subway and other modes. We have offered it to the Government as there to be used. It was developed using public money, in partnership with the private sector. There are huge opportunities for the future that we would do well to exploit.

Richard Lyle

I thank Mr Carson for bringing that in. Yesterday, the Government announced £1 million for ticketing. However, I do not want to ask about that.

Workplace parking levy? No. Is that not going backwards? We removed parking charges at hospitals and numerous other places where people were being charged exorbitant parking fees. A lot of firms offer employees free parking in their financial package. I can park in this building and save the Government £15 a day, because I do not park somewhere else. I park in this building for free, and I do not intend to benefit from a parking charge when I can park here. I am not for your parking charge levy, and I speak on behalf of thousands of motorists who have been taxed enough.

The Convener

There was no question there. I bring this session to a close. I thank the panel for the advice and information. It has been an excellent session.

12:44 Meeting continued in private until 12:59.  



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Fifth meeting transcript

The Convener (Gillian Martin)

Welcome to the 33rd meeting in 2018 of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee. I remind everyone present to switch off their mobile phones, as they might affect the broadcasting system.

Under agenda item 1, the committee will take evidence on the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill. This is the fifth of the committee’s evidence sessions with stakeholders. Today, we are holding an additional meeting to discuss innovation and what is required to meet the targets that are set out in the bill.

I am delighted to welcome our witnesses. Joining us in the committee room are John Ferguson from Eco IdeaM and Suzy Goodsir from Greener Kirkcaldy. Dave Moxham, deputy general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, will join us slightly later. Angus McCrone, chief editor, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, will join us via a teleconference call.

I will ask the opening question. What has and has not worked so far in encouraging innovation in Scotland? How well have approaches to encouraging innovation for and solutions to climate change worked to date? What measures have been taken, and what has worked best?

Mr McCrone should let us know if he wants to say something.

Angus McCrone (Bloomberg New Energy Finance)

I will. However, somebody else can start.

The Convener

Okay. Would anyone else like to start?

John Ferguson (Eco IdeaM)

On the question of what has worked well, the clean technology and low-carbon technology sector is now worth tens of trillions of dollars—you can take Apple as a proxy of a $1 trillion company—and is growing rapidly and exponentially everywhere across the world. Globally, there is a well-networked clean technology sector. The United Kingdom has focused a lot of effort through knowledge transfer partnerships and Innovate UK, and Scotland has focused on resource sector innovation in programmes such as that delivered by Zero Waste Scotland. The technology innovation therefore exists.

My business is fundamentally about clean technology, so I watch that as a scientist on an almost daily basis. The issue is not so much the technology, which is working. There are areas in which we still need innovation and improvement, and that will continue; that is just a natural part of science and engineering. The bit that does not work is that we are simply not bringing those technologies into systems or creating system transitions. Fundamentally, that is about how our markets work. The technologies and the innovation systems to stimulate technology and innovation exist and are increasingly successful, but we are simply not adopting them, bringing them in, and transferring them to do their good work quickly enough.

The Convener

I have listened to people talking about Scotland having quite a lot of small and medium-sized enterprises, which get on with doing their business and maybe do not have as much time to get involved in innovation. Maybe the links between small and medium-sized enterprises and universities or innovators are missing. Do you agree with that?

John Ferguson

There are mechanisms to encourage innovation. You can get innovation grants, but the purpose of an innovation grant is not innovation; it is to get an SME used to working with a university.

SMEs are often innovation companies—my company is tiny but innovates across a range of different sectors. I had an innovation grant with the University of Dundee and thought that it would be good to do five more with other universities, because I have five other ideas. However, an SME can only get one innovation grant and that is a limitation with regard to the connection between small companies and universities.

The Convener

Would any other panel member like to answer the broad question?

Suzy Goodsir (Greener Kirkcaldy)

My focus is people and communities rather than technologies. A lot has worked over the past 10 years. The climate challenge fund has funded over 1,000 projects in local communities to engage people and community groups in innovative ways of changing behaviours and attitudes on climate change. There has been some fantastic work on raising awareness and setting the groundwork for behaviour change.

Local Energy Scotland’s community and renewable energy scheme—CARES—has supported community energy projects, and there have been some fantastic innovative projects, particularly in the Highlands and Islands. There is real potential for more of those to happen in urban communities.

The Convener

Stewart Stevenson has a supplementary question.

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP)

In the first instance, I will direct my question to Angus McCrone, although I may come back to people in the room.

One of the measures of innovation is the number of technology patents. I understand that the number of patents is falling. I have no idea of the breakdown between the wide range of patents that are in existence and the ones in this particular area. If I may make Angus McCrone represent the whole of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, does he have any views on that and on whether patents are a good indicator of innovation taking place?

Angus McCrone

I am not sure that I can give a good answer on that. Patents are obviously one indicator. Part of the overall picture is that quite a few technologies in the low-carbon tradition have matured a lot in the past 10 to 15 years. For example, technologies such as onshore wind, solar photovoltaics and offshore wind have become mature with an established product. The innovation is generally happening in large companies and is incremental. It is not happening through small businesses in sheds inventing new products.

I will mention, in no particular order, some areas where Scotland could take advantage of its natural resources and look to push through innovation and be a centre of activity. The area of demand response will be huge with regard to the balancing of the electricity system in the future. There will be new industrial processes to take advantage of the inevitable peaks and troughs in the electricity supply. Scotland, with its large share of renewable generation, could be where new processes are sited.

Similarly, Scotland could help to pioneer projects on the use of batteries in the balancing of the electricity system. The pairing of batteries with other technologies such as wind, tidal and wave is another interesting area. Through small island grids, a lot of islands in Scotland have the potential to pair technologies such as wind with batteries and even with diesel generation and then export that expertise around the world.

Finally, onshore wind projects are beginning to happen in parts of Europe without any subsidy support. There is potential for Scotland to be a place where that happens, taking advantage of Scotland’s great resources in wind, backed with corporate purchasing. You could have big companies buying electricity from wind projects and doing those deals in Scotland because of the good economics in relation to wind projects. There are a lot of opportunities.

Stewart Stevenson

I have a question for John Ferguson. In relation to your company’s activities, do you use patents to protect your intellectual property? How do you protect your own innovations from unhelpful exploitation by others?

John Ferguson

I would protect the know-how just by being sensible about who I speak to about it. For small companies, it is often more about how quickly you get to market; it is about being the first mover. How do you protect patents on a global basis when you are in a globalised economy and you have China breathing down your neck and looking at everything you are doing? How are you going to take on a Chinese company that takes your ideas? That puts a lot of people off using patents, along with the cost and the time involved in patenting, unless it is such a brilliant idea that you and your investors simply have no choice except to protect it with a patent. A lot of the time, the innovation is not patentable; it is about know-how and protecting that know-how.

The Convener

We had a debate in Parliament about research funding after Brexit and we talked about universities, which can often be key when it comes to getting research funding that might drive innovation. How big a problem will coming out of the European Union be in terms of funding the driving of innovation in this area? Is that something that has crossed your mind?

John Ferguson

I think that it must have crossed the mind of everybody who is involved in innovation and research. I have certainly heard lots of academics speaking about it. I would probably leave the words to them. I think that the academics are vocal enough in standing up and saying that they have concerns about the networks, the connections and the flow of investment into research.

I do not know enough about how academics are funded through the UK Government to know whether the UK Government can take up the slack of any uncertainty that may come after Brexit. However, uncertainty is not a good thing.

Finlay Carson (Galloway and West Dumfries) (Con)

The just transition partnership suggested that there is too low a rate of investment, particularly in clean energy systems, and business has suggested that a clear route map and policy would help to drive investment. However, it is not just about tech; it is also about innovation when it comes to people and activities.

Has there been adequate leadership and support for new ideas to succeed? How could we encourage more innovation?

Suzy Goodsir

It is important to include communities in energy innovation. Communities are impacted by the energy infrastructure; a lot of communities in Scotland have high levels of fuel poverty and there is also a lot of fantastic energy resource. To try to marry them up would be a great solution.

There has been some funding for community projects; historically, a lot of it has been focused on the Highlands and Islands. There is a real opportunity to do more with urban, central belt communities around community renewables. Possibly more support is needed for CARES and for organisations such as Community Energy Scotland, which works with local communities to try to ensure that they can take advantage of the innovations in the energy system that are on the way.

We have smart energy systems coming—there is a lot of change on the horizon. The traditional model of a community energy project is of a community having a wind turbine or a share in a wind farm. Those days have ended, really, so there is a real need for communities to have a stake in the changes that are coming and in the new energy projects that are on the horizon to make sure that it is not just about corporate ownership, with profits leaving our communities.

John Ferguson

I would support what has just been said and what Angus McCrone said as well. Angus mentioned some areas where we could innovate. We are looking at how we embed renewables systems into industrial contexts. It is done in much the same way as you would embed systems into communities. It democratises and decentralises and it gives those communities, businesses or people long-term future price security. It makes the market start to work for people and consumers and the environment more than for investors.

We need investors—I am not saying that investment is not important—but how we structure the market can be orientated and biased in one direction or another. We need to move away from large-scale, centralised systems and towards decentralised, embedded systems. If the power from a wind turbine is put into the grid, the sleeving costs before the power gets to the consumer are enormous, whereas if the wind turbine is put into a business park and the power is sold directly to consumers, that works for the wind farm and for the businesses that buy the power. Embedded systems for communities and businesses are one of the approaches that we need to take in future.

09:45  



Suzy Goodsir

The Edinburgh Community Solar Co-op is an example of that approach working well. Lots of members of the local community have invested to enable solar panels to be put on public and community buildings in Edinburgh. The project is very successful. We could have much more of that.

Finlay Carson

The committee has heard from sectors such as agriculture that although there is technology and advice out there, the knowledge transfer is not good, which means that new technologies are not having the impact that they could have. What would make the difference to small businesses and communities who want to drive innovation? Is there a single magic bullet that would help with knowledge transfer and get more companies and communities on board?

Suzy Goodsir

For our sector, it is about having good, trusted, knowledgeable intermediary organisations, with funding support. Organisations such as Local Energy Scotland and Community Energy Scotland have the technical expertise to offer capacity building and project development support to community organisations that are doing projects on the ground.

John Scott (Ayr) (Con)

Mr Ferguson, I was particularly impressed by your evidence and your obvious desire to innovate, which stimulated my thinking. You and Suzy Goodsir both talked about community schemes, but we can take things to the even more granular level of self-sufficient households. In the context of the move towards electric vehicles, will it be possible to install solar panels and batteries in individual houses, so that the solar panels operate during the day and people can charge their cars through the night? That seems to be a virtuous circle. Is that a practical thought or a flight of fancy?

John Ferguson

It absolutely is a practical thought. Angus McCrone mentioned demand-response balancing; I would add load balancing to that. Those systems of storage can function in that context. I will hand over to Suzy Goodsir, because she was talking to me earlier about heat batteries, which are another approach, given that more than 50 per cent of our gross energy demand in Scotland is for heat for commercial and domestic spaces.

Suzy Goodsir

My organisation, Greener Kirkcaldy, runs an energy advice service. We go out to households across Fife to give people advice on home energy use. A lot of that work is about fuel poverty and a lot is about carbon reduction, because people are interested in reducing their carbon footprint. We have found that there is a small but growing interest in battery storage. People are interested in the idea of self-sufficiency. If they have solar panels or other renewables at home, they are interested in making the most of that energy, especially as the feed-in tariffs and financial subsidies are decreasing.

We find that people are interested in heat batteries. There is a product called Sunamp—Sunamp is the name of a Scottish company—which is relatively low cost to install. It is a fairly small piece of equipment, which can go in the attic or next to the boiler and connect up to home renewables and the home heating and hot water system. It will probably pay for itself over the lifetime of the equipment—probably much sooner. There is a real and growing interest in that kind of technology. People are up for it.

John Scott

A game changer in that regard is that quite a lot of homes have sufficient room to install a battery, given the different configurations and shapes of batteries. When I was a child, our electricity did not come from power lines; a whole shed was given over to batteries to store electricity, which must have come from a generator. It is quite possible to store energy on an individual household basis. How much thought has been given to the development of self-sufficient households?

John Ferguson

The growth in technology and innovation in the different ways of storing energy in batteries is exponential. It is all about balancing. If we want to make a change at scale, we need to know that the natural resources are there, so a technology that uses a lot of gallium, for example, might not be viable, because there is simply not enough of that rare earth metal.

The technology innovation in that space is very rapid. I would keep an eye on heat batteries and energy storage batteries as part of the solution, certainly for wind, because you are getting a balancing of load. You will get a baseload system out of a wind farm that could not be baseload otherwise.

The Convener

Before we move on to a supplementary question from Claudia Beamish, I just want to say good morning to Dave Moxham.

Dave Moxham (Just Transition Partnership)

I apologise for my lateness.

The Convener

No problem.

Claudia Beamish (South Scotland) (Lab)

I appear to be asking this question from a negative position, but it is a reflection on the past that I hope will lead us to a positive future. Some would say that, when it comes to research and development, Scotland is fantastic. We have already highlighted lots of things that are happening now.

However, there is a perception that sometimes comes to me in my brief that we do not always get to commercialisation. I will use the example that everyone uses, although I am sorry to do so in a way—Professor Salter’s ducks and wave power. There are lots of examples. Why have we not seen manufacturing of renewables here on the sort of scale that is perfectly possible? Do the witnesses have any comment on that beyond what has already been discussed?

Angus McCrone

The issue with wave energy is not that Scotland has missed a manufacturing boat, because the manufacturing boat has not left the harbour yet. That sector has not got going anything like as quickly as anyone in any country hoped.

In retrospect, the mistake that Scotland made was in investing large amounts of public money in individual technologies; as it happened, several of the companies behind those technologies went out of business and quite a bit of money was lost. Some lessons have been learned from that and a different approach is being tried via Wave Energy Scotland. Certainly on the tidal side, there has been more of an emphasis on backing some of the early projects, such as the Maygen project, rather than putting money into particular technologies. That is progress.

Whether Scotland could become a hub for mass manufacturing of some of these new technologies is not just a Scottish issue; it is also a UK issue. Invented in the UK, developed in the US and made in Japan is what we used to hear with a lot of technologies a few decades ago. That same principle is a danger when you get early Government support for a technology, the Government goes lukewarm on it and somebody else picks up the baton and develops it. Consistency of Government policy is important.

It is not just important to focus on manufacturing and factory jobs; it is important to focus on building expertise. Expertise and service skill make up a lot of the valuable export opportunities. I mentioned a few areas earlier. A moment ago, we were talking about electric vehicles, which are an up-and-coming low-carbon area. We forecast that 55 per cent of global car sales in 2040 will be electric vehicles, which will totally transform the transport sector. There is an interesting interplay between electric vehicles and the grid via what we call dynamic charging, which is the ability to charge an electric vehicle when the electricity price is low rather than when it is high. That will require public acceptance of the use of smart meters and other information on the prices of electricity coming into the home. There is a lot that the Government can do to encourage that take-up. Early success in developing that kind of dynamic charging will provide skills that can be exported to other countries.

Dave Moxham

I have a little less expertise than my colleague, but I have a couple of other points. There have been failures in the past, but it would be a mistake to think that, because we have had our fingers burned before, we should not try again. There is an element of risk taking here, but it is necessary risk taking because of the stakes.

I have a position in the Scottish Trades Union Congress, but I am here specifically on behalf of the just transition partnership. It is very important to learn from the negative experiences of transition that people have had in the past, and to begin to reverse those experiences. We need to find a better way of connecting some of the R and D that I think we all agree needs to be undertaken, with the market. There is a key role for Government in that. A couple of the examples that have been given would be ideal from our point of view.

We see the potential for some good work to be done, particularly though the establishment of the just transition commission, which should have as much power over direction as possible. We need to ensure that the innovation from the R and D is properly built into an industrial strategy and that, if there are gaps between the technology and the delivery, we can deliver the plan, even if that involves Government investment. In advising the Government, the just transition commission has a real role in filling that gap.

Mark Ruskell (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Green)

The climate challenge fund has been a phenomenal success in supporting more than 1,000 projects. I was involved in some of the early discussions about the establishment of the fund, and I always saw it as a community laboratory of innovation and ideas. However, it poses a question about how we mainstream some of the approaches. Some fantastic work is going on in individual communities, and that is having some reach, but are there particular lessons from CCF projects that should be taken forward as mainstream approaches? How do we do that? There is a danger that, in the voluntary sector, people continually try to innovate to get the next batch of funds.

Suzy Goodsir

That is a real risk. The climate challenge fund has supported more than 1,000 projects, as you said, with £100 million over the past 10 years. One of the challenges is that the fund looks for constant innovation. The funding tends to be relatively short term—often it is for only one year—and it takes longer than that to embed projects in communities. A key priority in any future development of the fund, certainly from the community’s point of view, is for funding to be available over periods of at least three years, in order for learning to be identified and changes to be embedded.

The climate challenge fund has made measurable impacts on carbon but, more important, the key success is that it has led to us learning a lot about activating behaviour changes and about opening up possibilities for people that they had perhaps not previously considered. For example, there has been a lot of good work in relation to battery storage and electric vehicles that has helped people to overcome barriers. There has been a lot of learning on what the barriers are to the uptake of green technologies in people’s homes and lifestyles.

There is probably scope for a review of the fund at this stage. I know that reviews have been done in the past to pull together some of that learning and to think about where it could be mainstreamed. The Scottish Government has behaviour change programmes, but a lot of such programmes focus on communications—in effect, they are marketing campaigns—and delivery through organisations such as the Energy Saving Trust, rather than on mainstreaming through grass-roots, bottom-up, community-type work.

Mark Ruskell

I have a slightly bigger global question on targets. We will need to make a critical decision on the targets that we put in the bill. We have already talked a bit about the role of business in meeting a 90 per cent target, but how would business and innovation react to a net zero carbon or greenhouse gas emissions target by 2040 or 2050? What signal would that send to markets, and how would it become a driver for innovation?

10:00  



John Ferguson

I come back to my previous point that it might not be the innovation market that needs such a stimulus and that this is more an organisational system issue of national Governments and local government installing the new ideas and options to allow these technologies to do the work that they can do. I worry that we are constantly running after a moving ball: every time that we think that we get to it, we find that it is actually 50 yards ahead of us. Things are just moving too rapidly.

Indeed, that is why our submission focuses on developing rapid transitions by changing how we do things. We could, for example, have joint councils in regional areas, have special powers or bring in agencies such as Scottish Enterprise and make them work together under a specific mandatory framework. In the submission, I give the examples of the western edge project in Tayside, where there is the potential for fossil-fuel-free district energy concepts and new smart grids to be installed, and the Binn Group’s plastics project, which will completely change how we address plastics recycling. Those are real commercial projects, but that kind of technological innovation can be a catalyst if we can spread it across regions and make sure that it is applied quickly—which we can do, because we have the mechanisms in place.

For me, then, the issue is to find ways of applying the technological innovation that is already taking place. Things will keep changing; indeed, the offshore marine renewables that Angus McCrone mentioned are one area where we keep needing to innovate until we see things that work. We then need to get such projects transiting at scale, but our strategies are just not good enough to make such transitions happen. We have to find new ways of speeding that up.

Dave Moxham

I agree. In a way, it is a case of show, not tell. The high targets are a positive move, and they will probably have a positive effect on the research and development environment. Indeed, it has been shown globally that, if you set high targets, you get a positive response to them. However, such an approach does not necessarily do the “show, not tell” or guarantee that any of the benefits, which need to be felt economically and industrially in the form of jobs in communities, will necessarily reside in Scotland. That is what we need if we are to win the other big battle, which is about how we change behaviours. It is all about the nuts and bolts of delivery; we need to get ahead of the ball by ensuring that the things that work can be expanded quickly and at high volume. If we can do that, the people whom we represent and communities more generally will, I think, see the higher targets as something that they can relate to.

Suzy Goodsir

To communities and individuals, a zero target sends a very strong signal and message that the Government is leading from the front, and it will catalyse a lot of change.

Angus McCrone

I admire the setting of tough targets. It gives a sense of direction, which is very important.

Looking at the different pieces of this picture, I think that the targets for the electricity sector are translating into change; indeed, progress is well under way in that respect. The United Kingdom’s performance in reducing emissions from electricity generation has been good, and you can see that continuing. The technologies are there, and the choices are more about how they can be implemented quickly and what more can be done to encourage such moves.

Although it has come about a bit later and progress up to now has been on the slower side, a similar thing has been happening in the transport sector. The path ahead for electrification is pretty clear, and by the mid-2020s, the economics will be switching very decisively in favour of electric cars. You can see how targets can be achieved in so far as they relate to transport.

However, the big issue is heat. It is great to have a very aggressive target for the heat sector, but it is also necessary to bear in mind that the path by which we might get to that target is nothing like as clear as it is in the electricity and transport sectors. There are technologies available, but it is not clear which of those technologies will make a significant difference. It is obviously a massive issue in Scotland, with its housing history and the challenges that it faces in keeping people warm. It is good to have the target, but a lot more work needs to be done on what the pathways are on the heat side.

The Convener

Stewart Stevenson has a supplementary question on that theme.

Stewart Stevenson

I will start with Angus McCrone. It is a very simple question. Who should determine what the targets are—scientists or politicians?

Angus McCrone

It has to be a combination of scientists and politicians. In the end, politicians should set them, because how they go about setting policies to meet the targets is part of the democratic process, and they need to be answerable for that, but the targets must be strongly based on the scientific evidence. Long-term targets are difficult, because we do not know how technologies will evolve over time. There must be some flexibility to make targets more aggressive or less aggressive, depending on how the technologies evolve. However, it is important to have strong targets as a statement, so that people know what the direction of policy is.

John Ferguson

Good policy is evidence based and, in that context, scientists are fundamentally important, but we also need to take business and communities with us. It is for global society—not just politicians and scientists—to resolve the issue, and each group has a role to play in that.

Dave Moxham

I hope that my answer is not too wide, but an enormous polarisation is taking place in world politics, in the US, Europe and other places. Politicians—not in this place, on this issue, as far as I can see—are responding to what they perceive to be the concerns of the dispossessed working class and the concerns of people who do not feel that they have been part of or included in the six significant economic and industrial changes that we have seen.

I trust politicians, but the politicians I trust are the ones who also pay attention to how those arguments are won at community and trade union level because, without that buy-in, we undoubtedly risk, in every country in the world, the polarisation that I have referred to, which one might describe as the collapse of the centre. That is a particular danger to our shared aims on climate change and carbon reduction.

Mark Ruskell

To come back to targets, there is not a clear pathway in Scotland’s climate change plan for getting to a net zero target. Are there examples of other Government targets or aspirations on which there has initially been uncertainty yet which business, through innovation, has worked—with or without communities—to establish a pathway towards and achieve?

John Ferguson

I am sorry—I did not pick up specifically what you were getting at with your question.

Mark Ruskell

One of our questions is about a clear pathway to a net zero target. Have there been other Government targets or aspirations in the past in relation to which there has not been clarity at the outset on the pathway to the objective but which business has had a role in addressing through innovation over a period of time?

Suzy Goodsir

I have an example from the future rather than the past. The Parliament is considering the Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill, which will set an aspiration for fuel poverty to be reduced to 5 per cent, or perhaps lower, by 2040. Given that there is a link to the decarbonisation of heat, there will be some good synergies on both targets. I am not sure that there is a clear plan for how to get to fuel poverty of 5 per cent by 2040—a lot of innovation will be required there, too—but let us hope that the work on that and on the climate change targets will lead to a win-win.

Mark Ruskell

The obvious example is the aspiration of the US Government to put a person on the moon for the first time. There was no clear pathway to achieving that. What collaborations with academia or business would work in addressing such a gap, filling it and innovating in those sectors? Perhaps Angus McCrone has thoughts about energy in that regard.

Angus McCrone

Sorry—would you mind saying that again? I just missed the end of the sentence.

Mark Ruskell

Okay, I will try again.

My question is about how industry manages to innovate. I mentioned the example of meeting a target, such as a Government’s aspiration to put somebody on the moon. Industry, academia and Governments then need to work together in order to understand the uncertainty, innovate around it and achieve the target.

My point for Angus McCrone is about energy. Are there examples from energy in which there was no clear pathway to achieving a goal, yet the industry managed to innovate around the problem?

Angus McCrone

Not in the clear way that you set out in relation to the moon programme. I suppose that, in that case, the US Government threw vast amounts of money at the problem, which always helps.

The UK has more than met its CO2 reduction targets from the 1990 benchmark. Similarly, it will either meet or come incredibly close to meeting the 2020 renewable energy target. Therefore, targets can be hit. The private sector always proves to be very versatile and adaptive in thinking of ways to meet targets, as long as the crucial incentives and the price signals to make it happen are there.

As I have said, the issue with a long-term, very ambitious CO2 reduction target, such as we are talking about here, relates to what happens on the heat side. Until there is a little bit more clarity on which technologies will win through, it is difficult to be certain about how the Government can bring that about.

John Ferguson

I give Mark Ruskell the specific example of zero waste. Before zero waste was a popular concept, it had become very clear that we had to deal with landfill. In 1996, the landfill tax was brought in, which internalised the external cost that landfill placed on the environment. When I started in the business, 97 per cent of our waste went to landfill, so the tax had a significant impact as regards methanogenic potential to drive climate change. The ban on landfill changed how the industry structured its innovation, investments and assets. It drove innovation towards reusing, recycling and finding cleaner ways of making energy from the waste with which we can do nothing else. That was one way of saying, “You cannot do this any more.”

It would drive massive displacement in the energy sector if we were to say that, within a few years, people will not be able to use diesel-generated power systems and will have to have an alternative in place. One of the businesses for which I work generates almost all its energy from diesel generation. It is trying to be a low-carbon business, but how can it do that? We are trying to put alternative renewable systems in place. People might think that we can create transition and innovation by saying, “This is a really bad thing. We will stop doing it, but we will do so in a transitory period when we will have time to adjust and deal with it.” However, at some point, we will not be able to do that any more. Putting in alternative systems is one way in which we can make such transition happen.

Mark Ruskell

But at the beginning of that process—when the landfill ban target was set—there was no clarity about how to get there.

John Ferguson

Absolutely. Nobody knew how that would pan out, but it set the environment for change. We said that there would be a cost for landfill, and as that cost rose, the response rose in proportion to it, to the point where we can now say that, by 2021, we will pretty much completely ban waste from going to landfill. You move from one mechanism to another.

Mark Ruskell

Are there other examples?

Dave Moxham

I have a general comment. I agree that the setting of targets can provoke positive innovation and reaction, even if it is not known exactly what the path might be—there is certainly no dissent from us on that. There are risks if it becomes profitable not to innovate but to find other offshoring or importing alternatives. We have to be clear that, in setting a target, we are also giving guidance about what constitutes a positive economic or social benefit—and what might be the opposite. I would be slightly careful about saying that a top-down mechanism, such as using the market to encourage people to decide, can automatically do that, although undoubtedly it can in some circumstances.

I do not want to sound like a broken record, but returning to an enterprise environment and a connected strategy—involving the Scottish national investment bank and others—that promotes the best possible socially inclusive responses is very important.

10:15  



John Scott

I am interested in the sort of macro ideas that you have been dealing with, and I want to ask about practical issues. Can I have the witnesses’ perspectives on whether large-scale systemic change now is required to ensure decarbonisation, and how structural change can be facilitated and financed?

Dave Moxham

There are a couple of points to make about that. All available investment mechanisms, including the national investment bank, will be absolutely vital. I make no apology for saying that increased Government investment is absolutely vital. We have seen increased investment in R and D, and we would certainly not criticise what has been undertaken thus far. However, if we are looking at systemic change, whether we are talking about major systems or the redesign or partial redesign of a whole economy, we are undoubtedly talking about significant traditional state investment. I realise that, in this Parliament, you are already talking about a competency that is partly UK and partly Scottish, and I make no apology for saying that we need to jump now for carbon capture and storage, and to do that we need to have the investment in place. The same is true of electrification. Those are things that we need to do now, and we cannot rely just on the private sector investment landscape to deliver.

Suzy Goodsir

On a micro, individual household scale, we are talking about asking people to make significant changes to their existing homes in many cases, particularly older properties, so we need continued investment in the grants and loans that are currently administered by the Energy Saving Trust and Home Energy Scotland. Those schemes are popular and successful, and they need to increase and continue.

John Ferguson

We are looking at how we can use the combined systems of planning, fiscal taxation and statutory regulation to create transition levies, where you put a small marginal cost on something over a period of time to fund a change, or to provide a subsidy to help people change. There are fiscal instruments that could come in.

We have to get our planning system fit for purpose, and I genuinely think that it is not. I do not mean to offend anybody who is involved in planning, but I have used the planning system for many years and I think that it is part of the problem. It is far too slow and it does not set the strategic frameworks correctly. The national planning framework is a great idea but it is underachieving. We have to start with planning because that is the framework within which everybody has to work to do anything about infrastructure on the ground. You will not change systems without changing infrastructure.

Angus McCrone

The building side is absolutely crucial. Are we doing enough via new building regulations, and through regulations for the conversion of properties, to enforce strong energy efficiency requirements? Is enough being done when it comes to replacing buildings when they have reached or passed the end of their life? Is there enough incentive for the owners of those buildings, whether they are landowners, councils or individuals, to go about replacing them with something much more energy efficient? I do not know the answer to those questions, but they are areas to look at.

John Scott

Would you regard that as a business and economic opportunity to be grasped in the process of mitigating and adapting to climate change? What do we need to do to maximise that? One thing that strikes me is that there is a supply chain going from ideas to enterprise companies and on to Government approval, but a big gap in all that is the education of people such as ourselves. For us, this whole process has involved a learning curve in relation to the potential that exists out there—there has probably been a learning curve for Government and civil servants, too.

We have the innovation and the science out there, but, as Mr Ferguson said, there is a real problem in getting things to the next stage, whether through Scottish Enterprise or HIE. Will you develop that theme a little more by identifying the problems and telling us where the sore bits are and how you think they might be sorted—if you can do so easily?

John Ferguson

One of the issues is the timescales required. You need to make rapid transitions, but for some developments a rapid transition might be a five or 10-year period. At the rate that we are going, we might never do it. We are not good at doing the infrastructure. Waste is a good example of that. We have a tremendously good zero-waste strategy but no infrastructure to deliver landfill bans and so on, because we have not focused on some unpopular issues.

We need to understand that the timescales required do not necessarily fit the political paradigm of short-term Governments being in power for four years followed by a changing of the guard; in other words, you do something for four years and then there is a change so you go in a different direction.

We need political parties to do a little bit of time planning on a cross-party basis and to agree that certain things are sacrosanct. We should say that we all agree that we need to do this and put it into a safe environment, and that would be our framework for 15 years. That would create stability for investment, planning and business and it would allow time for adjustments to be made and for the public engagement, messaging and culture change that are needed to happen.

We should work on a cross-party basis and do medium-to-long-term planning to get consensus on some of these issues to stop them being political footballs. There is enough politics in politics for all of us—that is fine—but certain things are of mutual benefit to all people. We have to try to find consensus among all parties on certain things and just say, “That’s it. We have nailed it down and we aren’t going to mess with it. That’s the framework so let’s get on and do it.” Within such a framework, we could then perhaps accelerate transition.

John Scott

It makes sense that if we are going to set targets for 2030 to 2050, we have an agreed position across parties. Could that be achieved? I do not know.

John Ferguson

That is the challenge for politicians.

John Scott

The point that you are making is that some broad themes and principles could be agreed, but that has to go hand in hand with setting the targets. That is a valuable point. I am sorry—I did not mean to cut across what other people were going to say.

The Convener

If anyone else wants to join in, they can do so. Otherwise, I will invite Claudia Beamish to ask a supplementary question.

Claudia Beamish

I have a specific question for Angus McCrone about the targets. Shall I wait and see whether I have time to ask it at the end?

The Convener

You can ask it now, if it is a short question.

Claudia Beamish

Okay. Thank you. I just want to play devil’s advocate for a minute. If I heard him correctly, Angus McCrone said that there should be the ability to alter the targets depending on how the technology evolves. Should there not also be political leadership? I take the point that John Ferguson made that there should be leadership across parties to drive innovation and confidence in all sectors. Would that not guide new technology, bearing in mind that we have successive climate change plans to set the policy frameworks?

Angus McCrone

Yes, that is all reasonable. The issue that caused me to give a more nuanced answer was heat and what the winning technologies would be in that segment. That is not just an issue for Scotland; it is an issue for all northern countries. It is not clear which technologies will win through and at what speed they will emerge. It is very hard to be sure about whether targets that are set now will be overachieved or underachieved. What we have learnt up to now, with the European 2020 targets, is that rapid progress was made on the electricity side but much less progress was made on transport or heat.

The transport side is becoming a lot clearer, but there are still a lot of question marks over heat. A lot of political oomph can be created by the right noises being made, but there need to be commercial technologies within sight to bring that about, and it is not yet clear what those will be.

Angus MacDonald (Falkirk East) (SNP)

We know that the transformational change that we need is a tall order. To achieve that change, should Governments regulate lifestyles and reduce consumer choices, or will markets adequately innovate to allow continued growth?

John Ferguson

It is a combination, I think. There are times when we simply have to say, “That is just not working—you have to stop doing it.” Markets will operate wherever they can make money. For example, every year we put 300 million tonnes of new plastics into the environment, of which we recycle 12 per cent, so 88 per cent is going into landfill, incinerators or the oceans. Part of the problem is that we allow the manufacture and sale of complete and utter nonsense and its movement, using carbon, all over the world.

Why are we such a consumer-based society? Why are we not focusing more on the global equity issues of ensuring that everybody has enough food, clean water, security, good-quality air and suchlike? If we invested in those things globally, there would be a vibrant global economy and we would not be wasting time and resources and damaging the planet doing unnecessary things.

Sometimes it is good to say, “We’re just going to stop doing that.” However, I am not persuaded that that is necessarily a good way of regulating society. We have to let people have a degree of freedom. I am in the middle on that. Sometimes there is a case for doing it and sometimes there is a case for letting markets determine things. Markets working in sensible places should be determining sensible approaches. They should not be left entirely to their own ends.

Dave Moxham

I am kind of in the middle on that, too. There is clearly a case for some regulation of consumer choice, but we also know, as I have said before, that buy-in is really important to the whole process. We have to be careful that, in the regulation of consumer choice, we are equitable in terms of people’s choices and experiences. It is dangerous to limit the choices of people who already have very limited choices while others can do things more freely and without the same impact on their lifestyles. Should we regulate consumer choice? Yes, but we should be careful about who that impacts on and how.

There is a general case for auditing as we go along the impact of the decisions that we make. We need to audit the jobs impact, the consumer impact and the community impact. As we go along with things, we need a process so that we can regularly judge what they mean for people. If we do not do that, there is a real risk that we will leave people behind.

Suzy Goodsir

In one of the committee’s previous evidence sessions, someone talked about behaviour change. I will not go into too much detail on that, but the Scottish Government uses the ISM model of how behaviour change happens. That model talks about three levels: the individual, which is about attitudes and behaviours; the social, which is where a lot of community work comes in as it is about setting norms and encouraging people to engage with their peers to make change; and the material, which is about regulation and incentives. For behaviour change to happen on the scale that we are talking about, we need all three levels to come into play in a coherent way.

The Convener

We move on to some questions from Rhoda Grant about the effect on people in different areas of Scotland.

Rhoda Grant (Highlands and Islands) (Lab)

Previously, we took evidence on transport, and we recognised that some of the incentives to get people out of their cars have an impact on rural areas. We have heard this morning about fuel poverty and how it impacts on urban areas, including cities, as well. How can we ensure that the necessary change is fair to all socioeconomic and geographical sectors of society? It seems to me that those who have previously been left behind will be left behind again. In more affluent urban areas, every roof has photovoltaics because people can afford to invest in them. The people who have the knowledge and the finance can make the transition, which leaves others behind.

10:30  



Suzy Goodsir

The point is really important. I am particularly concerned about fuel poverty and how it relates to climate change. There are great Scottish Government schemes, such as the warmer homes Scotland scheme, which is making huge improvements to homes for vulnerable households, and a lot of that work is done in rural areas. However, we could do more—there are people who fall into the gaps.

More affluent people can afford to make changes to their homes, and people who fulfil criteria such as having a passport benefit are eligible for the warmer homes Scotland scheme, but a swathe of people in the middle whom the Energy Saving Trust classifies as able to pay are not really able—they do not have the money for such changes. We need more grants, incentives and programmes such as boiler scrappage schemes to help people to make changes and benefit from the drivers that are in place, particularly in relation to home energy and heat.

The Convener

Not everyone is a home owner, and people who rent cannot apply to such schemes. What is your response to that?

Dave Moxham

I do not disagree with anything that has been said. We need to share the heat benefits as widely as possible, which applies even more to people who are in accommodation that they do not own than it does to others.

We need to show rural communities that a better integrated transport network can have benefits. More investment is needed in that, as is an extension of public ownership. That is vital to reducing car emissions, but it is also important to show the benefits.

We are not making enormous gains in agriculture, and any agricultural measures could affect rural communities disproportionately. However, reafforestation and peat measures would have a positive impact and bring jobs and growth to the areas involved.

Rhoda Grant

How do we proactively get the information across? Some people in urban areas and inner cities struggle to keep a roof over their heads, never mind look at who will give them a grant or advice. They struggle day to day; they do not sit back to do horizon scanning and think about where they want to be. We must be much more proactive.

Suzy Goodsir

Our energy advice service engages about 2,000 households per year. We go out and find people; we go to mother and toddler groups, pensioners lunch clubs and any organisations that will accept us. Anywhere that people are, we will talk to them about home energy use. We tell them about things that they can do themselves and we have a handy service that does simple tasks for people, such as changing light bulbs into low-energy LEDs for older people who cannot do that themselves. We put people in touch with grants and schemes to get significant works done to make their homes more energy efficient. We talk to people about behaviour change, about simple things that they can do to save energy, about what is coming—what is on the horizon—and about reasons why they might want to make changes now to save themselves quite a lot of money in the longer term.

The energy advice service produces win-wins. We can put people in touch with other support services such as befriending services to tackle social isolation, and with Citizens Advice Scotland to get benefits checks. The approach is holistic and we go out to proactively find the people who need the service.

Thousands of people in Scotland are in fuel poverty and a lot of them are not asking for help—they are suffering in silence. We need significant boots on the ground in communities—workers and volunteers—to actively find those people.

The Convener

I will bring in John Scott on that theme before Rhoda Grant asks her questions about the workforce.

John Scott

I applaud what Suzy Goodsir is saying. Dave Moxham talked about incentivising farmers and the agriculture sector to do the right thing, which we talked about on Tuesday. Should we also be looking at incentivising people in the home energy and heat sectors more than we currently do?

We have already suggested that people should benefit from a rates reduction if they do the right thing in their homes, but I do not think that there has been a huge uptake in that programme. If we were to proactively further market the idea of doing good and sensible things to improve the quality of homes in relation to heat loss, perhaps something could be worked out. The scheme would pay for itself in a three to five-year window.

Suzy Goodsir talked about the need to embed change within communities, the cost of that and the fact that it would be a three-year project. Will she say a bit more about that?

Suzy Goodsir

People have to be motivated to make energy efficiency improvements to existing homes. It involves a lot of upheaval to get a new boiler and insulation, especially where wall or under-floor insulation is required. It is a hassle for the householder, so there needs to be an incentive to do it. An element of education is needed about measures that might pay for themselves, but there are also measures for which a stronger financial incentive is needed. The Energy Saving Trust has an interest-free loan scheme that is supported, I believe, by the Scottish Government. There is a very small cashback grant component to that, but I do not think that it is a strong enough incentive for people in existing homes.

Rhoda Grant

I turn to the economy and how we can change from being a consumer-based society, which John Ferguson talked about. We need to shift the economic focus, but how do we ensure that we do that without a cliff edge for workers? Do we have the right skills and knowledge in the workforce for that transition to be seamless? In changing the focus of society, how do we avoid some of the post-industrial societal change that we have seen in the past?

John Ferguson

I am not a specialist or expert on this by any means, but we have to see that question as a global issue. Going back to the earlier question about why we do not manufacture things in this country, I note that there is James Dyson, one of the UK’s greatest innovators, who is pro-Brexit, but his next factory will be in Singapore. We are probably all wearing clothes that were made in Indonesia, and many of us probably saw a very good programme on textiles and their impact.

We are allowing our products to be manufactured in countries where the environmental impacts are dumped straight down the pipe into the water that local communities use and then out into the ocean—plastics and everything. I am not necessarily including Singapore in that, but it is certainly true of textiles in Indonesia. We have to stop that. We have to stop allowing our consumer supply chains to give us products that exploit the environment. If we deal with that as a global issue, we will create global equity.

In the case of those textiles, the impacts on the environment affect many of the poorest people in Indonesia, but they also harm our global environment, and we all suffer from that. There has to be an expectation that we will ask the question about how we can protect everybody’s interests.

Rhoda Grant

We are talking about some of the poorest people in the world, so we do not want to take the jobs away from them. How do we make that step change? We are ahead, to a large extent, and that is why our costs are higher. They are desperate for that work and they do not have the money to invest in cleaning up the output of those industries, which makes them cheaper. How do we get people to pay more to ensure that we are all in the same place?

John Ferguson

Surely the fundamental issue there is fair trade. They have every right to make goods and services and send them around the world, but they have to do it to a standard and we have to set that standard and pay for it. That is the issue. We are consuming too much because it is too cheap, as the cost to the global environment is hidden. That does not help workers anywhere.

The Convener

I want to raise a specific issue that relates to my area. I come from Aberdeenshire, and for me the elephant in the room is that, in my area, many people’s jobs are dependent on oil and gas. There has been a fear that, if we move to our targets, many people will lose their incomes. As Rhoda Grant said and as we have seen in the past, many people will fall off the cliff edge if we do not put things in place to make a just transition and provide jobs. I ask Dave Moxham to talk specifically about that. We are talking about thousands of people in a particular area of Scotland.

Dave Moxham

Yes. There is a tendency to look at the issue in straight quantum terms rather than to look at the quality of jobs and particularly middle-income jobs, which are not particularly prevalent in the UK economy just now and which we need to hold on to. I am sure that members know that many people who previously worked offshore now work as labourers. There is nothing wrong with labouring work, but it is not particularly good for an economy that people who were on £40 an hour now work for £10 an hour.

It is a question of the quality of jobs. The issue is difficult for our members and the unions that represent them. I return to our hopes for the just transition commission. We need real, forward-looking analysis of where the hotspots in the supply chain lie and where the opportunities exist, and we need to look at maximising opportunities in areas such as decommissioning, where we believe there is still work to be done.

We need to engage with companies such as Burntisland Fabrications—or what we hope will be an operational BiFab at some time in the next few months—to look at parts of their potential operations. We need to sell their services abroad, but we want to sell abroad the services that are the most carbon helpful. There is a real job to do there. There is also a real threat but, with a joined-up industrial strategy that is informed by serious forward-looking analysis of where job flows will be, it will be possible to do that.

Many people whom we represent, who work in gas and other areas, are not necessarily looking at immediate job losses. It is fairly uncontroversial to say that gas will continue, but we should already be looking at and asking questions about things such as hydrogen and the training and skills needs to deal with them, because they are not uncontroversial. To be frank, it is not the case that there will be no pain there, but there are definitely prophylactic and investment-led things that we can do to mitigate the impacts on the workers whom we represent.

Rhoda Grant

Are schools, colleges and universities looking at that? Are we bringing up a generation of people who will be ready for such change and innovation? Are employers looking at their workforces? People will work for a lot longer. We are lucky that we are living a lot longer, and we can see the pension age going up, but are people who are moving through the workforce being retrained? Are they aware of the changes that will happen? What can we do to make them adaptable?

Dave Moxham

I cannot honestly and with any authority tell members whether that is happening systematically, but I have seen some good examples. I have seen what Fife College offers with respect to a potential apprenticeship and other training that relates to what we hope will be a rise in decommissioning and renewables production in factories. You would need to ask somebody else whether that is happening systematically. However, it is vital to identify that as an issue that we could undoubtedly do better on, however well we are doing now. That is also vital for the community messaging and community development that I am sure Suzy Goodsir is interested in, too.

Stewart Stevenson

In the discussion, we have covered the issue of getting buy-in from individuals, but perhaps we have done that less so with regard to buy-in from sectors. I have jotted down a wee list of counters—things that make it difficult. I ask for comments and suggestions, starting with Suzy Goodsir, who earlier made specific reference to driving acceptance.

John Scott mentioned the rating system. There is a counter to doing good things to a house, because, if the quality of the house is improved, at the next revaluation it might be moved to a more expensive notch. There is a perverse incentive not to improve houses. When a house is improved for the purpose of climate sustainability, it potentially becomes more valuable and has a longer lifespan, yet mortgage providers do not reflect that in the risk pricing, which is the interest rate that is charged for the mortgage. They should do so.

The cleanest form of energy for heating houses that is readily available is electric heating, but that is the most expensive way to heat a house. That is perverse in terms of the climate change agenda.

Heat transmission, which happens over relatively short distances, is the one area of public utility for which there is no wayleave. The utility supplier does not have an automatic right to deliver heat, whereas telephone, electricity and gas suppliers have wayleave rights—they have to compensate landowners over whose land they go, but they have the right to go over the land. There is nothing similar for heat.

There has been a huge move from diesel cars to petrol. Diesel cars are 50 per cent more efficient in extracting energy from their fuel, albeit that they create particulate contaminations. With regard to this narrow agenda, it is perverse to move back from diesel to petrol.

Finally, there is a good example of behaviour change that might pick up on some of the things that John Ferguson said about plastics. Like others, I have a plastic bag in my hip pocket alongside my wallet. It is not an economic thing—10p is neither here nor there on an MSP’s salary, to be blunt. The tiny thing of a charge for bags has genuinely changed behaviour. What opportunities are we missing? The plastic bag is not a tax, but that is a legislative quirk. Should we be more rigorous in tackling the use of plastics in packaging in retail to have the same effect? How do we get buy-in? It is policymakers in Government who are not doing enough.

Suzy Goodsir

The question is wide ranging. I will pick up on a couple of points.

On the opportunities for behaviour change, one of the most challenging areas is transport. We have talked about electric vehicles, and air travel is one of the elephants in the room. There is a big issue around social norms and aspirations. Air travel will become one of the big issues in the context of long-term challenging targets.

I am not sure that the rating system is the right way to introduce incentives for home energy changes. It was included in legislation 10 years ago and no one picked up on it. On house values and energy efficiency changes, when we buy and sell houses today, the houses have an energy performance certificate. Do people look at it? I am not sure that people understand it. A lot of education is still needed.

The key driver for people making energy efficiency changes to their houses is the changes to their bills in the short term. That is the thing to focus on. The key barrier is the capital cost of the measures and the upheaval in the house. Any incentives need to get people over the hump of making the changes in the short term.

The Convener

Did anyone else have points to make on that specific area? Richard Lyle wants to come in briefly.

Richard Lyle (Uddingston and Bellshill) (SNP)

I was a councillor, and I think that you will find that the banding of houses does not change until they are sold. I have upgraded my house a number of times, and my banding has not changed in the past 40 years.

Claudia Beamish

My question is initially for Dave Moxham, but I hope that Angus McCrone might comment from a finance perspective and that others will comment from their perspectives.

The Government is creating a just transition commission, but that is not to be legislated for in the bill. I seek your comments on whether legislating would help the commission to carry out its functions better. Would independence from Government help? Will you also comment on the reporting mechanisms and any other aspects that you think are significant to help affected communities and workers?

Dave Moxham

I will briefly explain the thinking. We strongly support the just transition commission, which is a Scottish Government initiative, and we hope that it has reasonable support across the chamber. The purpose is reflected in some of the evidence that I have given already. We think that the commission is a key way in which we can fill or bridge the gap between the idea and the delivery. It needs to engage with key institutions, such as the national investment bank, which I have mentioned, as well as local authorities and enterprise agencies. I hope that I am not giving away any secrets when I say that the Scottish Government’s initial proposal is for a two-year commission. However, we see it as the companion piece to achieving our targets right through the process. That does not mean that it should be an unchanging or static body, but that should be the initial commitment. That would embed the principle that, as we look forward to every step that we will take, we need to look at the economic impacts, buy-in and social justice.

The commission should have a fair degree of independence and autonomy from the Scottish Government. That point is not based on mistrust; it is based on our experience of commissions that have had independent or semi-independent secretariats and that could take advice from a wide range of people, which have performed effectively.

The commission should be in legislation, because that would be a statement of future intent. It should be suitably independent, because that would make it operate more effectively. It should be able to require—as far as any commission can—input and reports from all the key institutions, whether that is the new infrastructure commission, the national investment bank or all the rest of it. The commission will centralise the ideas of decent jobs, community justice, a just transition and proper climate change action and burn those into people’s minds, whether that is legislators or, eventually, the consumers who we hope will change their behaviour.

Claudia Beamish

Perhaps we can hear from Angus McCrone and others if they want to comment on that.

Angus McCrone

I want to say something on the oil and gas transition. Electric vehicles are coming in the car sector, and electric buses are coming very rapidly—perhaps more rapidly—worldwide. However, those account for only part of oil demand. Cars account for only about 20 per cent of world oil demand. Even on our very aggressive forecasts for electric vehicle uptake, we see only about 7 million barrels of oil per day being taken out by 2040 as a result of electric cars and buses. I do not think that the oil sector is going to die off quickly.

The same is true of gas, which is still going to be an important fuel in the UK and elsewhere for balancing the system. There will be a change in the way that it is used—it will be used less for baseload and more for peak periods. The scenario for oil and gas jobs in the Aberdeen area is not as immediately pressing as some people suggest. Obviously, there are issues involving a slow dwindling of activity, but there have been huge swings before, with oil prices going as low as $10 and as high as $140.

Claudia Beamish

I have a finance question about a just transition commission or, beyond that, simply a just transition. Do you have any suggestions about how finance for the future can be equitable in terms of supporting workers? Can there be any criteria for investment or any expectations set? I know that Mark Carney has highlighted climate change as being a serious imperative. How do these issues connect in relation to companies, finance and research and development? Do you have any comments on that?

Angus McCrone

That is not really my area. Other witnesses might have a better idea about that.

John Ferguson

There is an investment community in Edinburgh, made up of companies such as Baillie Gifford, which is one of the largest fundholders in the world, that have departments that look at the ethical frameworks of investments and have global concordats about what ethical investment is. Within that community, there are growing standards to ensure that those investments are secure. There is a whole area of global investments that are subject to those standards.

If you ask the experts in the global financial community who are concerned about equitable investment and whether they are investing in the right things and not the wrong things, you will find some good indicators of what is good investment and what is not. However, the global financial community is wider and perhaps less well intentioned, sometimes.

The Convener

I am conscious that we do not have much time left, and I apologise to members who might not be able to ask questions. Richard Lyle will ask the next question. If there is any time left after that, we can perhaps have further questions.

Richard Lyle

There have been a lot of comments that I do not have time to go through, but I will say that I come from an area—Lanarkshire—that previously had mining and steel industries. Times have been hard, but we have recovered to a good degree. I wish Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire well. Of course, they keep saying that there is no oil left, but then they come out the next day and say, “We’ve just found a new field.” In any case, we have to prepare and ensure that people who are in excellent jobs up there continue in those jobs and are supported.

Anyway, here is my last question. Has any of you carried out an economic assessment of the costs and benefits of mitigating and adapting to climate change, because that is what we will have to do?

Dave Moxham

The short answer is no, and it would be an enormous undertaking. As I said earlier, in our view, that would be a primary function of a just transition commission, because you cannot consider this issue without considering the employment impacts.

I acknowledge what you say about the area that you represent and the coal industry, but that was not the universal experience of people in the coal industry. At the moment, there are some quite nice examples in Canada and Spain of people going through just transition from coal in a far more positive way, and I would be happy to send the committee links to those examples if you are interested.

You have asked an enormous question. I would be surprised if any analyst were able to tell you that they had done that, but I think that they might be able to suggest ways in which we might approach that in the period ahead.

Richard Lyle

We have heard comments about £13 billion. Does anyone have an idea where that figure comes from?

Dave Moxham

I have seen various figures using various methodologies, but digging into that and doing it in a systematic way is a big job, which I am not qualified to do.

The Convener

John Ferguson wants to answer the main question.

John Ferguson

I do not know whether there was an economic impact assessment for the bill. Obviously, such assessments have to be done for bills.

Under environmental regulation, businesses such as ours have to report their current performance. We look very carefully at the auditing process for that and the cost benefit analysis of, for example, stopping the use of generated power because it costs a lot of money and has a serious impact on the environment through carbon, and making a transition to wind power. We do very detailed cost benefit analysis at a company level, which is driven by regulation. If you can extend the requirement to do that and aggregate the answers, you will get a good idea of what those savings are. It is a very important question.

The Convener

We have one minute left, if anyone wants to come in.

Mark Ruskell

Can Dave Moxham tell me about the relationship between the just transition commission and the UK Committee on Climate Change, which is obviously a statutory adviser? Somebody has to help the Government make a decision about whether a pathway is technically, socially or economically feasible. What do you see as the just transition commission’s role in working with the UK CCC on that question?

Dave Moxham

That is a helpful question. We would see that relationship as very important, not least because what a just transition commission needs to consider, when creating the kind of investment environment that we need in order to achieve things, is not limited to powers that rest in this place.

There are a number of issues around what we would describe as the quality of employment, which is what we are looking to guarantee. Going back to Aberdeen, one of the problems for just transition is that it is hard to capture the value of all the opportunities in a place like that, because the way in which employment is regulated discriminates against local labour and is in favour of different models of employment.

For a range of reasons, because powers are held in a different place, it is vital that the just transition commission has a strong relationship with the CCC, although it would obviously not be statutory.

The Convener

I thank all our panellists, both remote and in the room. The evidence session has been hugely interesting. I am sorry that we do not have more time. It is difficult to find time on a Thursday, as committee meetings have to finish earlier on Thursdays.

At our next meeting on 20 November, the committee will continue its consideration of the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill.

The public part of the meeting is now closed and the committee is moving into private session, so I request that the public gallery be vacated.

11:02 Meeting continued in private until 11:22.  



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Sixth meeting transcript

The Convener

Under agenda item 2, the committee will take evidence on the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill. This is the sixth of the committee’s evidence sessions with stakeholders.

I am delighted to welcome our first panel this morning. Teresa Anderson is policy and communications officer on climate and resilience with Action Aid International; Jim Densham is senior land use policy officer with the RSPB Scotland, and is representing Scottish Environment LINK; Gina Hanrahan is head of policy at WWF Scotland; Professor Tahseen Jafry is the director of the centre for climate justice; Alan Munro is a member of Young Friends of the Earth Scotland; Siri Pantzar is policy operational volunteer with the 2050 climate group; and Caroline Rance is climate campaigner with Friends of the Earth Scotland.

There will be a lot of questions that all of you may think that you have something to say about. In order to manage our time, I have asked members to direct their questions to individuals. Do not think that you have to answer every question; we will run out of time if you do that. We are going to be efficient and targeted.

I will open up the questioning with a question about the bill, the Paris agreement and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent report. Perhaps all of you can answer this question briefly. Is the bill adequate in terms of compliance with the Paris agreement and the recent IPCC report?

Caroline Rance (Friends of the Earth Scotland)

The Paris agreement commits all nations to holding the increase in local temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursuing efforts to limit that to 1.5°C. The IPCC report, which came out just a few weeks ago, made the pathway that we need to be on to meet those targets very clear, and it talked about the need for urgent and rapid transformational change.

On the targets in the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill, as introduced, we have particular concern about the pathway to 2030, which has not significantly changed from the pathway that was set out in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. Obviously, the targets in the 2009 act were set more than nine years ago and, at that time, we assumed that a global deal would be made in Copenhagen that would limit the temperature rise. That failed to happen, of course. When we set those targets, we had not yet breached a 1°C temperature rise. It is quite inconceivable to think that a pathway that we set in those circumstances more than nine years ago remains consistent with the significant increase in ambition under the Paris agreement.

The First Minister has spoken very clearly about the need for Scotland to play our full part in delivering the Paris agreement but, unfortunately, with the targets that have been brought forward, the bill will not deliver it.

Teresa Anderson (Action Aid International)

The IPCC gave us a lot of new, very clear information that we really need to take to heart. If we take seriously the mission to limit the increase in warming to 1.5°C and to avert runaway climate change, we really need to listen to the science from the IPCC, which has told us that we will pretty much use up the carbon budget for 1.5°C within 12 years unless we take absolutely radical transformation action right now. There is no avoiding that—the science is very clear.

I recognise that the bill was drafted before the IPCC report came out, but if you are serious in asking the question of yourselves, for the sake of Scotland and the world you need to understand what that will mean and acknowledge that the bill is not strong enough in a number of ways. We are talking about a 12-year timeline and having a net zero target by 2050, but 2050 is almost irrelevant if we use up the budget within 12 years. We need a much steeper curve of emissions reduction in the near term rather than focusing on the long-term target.

The Convener

It is not enough just to set targets; we need to achieve the targets. Are the pathways clear enough in the bill, or will setting targets force everything else to happen? We have heard views on that question over the past few weeks. We do not want to set targets that we will fail to reach, because we want to be a world leader on the issue. If we fail, the message will be that the targets are unachievable. What are your views on that?

Teresa Anderson

We are treating something that is so important as an existential crisis. It is better to set high targets that force us to achieve more than to set achievable targets that could lead to planetary breakdown. Failure to meet a political goal is less of a disaster than failure to meet climate targets.

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP)

I want to pick up on the word “science”, which I think that both Caroline Rance and Teresa Anderson used. The IPCC report is a review of the science. Who should choose the numbers in the targets? Should it be politicians or scientists?

Caroline Rance

It is pretty clear that our targets should be based on what climate science and climate justice demand as being Scotland’s fair and equitable contribution to our legal international obligations under the Paris agreement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. How we implement those targets is a political decision, which should be based on what is right for Scotland.

Stewart Stevenson

I understand perfectly the definition of climate science. However, climate justice, which I know about from looking at the work of the Mary Robinson Foundation, is not a science-based observation but a moral observation—which I support, by the way. Is that a correct interpretation?

Caroline Rance

Climate justice is about ensuring that we acknowledge our historical responsibilities, which is an important point to take into account whenever we look at the targets. The Paris agreement does not set out only the temperature goals. Article 2.1 sets out those goals, and article 2.2 says:

“This Agreement will be implemented to reflect equity”.

Climate justice is an important consideration that is embedded in the heart of the Paris agreement, so it is fundamental that we consider climate justice when we apportion the global carbon budget in order to come up with our targets.

Siri Pantzar (2050 Climate Group)

On the one hand, we are looking at international equity and justice, and, on the other, we are looking at intergenerational equity and justice. As we have discussed, if we run out of our carbon budget after 12 years—or a bit longer, if we manage to expand our ambition—it will be much more difficult for those of us who will be dealing with the issue in 2030 or 2040 if we have no budget to balance. It will be much more just and productive to make the change at this point, when we have a bit of wriggle room and a bit of space for a managed transition, rather than in 2030 or 2040. We might not have that budget then, so our options would be different.

Gina Hanrahan (WWF Scotland)

I go back, if I may, to the convener’s first question, which was whether the bill is adequate in terms of delivering on the Paris agreement.

One of the fundamental questions that needs to be answered about the bill is what temperature target it is aiming for. There has not yet been enough clarity about that from the Scottish Government. The IPCC report lays bare the stark difference in effects between 1.5°C and 2°C. If we go for 2°C, 60 million more people would be exposed to severe drought and 1.3 billion more people would be exposed to extreme heat waves. It would mean an ice-free Arctic ocean once every 10 years as opposed to once every 100 years. It would also mean that we would lose virtually all our coral reefs, whereas with a 1.5°C target, we have a chance of saving up to 30 per cent. Losing coral reefs is obviously a fundamental problem in itself, but the reefs are also an ecosystem on which 1 billion people depend. From our perspective, the bill needs to aim for the 1.5°C target.

It is clear from the IPCC report that the globe as a whole needs to aim for net zero carbon roughly in the 2050 range. As we have been told, that is the target that the bill is aiming for: 90 per cent equals carbon neutrality. However, that would place Scotland only at the global average effort by 2050, which would not do enough to tackle the equity dimension. It would also not do enough to acknowledge Scotland’s huge economic potential from our vast renewable resources and vast carbon storage potential. If we cannot do this, I do not see which other country can do it. We would like the bill to set iconic long-term targets to eliminate our contribution to climate change entirely by 2050, and stronger early action.

We could spend quite a bit of time exploring the feasibility question, if the committee is interested in that. The bill has set a 90 per cent target because the United Kingdom Committee on Climate Change, when it produced its advice in 2017, said that that was at the limits of feasibility. That was based on 2015 advice developed for the fifth carbon budget at the UK level. There is a really exciting global conversation happening now about net zero and 1.5°C, stimulated by the Paris agreement, which means that a plethora of new research is being produced that tackles the feasibility question.

Yesterday, for instance, new evidence came through from the Energy Transitions Commission, which is led by Adair Turner, the former chair of the CCC, and involves lots of oil and gas majors. It shows that we can make huge progress towards net zero in the industrial, hard-to-treat sectors. Pathways have been developed at the European level by the European Climate Foundation. There has been new evidence on the potential for negative emissions from the Royal Academy of Engineering and a number of other sources, including some Scottish academics.

The Convener

My colleagues will address the feasibility question later, so we will have ample opportunity to discuss that. Professor Jafry wanted to say something in response to the first question.

Professor Tahseen Jafry (Centre for Climate Justice)

I echo what my colleagues have said, and what the IPCC report says. The headline that everyone talks about is that every extra bit of warming matters. In that context, there are challenges in going from 1.5°C to 2°C, not just for our ecosystems but for society, in terms of human health and wellbeing, and the achievement of the UN’s sustainable development goals. In particular, there is the difference that it will make to the risk of droughts, food shortages, floods and heat-related deaths. It is important to bear in mind the implications of 2°C for people living in the global south, the Arctic regions and the most challenging and vulnerable parts of the world.

I want to pick up on the point about climate science, and whether climate justice is a science. We very much advocate consideration of the impact that small temperature hikes will have on society as a whole. We need to build an evidence base around that—the difference that such hikes will make to people’s livelihoods and the implications for society’s ability to build resilience and live sustainably. It is important that we build on the evidence, get that right and drill right down into the human aspects. We need to consider the implications of not reducing our carbon emissions and not reaching our targets. I feel that there is still a bit of a gap there—it is a bit of an unknown.

The Convener

You are talking about how not reducing our carbon emissions would impact on individuals.

Professor Jafry

Yes.

09:45  



Jim Densham (Scottish Environment LINK)

I want to talk about the impacts on wildlife. We cannot afford to look at some of the pathways and think that we can have an overshoot—that is, we go beyond 1.5°C and then come back to it through sequestration and the removal of carbon from the atmosphere. Wildlife is already being seriously affected. We are not talking about a future threat; this is a threat that is happening right now and is affecting many species, even in Scotland. We used to say that 2°C was safe warming, but we have a great deal more science now, as well as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, and we can see that we need to stick to 1.5°C and not go beyond it. If we come back from beyond 1.5°C, it might be fine for humans, but it will have serious impacts for a lot of wildlife.

The United Kingdom Committee on Climate Change talked about the need for us to have emissions reductions of around 89 to 97 per cent by 2050 in order for us to return to 1.5°C. We need to ensure that we do not go beyond 1.5°C. Many of us in the wildlife non-governmental organisations want to ensure that we have net zero emissions by 2050 in order to avoid that catastrophic prospect for many species.

Of course, the implications for people are catastrophic as well. The IPCC report says that 20 to 40 per cent of people now live in a 1.5°C location—we are not talking about a world where everywhere is warming by more than 1.5°C; we are talking about hot spots and cold spots. We are quite fortunate here in that we have only 1°C of warming, although the North Sea is warming by 2°C. There are differences all over the place, and we need to ensure that the world is safe for wildlife and people.

Mark Ruskell (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Green)

The difference between 1.5°C and 2°C is interesting. This committee has not really covered what implicit target is in the bill with regard to global temperature and Scotland’s contribution to that. The IPCC took a global view of the impacts. Has there been any analysis of what that means for Scotland?

Jim Densham

I do not think that there has been any analysis of what the difference between 1.5°C and 2°C means for Scotland.

Mark Ruskell

Do we have any species that would be threatened by such warming? Might we see an increasing refugee crisis in Europe?

Jim Densham

There are many species that are already experiencing the impacts of climate change—we set some of that out in the evidence that we provided. I mentioned that the North Sea is warming by 2°C. That has affected the marine food chain quite a lot. The sand eel story is quite well known. In the North Sea, the food chain starts with the phytoplankton, which the zooplankton—the copepods and the other small plankton—feed on. However, those cold-water plankton are vulnerable to temperature changes and we have found that they have moved north and have been replaced by warmer-water plankton that are not as nutritious, which means that the sand eels that feed on them cannot thrive and their numbers reduce, which has an impact on our sea birds. Sand eels are a key species for kittiwakes and puffins, and we have already seen a 60 per cent reduction in Scotland’s kittiwakes, even without massive amounts of climate change—in areas such as Orkney and Shetland, there has been an 80 per cent reduction. The warming of the sea is affecting us right now, and we are likely to see whole colonies being wiped out.

The Convener

We will move to questions from Finlay Carson. Everyone will have ample opportunity to make points that they have not had a chance to make so far.

Finlay Carson (Galloway and West Dumfries) (Con)

The bill will amend only those parts of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 that relate to emissions reduction targets and associated reporting duties. The consultation focused on the strategic ambition and not delivery mechanisms. Is it realistic that we should consider increased target setting without also considering what will be required to meet the targets?

Professor Jafry

Target setting is important, but I also recognise the importance of thinking about our infrastructure and what is needed to enable us to achieve those targets.

We have just finished for the Scottish Government the Arctic mapping report, which looks at moving away from oil and gas exploration towards decommissioning and the benefits of renewable energy. The Scottish Government has an opportunity to step into that zone and demonstrate global leadership, but there are also huge opportunities for the economy in terms of jobs if people get behind the development of the infrastructure for renewable energy technology. In any case, whether it happens through the jobs market, technology and innovation or the partnerships and links that are built with other organisations, we need to ensure that this is at the heart and core of what we stand for. It is critical that we bring all of these things together.

Siri Pantzar

Whether the investment in innovation and infrastructure comes from business or the public sector, it will still follow the setting of ambitious targets and predictable policy. The direction of movement needs to be clearly set out not only for the public sector but for small to medium-sized enterprises, other businesses and, indeed, the people of Scotland—for example, young people trying to decide what they want to study and looking at the direction in which society is going. It is important to focus on how we achieve targets, but having the targets in the first place will open up the solution-making process to all of Scottish society, where there is a lot of creativity and innovation capacity both within and outwith the public sector.

Gina Hanrahan

The bill presents a huge opportunity to align targets with the sectoral policy effort that is needed to deliver them. I suppose that the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 set a precedent in the way that it covered many sectoral policy areas, and Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, which several of us around the table are members of, has been calling for a number of sectoral policies to be enshrined in the new legislation. For example, it is asking for action to be taken in our building sector through the setting of an energy performance certificate standard of C by 2025 or 2030, which perhaps the committee can explore with the Existing Homes Alliance Scotland in the next evidence session; for fossil-fuel vehicles to be phased out by 2030; and for a nitrogen budget to be set for the agriculture sector. Those are our policy areas, but we would argue that they all fall within the scope of the bill, because they are about setting emissions targets for those specific sectors.

Another interesting question is how the bill deals with investment and the budget. We would like it to tidy up some of the provisions around the budget, particularly with regard to section 94 reporting, to ensure that we report on the change in emissions instead of the emissions in any given year. We also want the bill to ensure that there is a low-carbon element to the infrastructure commission, because we need to get our capital investment right for the future. Finally, we want the new budgetary process to be aligned with the monitoring process for the climate change plan. The bill presents opportunities that the committee should consider.

Teresa Anderson

I would also remind members of the lesson to be drawn from the development of renewables, which have far outperformed what was projected for them in terms of scale, pricing, feasibility and so on. If people had planned things on the basis of what they thought that renewables were going to do, they would have very much underestimated their potential. That is a really strong lesson for us, because we need to remember that political feasibility changes once you change the politics. You cannot define everything on the basis of what is considered to be politically feasible at a particular time. If ever there was going to be a time for a bill to take a leap of faith, this would be the time.

Caroline Rance

Staying with that theme of learning lessons from the past, I think that we should remember what happened with the 2009 act. The target of a 42 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020 was set not because we knew exactly how it would be met but because it was the right one based on climate science and Scotland’s contribution to tackling climate change. In fact, the first report on proposals and policies, which was published in 2011, did not set out the entire pathway to meeting that target. Now we are well on course to exceeding it.

Rhoda Grant (Highlands and Islands) (Lab)

We have heard why we, as a developed country, have to take on a larger share of responsibility, and we all agree that there has to be transformational change. The committee heard evidence at earlier sessions on how that impacts on different people. For example, people in rural areas people might not have access to public transport and might live in old draughty houses that are hard to insulate. The reasonably well off will be able to afford electric cars, photovoltaics to charge them and good insulation.

When using a carrot-and-stick approach to change behaviour, how do we make sure that we are not penalising people who do not have the wherewithal to do anything about it?

Professor Jafry

We need to develop a policy that has ensuring social justice and equality at its heart. With a changing climate, it is inevitable that the poorest will suffer the most. Those who are already able to adapt to the environment will channel their way out of the situation. With behavioural and societal change, expectations can be unmanageable. We need to be realistic about how to achieve behavioural change in society and make sure that there are structures and resources in place to support those who are in the most vulnerable situations. They also need to be part of the conversation.

On temperature change, the opening up of the Arctic oceans will have significant implications for people in Scotland, particularly those who live in rural and remote communities in the Highlands and Islands. That presents opportunities, challenges and risks. We need to bear in mind that those are the areas where much of the impact will be as a result of the geopolitical governance of the opening up of the Arctic seas.

Gina Hanrahan

An interesting element in the 2009 act is the provision for the CCC to give advice on targets. It is required to balance a number of different factors, including the top-down science and the economics. There are backstops in the existing legislation to ensure that, for example, rural and island communities and connectivity are considered, and that we do not leave anyone behind in the transition. Balancing all those important factors is to the forefront of minds when the CCC advises on targets.

The CCC does not have the same criteria to consider when thinking about policy effort. That might be something to look at for the bill. Is there a role for the CCC in giving stronger policy advice to the Scottish Government that considers those factors in more depth?

Stewart Stevenson

I want to go back to Caroline Rance’s point about the 2009 act, which I took through Parliament.

If I recall correctly, the United Kingdom Committee on Climate Change recommended a 34 per cent target and said that 42 per cent was at the limits of practicality. That was the phrase then used, which is exactly the same phrase as is being used about 90 per cent. Is my recollection wrong?

Caroline Rance

I was not around at the time of the 2009 act, but I believe that it was the case that the 42 per cent target was put forward on the assumption that higher targets would come through from other countries, including from the European Union. That did not happen.

In any case, whether 42 per cent was thought to be the limit of feasibility at the time, we have clearly shown in the nine years since that target was set that setting strong targets has driven the technological and social change that has led to the cutting of emissions by almost half.

10:00  



The Convener

We will move on to some questions from Angus MacDonald.

Angus MacDonald (Falkirk East) (SNP)

I have two quick questions. We know that the Scottish Government consulted on the bill over the summer of 2017, and we know what the main themes of the consultation were. Are the results of the consultation adequately reflected in the bill? Many of the respondents to the consultation stated that the bill should set a net zero target. Should a net zero target and other matters, such as the delivery of the target and the establishment of a just transition commission, have been consulted on?

Jim Densham

Analysis that we did of the responses to the consultation showed that 99 per cent of the people who responded—someone else will correct me if that is not right—wanted a net zero target to be set. You cannot get a much stronger response than that—unless, of course, you get 100 per cent. Why does the bill not include a target of achieving net zero emissions by 2050? It is clear that it should do.

Siri Pantzar

I agree with Jim Densham. A net zero target was called for in the consultation, and it is clear that the Scottish public are keen to drive that forward. Such a target would be a powerful image that would make it clear to the public that we are talking about transformational change. A target of a 90 per cent reduction leaves a little bit of space, which allows everybody to think that they do not have to change by quite as much. A net zero target would serve as a clear image for the public and would let all sectors know that they needed to look at what work they were doing. There is a public drive for having a net zero target.

Professor Jafry

I want to pick up on the reference to a just transition commission. As someone who works in the university sector, I have not seen much on what that commission would be about and what it would involve. I have asked for advice on some of the things that it could consider. I think that there is a huge overlap between the targets to do with achieving a just transition and the targets to do with achieving a climate-just world. The overlap between the two is a grey area. Much remains unknown about that shady area. There are some challenging and difficult questions to do with the possibility of people losing their jobs and being redeployed, and there are sectoral implications for infrastructure and so on. I would welcome a conversation that would unpack those issues in much more detail.

Caroline Rance

I have a point to make about the just transition commission proposal, which ties in with Rhoda Grant’s question about how we make sure that the transition to a low-carbon economy is fair to everyone in Scotland. At the heart of the issue is the idea that, as we make that inevitable transition, we must ensure that it does not damage workers and communities that are currently dependent on high-carbon industries.

Friends of the Earth Scotland is a member of the just transition partnership, and we strongly believe that a just transition commission should be established in legislation and that it should be there for the long term. We will need the commission to advise us for as long as it takes us to make the transition, because the challenges will change over time. It is a case of ensuring that the right people—the people who are impacted—are at the table and have a say in how we make that transition, and that they help us to go in the right direction and to choose the right policies.

Angus MacDonald

That was helpful.

Mark Ruskell

I have a follow-up question. I am interested in your views on the role of oil and gas in the Scottish Government’s plans and the target. Do you think that oil and gas have a future in 2050? Oil & Gas UK has told us that oil and gas will be meeting 67 per cent of our energy demands in 2050. Is that implicit in the Scottish Government’s targets?

Gina Hanrahan

The 2009 act as it is currently designed is primarily about production emissions rather than consumption emissions. We count oil and gas sector emissions, particularly as they apply to refining, and what gets burnt in transport and other sectors. A lot of evidence has emerged over recent years that shows that we can completely decarbonise the energy sectors in particular. We have already made enormous progress on electricity in that respect, the transition is accelerating in transport at an enormous pace, and there is clarity that we can now push on with electrification, particularly in the heat sector.

By 2050, the demand for oil and gas products will be significantly reduced. I do not have a figure for what that will look like, but obviously it is something to test. However, there will clearly need to be a recognition that the sector must have a managed decline. The just transition commission will play an extremely important role in that context.

The Convener

How important is carbon capture and storage in the mix? Everything that I read seems to say that it is an essential part of the solution, but we had the situation in which UK Government funding for CCS projects was taken away.

Teresa Anderson

I remember when the UK Government decided that, instead of investing in emission reductions, it would invest its climate change budget in CCS. That was about nine years ago, but we have had very little to show for it. Hundreds of millions or billions of pounds have been invested in CCS, but there is nothing to show for it. It breaks my heart to think of all the emissions reductions and climate action that could have happened in that time instead of the pathway that was chosen. The UK Government has made the right choice now to dial back a bit from that CCS investment, but we still keep hearing about this imaginary, magical future technology, which everybody else doubts will be able to deliver anything like on the scale that some parties promise.

The Convener

Maybe the problem is that the funding was taken away from CCS at a crucial point. Stewart Stevenson will know very well that a project in his constituency was very close to winning a bid at that time.

Teresa Anderson

It is not only the technology that has limits; it is the scale. Even if the technical barriers are overcome, the scale of storage potential is still very limited. A lot of proponents believe that bio-energy with carbon capture and storage—BECCS—would be able to increase the potential, but that has massive socioeconomic costs because it would lead to conflict over land use.

Gina Hanrahan

In the conversation that took place around the Peterhead project, the focus was very much on a power sector model for CCS. The power sector has massively evolved in recent years and we now know that we do not particularly need CCS to decarbonise the power sector. However, there might be a role for CCS in the future in the hard-to-treat sectors, particularly the industrial sector. The debate is rightly focused there at this stage.

There are big questions about the role of bio-energy plus CCS in the future. We need to be absolutely clear that we are not going to use a conversation about the development of BECCS to delay doing what we know how to do now. That is the plea that I would make to the committee.

Jim Densham

The IPPC’s 1.5° report that was recently released talks about BECCS and CCS being uncertain and entailing “clear risks”. The technologies have not been developed enough, which is perhaps a failure of investment and understanding. We are concerned about talk of BECCS models on a massive global scale, because they would have clear land-use change impacts and knock-on biodiversity impacts.

It is the same for Scotland. If we are going to use a lot of our land for bio-energy crops, then burn them, capture that carbon and put it underground, we have to think about the impacts of that on wildlife, society and livelihoods. If we do not want to have a bad impact on our wildlife and our rural communities, we need to do all the things that we can do now rather than rely on a future technology.

Stewart Stevenson

I want to ask Teresa Anderson where she got the statement that we had limited carbon storage capacity. My understanding is that we have hundreds of years’ worth of storage in the North Sea for all the carbonic acid that we could possibly produce from everything in Scotland. It might be that what I am hearing is a more global statement. I just want to be clear about what was meant.

Teresa Anderson

You are quite right. I am looking at the global picture.

Stewart Stevenson

Thank you.

Mark Ruskell

Perhaps we could hear a view from each panel member, if that would be all right, convener. I want to come back to the question of there being a net zero carbon target or a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target. When should it be set? Should it be in the bill? Do we have clarity about the pathways to get there, and does that matter? When should a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target be set for?

Caroline Rance

First, we should clarify what we mean by net zero emissions. We have heard people referring to net zero carbon, to net zero carbon dioxide and to net zero greenhouse gas emissions. It is important to clarify that the bill sets out clearly what is meant by “net zero” in the Scottish context: it is a 100 per cent emissions reduction for all greenhouse gases. There has been a bit of unhelpful confusion through use of the term “carbon”.

Friends of the Earth Scotland has taken a very heavy equity steer on the targets that we are considering for the bill. We have used the fairshares methodology that was drawn up by the Stockholm Environment Institute. That methodology’s premise is that we can burn a finite amount of greenhouse gases to stay well below 2°C or 1.5°C. That is the carbon budget. To apportion the carbon budget, fairshares looks at two things: our historical responsibility or our cumulative contribution to climate change over the years, and at the capability of different countries in terms of finance and technology. The methodology comes up with a net zero emissions target for Scotland in the range of years from 2036 to 2041. Friends of the Earth Scotland supports a target date of 2040.

We also believe that the most important target in the bill is the 2030 target. Using fairshares, that will mean a reduction of at least 77 per cent by 2030.

Siri Pantzar

The 2050 Climate Group is a membership organisation: we have not set a specific target figure in our consultation of our members. We consulted more than 75 young people when we were looking into our consultation response, and we had support for the net zero emissions by 2050 and net zero emissions by 2040 targets.

The crucial point for us is that the target needs to be in the bill so that the signal that there must be transformational change comes out from it loud and clear. Also, similar to the way in which the Paris agreement works, it is important that the bill contains clear mechanisms for raising ambition, and that we bring the target forward as we see more pathways becoming clear.

Alan Munro (Young Friends of the Earth Scotland)

I represent a membership organisation that has not had specific conversations about the actual date at which we would like to reach net zero emissions, but we would, obviously, support a target that is based on Scotland achieving its fair share of global emissions reductions as soon as possible. We support Friends of the Earth Scotland’s analysis using fairshares, which calls for net zero emissions by 2040.

As young people, we see the 2030 target as being the most important for us. As things stand, the 2030 target is no more ambitious than what is in the current legislation, which we see as the Government failing to acknowledge the crisis that we are in. That is, effectively, passing on the burden for the more radical transformative action to young people: we will have to address it in the future if you do not address it now.

We are disappointed to see that a linear gradualist approach to emissions reduction targets has been taken—instead of setting a target to immediately reduce a higher percentage of emissions—with the net zero target being addressed later.

10:15  



Professor Jafry

My rationale is based on objectivity more than anything else. Realism comes into play, but there is a huge opportunity for the Scottish Government to be very ambitious and to set a net zero target for 2040. We have the knowledge, the skills, the technology and the know-how to allow us to get there and to set a realistic target based on what can be achieved and delivered, underpinned by a robust plan. That plan needs to have community engagement at its core, and to have issues related to the economy, governance and society framing it. We need to be very ambitious and bold, but we must also be realistic and have a very clear step plan on how to achieve the target.

Gina Hanrahan

WWF Scotland supports the target of net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. We think that legislating for the target will have an important effect on communities, citizens and businesses, and that it signals that we need to innovate and to change cultural and economic practices.

I will be honest; our position is already a compromise, because we need to balance the scientific argument, which is clear that we need to hit net zero as soon as possible, against what we knew at the time about the feasibility evidence, which showed that there was no clear pathway before 2050. As I said, a lot of new evidence has since been made available, but I emphasise to the committee that WWF supports the target of net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest.

We have since produced, with Vivid Economics, work at UK level that will be published tomorrow, that looks at the earliest possible date for a net zero target. It takes a primarily technology-focused view and shows that the UK as a whole can hit net zero by 2045 under some scenarios. There is a clear possibility that Scotland can go further, so we will also commission Scotland-specific analysis.

Jim Densham

As others would, Scottish Environment LINK would like to see net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, at the latest. It is interesting that in its programme for government the Scottish Government talks about net zero CO2 by that date, so there is a question about non-CO2 emissions, which seems to be the aspect with which the Government does not know how to deal. Those emissions mainly come from farming and land use, so what is the pathway for them?

On pathways, RSPB Scotland has this week published a report called “Balancing Act: How farming can support a net-zero emission target in Scotland”, which asks how we will address non-CO2 emissions from farming and land use. As the title says, it is a balancing act: it is about reducing emissions through efficiency savings as far as possible—which the committee heard a lot about in last week’s session about agriculture—and about boosting the massive potential that we have in Scotland for sequestration through peatland restoration, tree planting, blue carbon and many other things, including habitats. The scientific papers that are quoted in the report state that we have massive potential to do that in Scotland.

It can be hard to see the pathways ahead. The IPCC report says that we need “rapid and far-reaching” transition, that it be unprecedented in scale but not in speed. That struck me: we need to do it on a massive and unprecedented scale—across the globe and across Scotland—that is not, however, unprecedented in speed. We have done things very fast before and we can make the change quickly. If we get on with it and take steps now, as the Committee on Climate Change’s “Land use: Reducing emissions and preparing for climate change” report that came out last week says, we can do that.

Teresa Anderson

Action Aid uses the Stockholm Environment Institute methodology that has been used by Friends of the Earth. I strongly encourage the committee, if it has the chance, to look at the online equity reference calculator to see what different countries’ fair shares, which take into account historic per capita emissions, would be. It is a very interesting tool: the institute has taken the global carbon budget and figured out what each country’s fair share should be.

On that basis, we agree with the analysis that 77 per cent reductions by 2030 and net zero by 2040 would be in line with the fairshares approach, and that all greenhouse gases should be looked at, including non-CO2 gases.

We should bear in mind the point about the steeper curve, which is absolutely critical. The 2030 target is the key issue. The graphs in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report “Emissions Scenarios” are very clear, and scenario 1 is especially clear. If you look at the scenarios, you will see that the first scenario is the socially hopeful one for which we all want to reach. That curve is much steeper, and it does not rely on future technologies that have not yet been invented to solve the problem. If we want to keep in line with the IPCC, that steeper curve is critical. The focus should really be on the 2030 target, with 2040 as the net zero emissions point.

Angus MacDonald

I want to pick up on Jim Densham’s point and the submission from Scottish Environment LINK. I was interested to see in that submission a call to

“Establish a duty for a ‘sunset clause’ for peat extraction in Scotland”.

Peatland restoration has been mentioned. Will Jim Densham expand on that suggestion?

Jim Densham

We have really good targets for peatland restoration in the climate change plan, but the plan is about protection. A sunset clause would relate to areas of land on which consent for extraction of peat has been given. Peat extraction is totally damaging because it releases lots of carbon. Obviously, peat helps people to grow plants, but there are many alternatives. There are many consents out there that companies have been sitting on for many years, of which a vast proportion have not been turned into permissions to extract; they are consents to extract at some point in the future.

We want a sunset clause with a date by which people will need to have stated that they will or will not remove peat, because we believe that many consents will never be removed, but extraction will never happen. If we were to be clear about how much peat would be removed in the future, we could think about how to recompense companies not to extract, and we would be much more certain about how much extraction there will be. If we used that as a way in which to educate people that the practice is very damaging, and that we should not use peat for our horticulture, it would reduce people’s desire to buy the product and, I hope, reduce future extraction. That is a very practical suggestion.

The Convener

I am conscious of the time. Questions and answers should be kept short.

Claudia Beamish (South Scotland) (Lab)

I say for the record that I lodged a stage 2 amendment to the planning bill to that effect, and I understand that the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning is prepared to work on that to make it better for stage 3.

Stewart Stevenson

What bill was it?

Claudia Beamish

It was the Planning (Scotland) Bill. I hope that I said “planning”, because I am a bit obsessed with climate.

I want to go back to Jim Densham. Will you briefly explain to us the open letter on setting targets from farmers and Scottish Environment LINK? The group of signatories is significant and broad. The answer will lead me on to my main question, which is on the significance and importance of the interim targets, for anyone who has not yet spoken about them.

Jim Densham

Agriculture, farming and land use have been seen as quite hard areas in which to reduce emissions. The Government set only a 9 per cent reduction envelope for agriculture in the climate change plan. We believe that that is neither sufficient to move the sector forward nor is it fair, so we drew together people who were keen that we do more, and that the Government provide leadership, to suggest measures that they want. There were 50 signatories to the letter, which called for carbon-neutral farming. We referred to “carbon-neutral farming” so that people would understand the letter, but it is really about greenhouse-gas-neutral farming.

As I said, 50 organisations and individuals, including non-governmental organisations, farming organisations, farmers, academics and other rural groups that were interested signed the letter. People were a bit mixed up on the actual target that we were aiming for, which was a net zero target, but we felt that the most important thing was that those people were keen on the measures that we were talking about. They include, as our submission sets out, better soil management, agroforestry, reducing emissions intensity, helping farmers to become more efficient and much better provision of advice.

I suggest that the committee looks at the evidence from Scottish Environment LINK to be absolutely clear what we were calling for, but there were four measures that the organisations that signed the letter were keen be delivered.

Claudia Beamish

Perhaps I should ask for brief answers so that we can get through all our other questions. Can Scottish Environment LINK and other panel members tell me how the interim targets relate to what the IPCC has said on the need for urgent and rapid transformational change?

Jim Densham

There is a lot of evidence and advice out there on the need for rapid transformational change. We want a target of a 77 per cent reduction by 2030, because if we continue on our current trajectory before we act, we will just allow the status quo to continue as we wait for someone else to act. We need to put in place today or tomorrow the things that we need to do.

Claudia Beamish

Are the things that you have proposed realistic at the moment? You do not need to go into detail—a simple yes, no or maybe will suit us fine.

Jim Densham

Absolutely. In its report “Balancing Act: How farming can support a net-zero emission target in Scotland”, RSPB Scotland makes 10 suggestions for things to be done in the long term—

Claudia Beamish

I am sorry, but I was talking about the interim targets. Just for clarity, can anything be done now in that respect?

Jim Densham

Absolutely. The report sets out 10 recommendations for improving the climate change plan, which would help us to achieve a 9 per cent reduction and then take things further, and makes 10 other very serious suggestions for taking us much further than the 9 per cent target. It sets out a much faster trajectory for how agriculture can help to achieve a 77 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030.

Claudia Beamish

Does anyone else want to come in?

Gina Hanrahan

Perhaps I can explain how we arrived at our ask of a 77 per cent reduction by 2030. There is a needs-based case and a feasibility case for it. With regard to the former, we have based our analysis on the carbon law principle that was developed by Johan Rockström at the Stockholm Resilience Centre and which relies on our halving emissions every decade, as the science tells us we need to do.

On the feasibility case for the 77 per cent target, the fact is that we definitely can get significantly further than the 66 per cent that has already been legislated for: indeed, the Government itself has shown that 71 per cent is a point on the linear trajectory through to net zero by 2050, and in analysing scenarios for the climate change plan that have been published by the Committee on Climate Change and by the Government, and looking at ambitious but credible envelopes within them for specific sectors, we have found that we can easily reach a 73 per cent target by 2032 if we take credible and realistic action. Indeed, in a stretch scenario, we could even get up to 79 per cent—if we do not use the windfall in the land-use sector that the Scottish Government used to backtrack on an ambition in the final climate change plan.

It is important to recognise that in its recent progress report the CCC recognised the need to build in contingency now if we are to meet more stretching targets in the future. Our analysis shows that we can do that and that there are credible policies through which to do it.

Siri Pantzar

My colleagues have responded better than I can to the feasibility question; I am not a technology expert. However, I can say that the setting of credible early targets will allow Scotland to continue along its leadership path and will give it first-mover advantage in building cases for business opportunities and developing the technology of the future.

In addition, I want to highlight that between 2040 and 2050 we will be dealing with adaptation as well as mitigation. The more steps we can take now, while we have the world as we know it, the less we will have to push for radical change at a time when the world will be changing drastically around us.

10:30  



Alan Munro

On the 2030 targets, I re-emphasise the moral urgency that I am here to project. The ambition of the action that we take now is more important than ever because, as has been alluded to, our share of the carbon budget is being used up rapidly. Some reports say that we have up to 12 years left before our fairshares contribution to global emissions reduction has been used up. We need to deliver the emissions reduction consistently with what is demanded by climate science and climate justice. I re-emphasise that young people around the world are already experiencing the impacts of climate change—

The Convener

We are running out of time, and re-emphasis of points that have already been made will eat into our time for other questions. I apologise.

Caroline Rance

In looking ahead at what can be done up until 2030, I reference the climate change plan. The committee spent a great deal of time scrutinising the climate change plan and making thorough recommendations on what could be done to improve it. However, when we saw the final plan earlier this year, we found that the policies in the draft climate change plan that would deliver 1 million tonnes of savings were not in the final climate change plan. There was a rollback in ambition in the final plan from what was in the draft plan. There is a suite of policies that the Scottish Government has already considered and costed, that the CCC has already put forward and which the committee has already scrutinised, that give us significant potential to go further in relation to the targets for 2030.

John Scott (Ayr) (Con)

What are the practical implications of the interim targets that you have proposed for 2030, for example? The Scotch Whisky Association said that, if the 2020 target were revised, meeting the new target would not be easily achievable—“not realistic” are the words that it used. In perhaps accepting that what the Scotch Whisky Association has said are fair comments, could you talk about the implications of the 2030 targets? I declare an interest as a farmer.

Teresa Anderson

I go back to the original question on whether the bill matches the IPCC report. If there was one key word to take away from the IPCC report, it would be “urgency”. Interim targets are clearly necessary in order to meet the urgency question; 2050 targets would not respond sufficiently to that urgency.

You asked about the implications. As has been said, the land and agricultural sector certainly has a role to play—I say that given that you are a farmer. Agriculture accounts for a significant amount of emissions, particularly non-CO2 emissions. As has been alluded to, there are savings to be made that could enhance food security and adaptations, particularly through soil management.

Last week’s CCC report identified that there is a lot of potential if we consider the role of diets as part of land management. Many reports that have come out in the past months have confirmed that analysis. The role of diets and how we use land management in that context will be a big part of future strategies. A lot of gains can be made in the short term by considering that.

Professor Jafry

Underpinning the question on the practical implications of the target for 2030 is what will be the driving force to achieve the target and to make it practical and realistic. We need to mobilise the private sector very quickly to drive emissions reductions in order to meet the target. On the practicalities of reaching a target, conversations with the private sector are critical, and multi-stakeholder conversations need to happen very quickly in order to get buy-in.

John Scott

Last week, we discussed the implications of driving change by legislation or by incentivisation. What are your preferred options, particularly on land use—an issue that I know a bit about—and in relation to the new agriculture bill that will be introduced for when we leave the common agricultural policy?

Professor Jafry

Legislation can sometimes be seen as being top down, particularly in the land use and farming sectors. People who work in that sector come from different socioeconomic strata. If we are driving change by legislation alone, my recommendation would be that we should get good buy-in to the legislation to support its roll-out.

Siri Pantzar

Legislation is not necessarily something that the committee will want simply to give to the agriculture sector. Building engagement with all groups in the sector, including young people, will be crucial to make sure that there are answers to the questions from people who work with the land. Their questions might be different from the questions from people who do not work with the land. Consultation is key in all of this, and that includes building the sense of urgency.

To pick up on John Scott’s question, none of the proposals will be easily achieved. They will be difficult whether they are done now or in the future. There will be difficult choices to be made, but they will be easier to make now than at later stages. None of us thinks that the changes will be easy, but they are necessary.

Jim Densham

As the committee heard at last week’s meeting, the voluntary approach in farming has not produced significant emissions reductions so far. We need to build on it. We certainly need to broaden “Farming for a Better Climate”. We need to give more advice to farmers, to help them to understand. We need a basic level of regulation in order to bring some farmers up to a minimum level. We have talked before about compulsory soil testing to ensure that the basic planning for fertiliser use is in place and that all farmers are doing that testing.

With any new CAP or post-Brexit system of farm payments, there will need to be conditional payments. It is not all about regulation. It is about different layers—some basic regulation, conditional and supported payments, and rewarding farmers for sequestration in future so that, if they need to change their land use and have the opportunity to do so, they can be compensated for payments foregone.

John Scott

Should the ability to modify targets in both directions be included in the bill?

The Convener

Could we have short answers to the question? We have a lot of questions still to ask.

Caroline Rance

We discussed that point at length with the bill team, who convened a discussion group on the technical elements of the bill over the winter.

Instinctively, it feels wrong to allow a mechanism for targets to come down in future. We always want to be driving for more ambition to do better and go further. It is part of the proposal for an inventory freeze to protect annual targets from baseline changes and in the inventories. We are content that the mechanism to bring targets down as well as up is insulated within one part of the bill and that there are significant safeguards to ensure that targets could be brought down only with advice and as the result of an inventory change. That could be done only by regulation, which would be brought before the Parliament for scrutiny.

Finlay Carson

Section 5 sets out the target-setting criteria, which include scientific knowledge, technology, energy policy and so on. The criteria have been updated since the 2009 act to include

“current international carbon reporting practice.”

Are the target-setting criteria appropriate? Stop Climate Chaos Scotland suggested that there should be a definition for “fair and safe” in

“the objective of not exceeding the fair and safe Scottish emissions budget”.

Are the criteria appropriate now?

Caroline Rance

There was a proposal in the consultation to remove the criterion relating to

“the fair and safe Scottish emissions budget”

and we are pleased to see that that objective will be kept in the bill. That is the fundamental, basic, overarching criteria that we should be considering when we set our climate targets.

We are pleased that that is in the bill, but we would like the definition to be strengthened. At present, the definition refers more to the “safe” part of the fair and safe budget; it does not really reflect the “fair” aspect. We think that the UNFCCC principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities should be included, and we would like there to be a requirement for the CCC to consider our fair and safe emissions budget when it produces its five-yearly advice and to include it in its calculations.

With regard to whether the target-setting criteria are still relevant, you are right to say that there is quite a long list of criteria. As I said, we consider the fair and safe budget one, the one that considers our obligations under science and the one that concerns the UNFCCC protocols to be the most important, and we consider the ones that come below that to be more about how we implement the policies.

Gina Hanrahan

A criterion that we see as notably missing is one around public health. A lot of other factors are under consideration, but a lot of the policies that tackle climate change have huge co-benefits in terms of public health, which you can see if you think about initiatives such as insulating people’s homes, ensuring that homes are free of damp and draughts, encouraging people to cycle and walk instead of using their cars, where appropriate, and reducing air pollution. Those initiatives are as much about avoiding costs to the national health service as anything else, and we need to ensure that the CCC can balance that in its criteria.

Jim Densham

Caroline Rance talked about the first three criteria being the top ones because they are the ones that are important, scientifically speaking. I think that the criterion in section 2B(1)(j) of the 2009 act, which is

“environmental considerations and, in particular, the likely impact of the targets on biodiversity”

should also be a top criterion, because, when we are setting targets, we have to make sure that we do not impact on our wildlife and on wildlife around the globe.

Stewart Stevenson

To ensure that I ask my question in the right context, I want to confirm that we have a shared understanding of what the term “net zero emissions target” means. I think that sections 1 and 15 clearly say that “net zero emissions” means that there will still be emissions, not least because when we speak, we create carbon dioxide. However, earlier, there seemed to be a suggestion that we were looking to bring emissions of each of the seven gases to zero. I see that Gina Hanrahan is shaking her head. Fine—I will move to my question.

In relation to the advice that the CCC gives the Government, and which we all see, how should the word “achievable” be defined? A lot of the debate is anchored in different views of what that word means.

Gina Hanrahan

That is a fundamental question with regard to the bill. The bill gives achievability a status that it did not have in the previous legislation. Previously, feasibility of technology was one of the criteria that had to be balanced along with a number of other factors, including science and economics, when the CCC was giving advice. In the bill, the only reason why we would set the net zero target is if we know that it is achievable.

What does achievable mean? As Jim Skea made clear in your first evidence session on the bill, the IPCC has six layers with regard to how it considers feasibility, going from the geophysical issues, through the techno-economic issues to the socio-political issues. The really big question about whether something is achievable is whether there is enough political will to put it in place.

The feasibility conversation has moved on considerably; I have already alluded to that. However, I caution against giving it paramount status in the bill.

10:45  



Stewart Stevenson

Are we also talking about technical issues? Ten years ago, we thought that tidal energy was one of the big things, but nothing has happened in that area. However, in other areas of electricity generation, we have greatly surpassed the previous situation. Our ability to see the future is pretty limited, so is it important that we also look at technical possibilities?

Gina Hanrahan

Yes. We have to explore the innovation potential for Scotland. We have enormous research expertise here that we would like to see exploited towards a low-carbon transition. A lot of analysis by the CCC to date has centred on the technological feasibility; it has done extensive economic modelling and looked at what the models tell it at any given point in time. However, feasibility is an evolutionary concept, so we cannot capture it at one moment in time for all time. We need to find ways of ensuring that the new pathways that are coming are adequately legislated for. To paraphrase the cabinet secretary, “Show me the pathway and I will legislate for it.” Now, I think—

Stewart Stevenson

Forgive me but, like the convener, I am watching the clock and I know that Caroline Rance wants to come in.

Caroline Rance

You said that the ability to see the future is pretty limited, but the IPCC report very accurately painted a picture of the impacts that we will face if we do not do what is required. The question should be less about what achievable means and more about whether we should use that concept in our target-setting criteria rather than legislate for what is necessary.

Teresa Anderson

The IPCC scenarios looked at what was achievable, but they were not constrained by what was perceived to be politically achievable at the time, which can move very quickly once the politics change. The question of how we define “achievable” is a good one, but I would go with the IPCC model of what is necessary and showing the pathways that could be done if we set our minds to that.

Stewart Stevenson

I will skip the next bullet point, as most of it has been covered, and turn to another issue that has come up. Caroline Rance seemed to indicate that it might be worth considering, in some circumstances, changing targets. The bill moves towards expressing targets in percentages, but the 2009 act expressed targets in tonnes, so re-baselining blew the targets off arithmetically. Does the bill’s move to percentages remove the need to consider reducing targets, because re-baselining will no longer have the effects that it previously had?

Caroline Rance

The problem with the 2009 act was that some targets were expressed in percentage terms and some were expressed in megatonnes. Whenever we changed the baselines, the difference between the targets in megatonnes and the targets in percentages caused a problem.

However, I reiterate that I do not want to see targets coming back down; I always like to see them going up. There will be a mechanism for dealing with any big changes to the measurement science that would require a change to targets.

Gina Hanrahan

We support the move to percentages, but it is important that we still have a view to Scotland’s total emissions. That is where the CCC recommendations on a total, fair and safe cumulative budget continue to be important, and we need an update on that.

Angus MacDonald

We have not touched on carbon credits, but I am keen to hear whether the panel agrees with the Government’s approach to retaining an option to use carbon credits; and to hear its views on the circumstances in which that power might be used—for example, to achieve a net zero target.

Gina Hanrahan

Just to clarify, the bill reverses the position in the 2009 act, so that the default position that we could use credits becomes the default position that we will proactively have to seek to use credits. However, we will still be able to use credits for up to 20 per cent of the planned reduction in any given year.

There is a question over what it would be realistic to expect from carbon credits by 2050, when we will be living in an increasingly carbon-constrained world. Carbon credits will not be floating around extensively, and if they are available, it will be at an enormous price. It is right that we should seek to push forward as much as possible on domestic action, because carbon credits will not be around in the long term.

There is an interesting question about how flexibility works at a global level in a net zero world. We have scope for carbon storage, afforestation and other things that other countries might not have, but that is different from the carbon credits question.

Caroline Rance

When the bill that became the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 was going through Parliament, we argued against the inclusion of carbon credits. A compromise was proposed that involved imposing a limit on the use of credits, which Friends of the Earth Scotland was reasonably content with.

Jim Densham talked extensively about the great capacity that we have in Scotland for sequestration and for enhancing our carbon sinks. It is highly unlikely that Scotland will need to use credits at all, and the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform has said that the Scottish Government does not intend to use them. We are minded to agree that we will not need to use them.

Angus MacDonald

Gina Hanrahan mentioned the 20 per cent limit. I would be keen to hear the panel’s view on whether that is a suitable percentage.

Gina Hanrahan

We have not had a conversation about what the appropriate limit is. It is very hard to say what it should be. The principle is that we should exploit all possible domestic action first. It is critical that we do not think about credits in the short term. Credits are a conversation for the long term, at which point they will not be available, and if they are, they will be extraordinarily expensive.

The Convener

We move on to questions from Richard Lyle.

Richard Lyle (Uddingston and Bellshill) (SNP)

The bill seeks to rationalise the annual report that is produced under sections 33 and 34 of the 2009 act so that it contains only information that is directly related to the outcome of the emissions reduction target for the relevant year. Is the panel content with the new approach to annual reporting? What are the advantages and disadvantages of annual sectoral reporting on the climate change plan? Are you content with what is proposed?

Caroline Rance

We are certainly content with the change to the annual reporting. I am sure that the committee will be aware that the 2009 act laid down that the statutory report on annual targets had to be produced every October. However, because the reports have been ready in June, that is when we have ended up having the statement. Having the statement in June and again in October has meant that we have been duplicating content.

The bill legislates for the target result to be available in June and for the October statement to talk more about progress on the policies, which is definitely welcome. That means that, in June, we will be able to look at the big picture of how we are doing against the targets and, in October, we will be able to look at how we are progressing against the policies that we have said we will deliver in the climate change plan—the policies on transport, agriculture and energy efficiency. The new arrangement will allow for an additional level of scrutiny in all sectors and all departments so that we can see how the efforts are faring. We definitely welcome that.

The Convener

Would anyone else like to comment?

Richard Lyle

Everyone is content—that is good. It is nice to see that everyone agrees.

The committee previously recommended that there should be no limit on Parliament in considering the climate change plan. What is the panel’s view on having a 90-day limit for consideration of the climate change plan?

Jim Densham

The issue is one that some of us touched on in the technical discussions with the Government. The problem with the most recent climate change plan is that the amount of time for consideration of the plan was far too short for us and other organisations to get comments in, and for the committee to look at it and the Parliament to give its opinion. Various options for timescales were discussed, and I think that we were content with the proposed period.

Caroline Rance

There is a balance to be struck between allowing Parliament and stakeholders significant time to adequately scrutinise the plan, and ensuring that we drive the plan forward and get to the implementation stage. We need to be cognisant of the need to ensure that the process does not drift on open-endedly.

Gina Hanrahan

There is also an important point about the length of time between when the committees produced their final reports and when the Government published its final plan. That was a very long period in this context—I think that it took up to nine months from the initial parliamentary scrutiny to the publication of the final climate change plan. To be fair, very little changed; in fact, in some ways we went backwards from the initial plan in that nine-month period. We need to ensure that, during that period, there is an opportunity for constructive, substantive discussions on how to improve the plan.

John Scott

I want to go back to carbon credits. Gina Hanrahan may feel that she has already answered this question, but I just want some clarity. In correspondence, the Scottish Government said:

“The estimated cost of using credits to make up the gap between what is technically feasible domestically here in Scotland and a net-zero target in 2050 would be around £15 billion over the period to 2050.”

I am sure that you will know how that pathway is derived. Will you pass comment on that? Did you say essentially that no carbon would be bought or sold, so it would not be a cost?

Gina Hanrahan

My understanding of how that figure has been reached is that the Scottish Government took the trajectory from 2030 to 2050 and the gap between a 90 per cent target and a net zero target, and applied the current understanding of the current or future carbon credit price to that. That is an odd sum to do, if you like, because we know that we have not exhausted all domestic effort, so why would we invest £15 billion in carbon credits when we could be investing £15 billion to create a thriving low-carbon economy, with all the co-benefits that we have outlined. I think that that analysis is not particularly robust.

John Scott

No. You have made a very good point. Do others share that view?

Teresa Anderson

One of the reasons why I think that Gina Hanrahan is referring to the lack of availability of carbon credits in other countries is that the Paris agreement requires all countries to develop their own nationally determined contributions. Under the Kyoto protocol, countries such as Gabon would have sold their mitigation savings as a carbon credit, but those will now be part of their domestic action plans. Those could be funded by climate finance directly and not necessarily as carbon offsets, which would be excellent. Carbon credits will now be used up by countries, which is why they will not be freely available. Anything else that is available will not be the low-hanging fruit; it will be very high-cost rather than cost-efficient measures.

Caroline Rance

The answer to John Scott’s question is perhaps less to do with whether credits are available and more to do with what would be considered to be technically feasible. What we have not touched on is the fact that the CCC will come back in a few months’ time with new advice. The CCC will update its models, significantly update its advice and bring in the IPCC findings. It is pretty inconceivable that, after all that, the CCC will come back and say that nothing will change. We are pretty sure that it will come back with much stronger targets for 2030 and 2050; indeed, earlier this month, it advertised a vacancy for a net zero emissions analyst. You can take from that what you will.

The Convener

Sadly, we have run out of time. I apologise to anybody who wanted to come in with a supplementary question. If there is anything that our witnesses feel that they did not get a chance to say, they can contact the committee. I thank everyone for the evidence this morning—it has been very useful.

10:59 Meeting suspended.  



11:06 On resuming—  



The Convener

I am delighted to welcome our second panel of witnesses. Joining us are Dr Diana Casey, the senior advisor on energy and climate change at the Mineral Products Association; Professor Paul Jowitt of Heriot-Watt University; Elizabeth Leighton, a director of The Existing Homes Alliance Scotland; Fabrice Leveque, a senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables; and Will Webster, an energy policy manager at Oil and Gas UK. I welcome you all.

Those of you who were in the public gallery to watch the earlier part of the meeting will know that I asked the previous witnesses whether they thought that the bill complies with the Paris agreement and the more recent IPCC report. Would anyone like to answer that question? Do you have any views on whether it does or does not?

Elizabeth Leighton (Existing Homes Alliance Scotland)

Thank you for inviting me along. The Existing Homes Alliance Scotland is a coalition of housing and environmental industry fuel poverty bodies whose agenda is to improve our existing housing stock to achieve climate change and fuel poverty objectives.

The question was whether the bill meets the ambition of the Paris agreement. As you will guess, our focus is very much on energy efficiency and whether the bill provides the plans, direction and targets that will support achieving an ambitious overall climate change target for Scotland. We argue that it does not. We have argued for the bill to include measures that will progress action on the important topic of energy efficiency.

We believe that there is cross-party support in Parliament for more action on energy efficiency. We have put forward a strong energy-efficient Scotland programme, but it lacks statutory underpinning. We have therefore argued for a statutory framework for an energy-efficient Scotland to be included in the bill. That framework would include targets, would set up an oversight budget and would make sure that the budget was aligned with meeting those energy efficiency targets.

Fabrice Leveque (Scottish Renewables)

Thank you for inviting us along. Scottish Renewables is the industry association for renewable energy in Scotland. We represent about 250 members, which are primarily in the electricity and heat sectors and range from developers, installers and manufacturers to legal experts and professional services that provide renewable energy.

We understand the bill to be an interpretation of the Paris agreement, which increased climate change ambitions from aiming to meet a below-2°C target to aiming for a 1.5°C target. That sends a political signal to businesses and consumers about the future direction of travel, which is particularly crucial to an industry such as ours, which can provide solutions.

Ours is quite a highly regulated industry, and political risk must be managed, because it affects investment, the long-term supply chain decisions that we make and the long-term infrastructure that we build. For the signal to be effective and clear, we need to know what we are aiming for and when we need to achieve it by. Key to our understanding of the bill is knowing that there is a firm political commitment that can be translated into policy regarding when we need to reduce emissions by and the level we must reduce them to.

Professor Paul Jowitt (Heriot-Watt University)

I am probably a bit more of a generalist than most of this panel and the previous panel. My guess is that, in broad terms, the bill’s intention is to meet the Paris agreement, but I well understand why people from particular areas have particular misgivings about certain aspects of it. In a sense, then, my responses will come from a more generalist point of view.

It might be useful to tell you a bit about my background. I am an academic at Heriot-Watt University and, for 15 years, I ran the Scottish Institute of Sustainable Technology, which was originally a spin-out owned by the university and Scottish Enterprise and then a consultancy. I am a past president of the Institution of Civil Engineers, which makes John Scott one of my members, and I am on the committee for awarding the Saltire prize for marine energy, which was mentioned in connection with tidal energy being the hope of the future but something that has yet to fulfil its dream. My real interest is in systems analysis, looking at the big picture and the decision making around that, and my comments this morning will reflect that position.

The Convener

My next question is for Will Webster. I realise that a lot of asks have been made of the sector that you represent. What has been the buy-in to something that, on the surface, might lead to the demise of oil and gas as we know it?

Will Webster (Oil & Gas UK)

We represent around 400 members including not just exploration and production companies but a vast range of supply-chain businesses and infrastructure owners. They are following this discussion closely and are very much engaged in enabling the whole energy transition, either by providing services to alternative energy providers or through direct investment.

What we have seen from the first phase of energy transition is that rapid progress can be achieved if the targets are aligned and in step with the technological possibilities, consumer acceptability and what is going on in politics and society. That must be a key part of the next phase of target setting. I go back to the point about just transition that was made in the previous session, because there is a more positive story to tell in that respect about the success of the oil and gas sector, how it has contributed to offshore investment and how we can take advantage of the expertise involved, the investment that has been made historically and the hundreds of thousands of workers in the sector not just in Scotland but across the UK.

The Convener

I should say that I ask this question as a constituency MSP for Aberdeenshire. How are you preparing for that transition? How much are you preparing for what I would say is the inevitability of thousands of people who currently work in oil and gas having to move to other sectors as we try to tackle climate change?

Will Webster

We are looking at the issue in a couple of timeframes, the first of which is the timeframe to 2035, which was mentioned earlier. According to the forecast by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the UK will, at that point, still be using oil and gas to meet about three quarters of its energy needs.

Our projections up to that point are that production levels in the North Sea will always be below the UK’s consumption level, even given the fairly ambitious targets that are being set, so we are not competing with renewables investment and other sources of supply. We have developed a vision for the next stage of investment in the North Sea, which will run to about 2035, which adds an extra generation of production. We are not trying to maintain production at the current level of about 1.7 million barrels a day; we are trying to manage the decline in production to about 1.1 million barrels a day.

11:15  



After that, there are quite a few uncertainties about where different technologies will go, as your earlier witnesses said. We see the need for a flexible approach that can take account of how technology develops, how consumer acceptability develops and how society and political discussion move. That is why we appreciate the flexibility in the bill whereby the Government will be able to take account of advice and revise targets through an iterative approach to target setting.

The Convener

Should we prepare for a shift in the use of hydrocarbons, so that they are not used for heat and the electricity supply? If we are to continue taking oil out of the ground, should we be using it differently?

Will Webster

If we look at the carbon reductions that have been achieved so far, more or less all of which have been achieved in the electricity sector, we see that a lot of those reductions have come from increased use of gas—there has been a lot of switching from coal to gas, which has reduced emissions—and from the success of offshore renewables, in particular.

If we look forward, we see a crossroads in policy, particularly on heat and industrial processes. That is where we really need the next stage of development of CCS and a clear Government policy of developing commercial and regulatory frameworks with legislation around CCS, the use of decarbonised gas and the development of the hydrogen economy. Our members are actively investing in and carrying out research and development in all those things; they are ready to enable some of the transition, particularly into the use of decarbonised gas and hydrogen. That has to be an important part of the climate change plans that are developed on the back of the bill.

Mark Ruskell

On the face of it, the signs are not good for your sector globally. New Zealand is no longer issuing permits for offshore oil and gas exploration; countries around the world are banning the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030; Sweden’s ban on the use of fossil fuels in heating will come into force in the next two years; and the governor of the Bank of England is talking about “stranded” assets and warning markets not to invest in your sector. However, your written submission to the committee is quite bullish about the role of oil and gas in the future. What is your plan B? On the face of it, the sector looks finished.

Will Webster

We see a pretty good future for the sector over the next 10 to 15 years. The sector in the UK and globally really needs investment—

Mark Ruskell

What will happen after 15 years?

Will Webster

That takes us back to the discussion about a just transition that maintains reliable services for consumers. If we look at global forecasts—for example, those of the International Energy Agency—we find that, even in the IEA’s sustainable development scenario, a gap will emerge in the supply of oil and gas globally.

Scotland and the UK have become global leaders in climate policy by setting stretching but realistic targets and hitting them without damaging the consensus on the need to make progress in climate policy. Not every country has managed to do that. It is really important that targets are set in a flexible way that allows credible policies to be developed and brings about the investment that is needed in the conventional sector as well as the alternative sector, so that the transition will be something that consumers and the economy can take—albeit that it will be difficult. That is a really important feature of the climate policy that is needed.

Mark Ruskell

Do you accept that there will be an end point for oil and gas? When is that going to be?

Will Webster

Decarbonised gas has to be part of the long-term picture, as does even oil. Even if you take out all the passenger vehicles and light-duty vehicles, that is about 30 million tonnes of oil equivalent out of a current total demand of about 150 million tonnes for oil and gas. There are a lot of other uses for oil and gas in sectors that are difficult to decarbonise—industry, heavy goods transport, marine transport and aviation. Those things will all need to be serviced over the next decades from oil and gas.

Finlay Carson

The bill only amends reduction targets and reporting duties. The consultation is therefore focused on the strategic ambition, not on delivery mechanisms. Should increased target setting be considered without considering what will be realistically required to meet the targets?

Dr Diana Casey (Mineral Products Association)

Our main issue is to do with the delivery rather than the targets themselves. The industries that I represent are energy intensive and the key issue is competitiveness. The question is how the burden of meeting those targets is shared across different sectors of the economy. Our sectors, along with the power sector, have taken considerable action already. When you stretch the targets, you need to consider how you will meet them. The focus has to change from those sectors that have already done a lot to other sectors that are harder to decarbonise.

I am not saying that our sectors should not carry on decarbonising—we have road maps showing how we can get there. However, we have to protect our competitiveness, because the materials that we supply are vital to other sectors decarbonising, to the transition to a low-carbon economy and to climate change adaptation. Our key concern is how the burden will be shared and that is to do with delivery rather than the targets themselves.

Elizabeth Leighton

We have argued that the inclusion of energy efficiency measures and targets relating to energy efficiency would be in scope because that is part of plans to support the transition. That would build on the 2009 act, which included a significant section on energy efficiency policy. The new bill is framed around setting emissions reduction targets, so we believe that including energy efficiency measures is compatible with the principles of the bill.

That aside, in terms of the mechanics, you have already heard that targets are essential in order to drive innovation and provide certainty for business. Evidence has been provided during this stage 1 scrutiny that we risk losing all the economic benefits—the jobs benefits and the benefits to the wider economy—if we do not provide certainty so that businesses and home owners invest. Having that clear pathway set in statute will give them more confidence to go ahead and invest. We can then win those jobs benefits rather than seeing them gradually leaking to other parts of the UK or even Europe because our supply chain has not developed.

It is critical that we have the targets and that we have the statutory underpinning. The UKCCC progress report highlights the energy efficient Scotland programme as an exemplar for other sectors and it specifically mentions that there is a “statutory underpinning” to the commitments. I would argue that there is not a statutory underpinning unless something is included in the bill.

I should add that we are aware that the Government has indicated that there is potential for consideration of an energy efficient Scotland bill at some point in the future. However, failing any firm commitment to that bill or details on what it might contain, I fear that we would be failing the chance to meet the climate change targets if energy efficiency targets were not included in the bill. We need to take advantage of the opportunity at hand and avoid further delays. The timing fits quite well with the implementation of the energy efficient Scotland programme, which will go into the implementation phase from 2020.

Fabrice Leveque

When it comes to near-term delivery, if the question is whether there are areas of current climate policy in Scotland that could be improved, the answer is yes—there are areas of planning policy and heat policy that could be improved. A bill is always an opportunity to do that.

On whether the target works as a long-term signal, as I said, it is about setting the problem and allowing us to work out the solution. At the moment, the way the target is phrased is kind of saying, “We will endeavour to get to net zero—that is roughly the ambition.” Our industry can point to those words, but that is very different from a firm target with a number and a date. In terms of policy risk, for a business that is looking at the bill, if there is a line in it that says what we are roughly aiming towards, that is very different from having clear targets with dates and numbers attached. A firmer target gives feedback into greater clarity and certainty.

We have touched a little on the point about technical feasibility and whether we should set a target now given the uncertainty around driving the last few emissions out of the system. I have a point on long-term targets and near-term ones. Near-term targets such as the 2020 renewables targets have to be achievable, because we have to think that we can get to them and they have to instil confidence. Long-term targets such as the 2050 target, which is more than 30 years away, are more about saying, “Here is where we would like to be.” It is about setting a challenge and allowing us to work out solutions. To clarify, with the near term, we absolutely have to be grounded in what is feasible. In the longer term, given the scale of what we are talking about, we have to consider the time that there is to work out the solutions.

Will Webster

Credible ambitious targets are good in that they provide credibility to investors and allow them to modify their strategies and think about what sort of businesses they want to be in future. The same goes for households to an extent. Ambitious targets that are based on evidence of what is achievable and what can be delivered in terms of consumer acceptability have a positive essence in that they give policy makers cover for giving strong positive incentives to investors to deliver the investment that is needed. To an extent, that has been the experience of the first phase of decarbonisation. The initial set of targets allowed positive policies to be developed that brought about a significant amount of investment in technologies from the private sector. There is a lesson to be learned from that for the next phase.

Professor Jowitt

Setting long-term targets does not mean that you can leave them and not do anything about them—you have to start to deal with them now. So far, some of the big hits in carbon reduction in Scotland and the UK and in the developed world generally have been made by exporting our carbon emissions to developing countries and reimporting goods. That has been a quick win for us in some ways. However, the longer-term targets will involve a degree of behaviour change, which is much more difficult to do and needs to be started now.

In the decision-making world of politics, in setting long-term targets, you quickly get involved in discounted cash flow and discounting. Of course, the reality of discounting is that, by definition, it discounts the future—that is what it says on the tin. To deal with that, we need to start making investments now to get the long-term benefits that we need.

To be honest, large-scale complex problems are not easily dealt with by cost benefit analysis. During a talk that I once gave in Australia on climate change and international development, I asked the audience—admittedly, it was mainly engineers—given that the two most important decisions that we make in life are on our house and our partner, who among them had ever made either of those decisions using that method. One person put their hand up. I have to say that it was a man, although I did not ask whether the decision was on the wife or the house.

Clearly, large-scale problems need a more mature decision-making mechanism than some of the instruments commonly used in government and by treasuries. The world is at a critical point and we need to start making long-term decisions and take actions now, or it will be too late.

11:30  



Finlay Carson

In your first answer, you suggested that you had misgivings and talked about “credible targets”. Is there a risk that, if we do not have credible targets, we will not get the investors that we so desperately need following the process?

Professor Jowitt

Yes. We need to start making real decisions that will have a real impact, not wiffle-waffle ones.

Will Webster

To underline the point, credible targets allow policy makers to develop credible policies. The targets feed through into the climate change plans and policies. Making climate policies is not an easy task. There needs to be an appropriate framework for Governments to do it, and that comes from having targets that are in tune with what is going on and what we think will be going on in the next 20 years.

Mark Ruskell

We heard some useful and interesting evidence at the beginning of our scrutiny of the bill from Swedish witnesses. They discussed how the Swedish Government working with industry put in place sector action plans, particularly for the steel and cement sectors. Where do you see the UK in terms of that sectoral approach? Have we put enough focus on transformative technologies and linking those to where the sectors see themselves in global markets and how they position their products and services?

Professor Jowitt

Probably not, but we need to be careful that we do not lull everyone into the idea that technology will fix it. We need to change what we do as individuals, rather than just hope that technology is going to come in with a magic bullet and solve the issue for us. I will come back to that point later, if the committee would like.

Dr Casey

We have an action plan for the UK cement sector that the sector produced with the UK Government, on the back of the road map that was published in 2015. The action plan is not exactly what we thought it was going to be. The road map showed what reductions could be made, the barriers and the main technologies, and we hoped that the action plan would put in place what we need to get there. It does not go quite that far, but it is the start of a conversation with the Government. We have valued that.

We know the three technologies that will decarbonise the cement sector. One is CCUS—carbon capture, utilisation and storage—which is the breakthrough technology. The sector itself has done a lot of research. A lot of the projects are in Europe rather than the UK, but the MPA and the majority of our members are involved. A couple are at the point where funding is required for demonstration projects. We are not expecting everyone to do the work for us, but we need support. I think that about €90 million is needed for the two demonstration projects. At the moment, those are on hold until we have the EU emissions trading system phase 4 innovation fund. Industry has committed a considerable amount, but there is still work to be done.

Mark Ruskell

Are you concerned about the possible hiatus with the ETS after Brexit and about whether we will see the same level of funds going into the innovation fund if we end up with a carbon tax for a year, or a return to an ETS but under a different guise?

Dr Casey

Yes, definitely. I do not want to say that we are pinning our hopes on the innovation fund, but it should be a good source of support for those kinds of projects. Brexit introduces a huge amount of uncertainty.

We are worried about the carbon tax for other reasons. As a sector, we would like emissions reduction at lowest cost. The carbon tax that the chancellor announced at £16 per tonne of CO2 would render us uncompetitive. In a no-deal Brexit, the chances are that the carbon price would crash. We would then be paying far higher than our competitors in Europe. That leads on to the carbon leakage that Professor Jowitt mentioned, which is a real concern.

Mark Ruskell

So we are not at the limit of technical feasibility with your sector.

Dr Casey

The technology definitely exists, but there is work to be done to get it to commercial deployment.

Professor Jowitt

The advances in cement production have been quite remarkable, but in construction we have to distinguish between capital expenditure carbon and operating expenditure carbon. Opex carbon—that is, the energy efficiency in use—will dominate the carbon budget of any construction project. A bridge can be built with very little carbon, but the traffic usage over it will be the killer and the method of cement production does not have an impact on that.

A carbon tax and carbon trading were referred to. I would be very worried if anybody pinned the future of the planet on the market and hoped that it would come to save them. It will not. If the carbon price dropped by 20 per cent on Monday, would that mean that the value of the planet had somehow fallen by 20 per cent? Of course it would not. We need to be very careful about the extent to which we rely on the market to fix the CO2 problem.

Rhoda Grant

I think that we all agree that we need transformational change to meet the targets, but sometimes such change leaves people behind. How can we have transformational change in a fair and just manner? We have heard before about the move to electric vehicles, which is fine if people can afford them, and about people ensuring that their houses are insulated and have all the latest renewables. People who can afford that do that and end up saving money, so it is a win-win for them, but people who do not have the money cannot do it, so they miss out twice. They are penalised by taxation to discourage the use of energy, for example.

Elizabeth Leighton

I am pleased that you have asked that question, because a just transition has to be fair for users of energy as well. Ensuring that a low-carbon transition does not lead to unaffordable energy when we are trying to tackle fuel poverty is a real issue. There is a big commitment coming from the Government in that way. With energy efficiency, we have a chance to redress the balance between rural and urban and to invest in properties that have been neglected in many of the programmes that there have been to date. We have the chance to say that there will be greater investment so that those properties will be among the first places to benefit from the transition to low carbon through investment in moving from very expensive oil heat to some kind of renewable heat and very energy-efficient properties.

That is an example of where people will benefit from the low-regrets options that are now available, which should be taken forward as part of the fuel poverty programme for those who cannot afford them. They should be part of the warmer homes Scotland scheme and the investment to meet the fuel poverty targets that are set out in the energy efficient Scotland programme. That emphasises the benefits of energy efficiency, which is quite mature in Scotland. There has been a lot of investment in energy efficiency to date, and we should build on that track record and put the targets into statute through the bill.

Rhoda Grant

Is there enough for the people in the middle? I am thinking about draughty old croft houses in my constituency. We all hear about the croft houses in picturesque places that are going for huge amounts of money, but many croft houses have very little value. They do not have a value that would allow people to invest and borrow against them to really make a change to their insulation. Is enough available for those people who are earning but might not be on high incomes and who might need to clad their houses totally to make them efficient? Is enough available on the spectrum of assistance to help them?

Elizabeth Leighton

That is one reason why we have argued that the budget needs to be aligned with meeting the targets that are set out in the energy efficient Scotland programme. The work has not been done to see whether there is enough in the programme, estimating what would come from the public sector and what would be levered in from the private sector and householders. Is that a realistic balance? What financial incentives, loan schemes and so on are being used to achieve that balance? Perhaps that modelling has been done—I have not seen it published—to give us and the home owner market confidence that it will be able to achieve the vision that it should be able to achieve as part of the just transition to low-carbon, warm and affordable-to-heat homes all over Scotland.

Will Webster

Just transition is an important concept and an important part of successful transition. It means making the most of the expertise that we have in the traditional energy sectors, including the several hundred thousand jobs that there are in oil and gas. That expertise is a resource that we need to make the most of in the energy transition. All our offshore expertise can and is being used in the alternative sectors, and it has to be an important part of the energy transition that is put in place in Scotland and the UK.

A just transition is also one that avoids a dislocation of the energy system. That is important for consumers. We are now approaching the winter and you will remember that, last year, we had to import a lot of liquefied natural gas, particularly during the latter stages of the winter. That comes at huge cost because you are paying Japanese LNG prices of £1 a therm or £1.50 a therm whereas the usual price is around 50p a therm. You pay three times the price if you end up with a dislocation of your supplies as a result of an energy transition that is not considered and in line with what is credible and good for consumers.

Richard Lyle

I have two comments. First, we are not storing enough gas. There are two gasometers on the M8 just outside Glasgow that have not been used for years.

On loft insulation, the boiler scrappage scheme and all the other different programmes, I was a councillor for 30 years and I have seen more of those programmes in the past 10 years in my local area of North Lanarkshire. There is a tremendous number of heat-saving schemes. I am sure that you know about Myton houses, which were built in the 50s and have cement on the outside. In an area of Motherwell, which is not in my constituency, a section of Myton houses is being encapsulated in foam and then roughcast.

There is a tremendous number of programmes but, in my experience, housing associations are sometimes not tapping into them. Thank you.

The Convener

Do you have a question?

Richard Lyle

No, I just wanted to make those comments.

Fabrice Leveque

On the point about just transition, the offshore wind sector is working with the oil and gas sector to look at the ambitions of both sectors for 2030 and beyond. For the offshore wind sector, that is about securing skills and making sure that we have the jobs and expertise to deliver the increasing ambitions of the sector now that costs have reduced significantly. It is also about working with the oil and gas sector to make sure that there are opportunities. One issue that that sector is trying to deal with is the fact that it has an aging workforce. The two sectors can work well together and we are starting to do that. Things are starting to come together already.

Angus MacDonald

I have some questions on the Scottish Government consultation on the bill, which took place during the summer before last. You heard me ask the previous panel about the consultation. I am keen to hear your views on whether the results of the consultation are adequately reflected in the bill. Should there have been proper consultation on a net zero target and so on, including the delivery of the target and the establishment of a just transition commission, which we have just discussed?

11:45  



The Convener

Would anyone like to go first? Are there no comments?

Angus MacDonald

Perhaps there are comments on the just transition commission, as I imagine that the witnesses would say that that should have been consulted on.

Will Webster

It could help to have a reporting body that can make a judgment on certain matters. Our view is that the processes that are set out in the bill are quite useful because they will allow an iterative discussion to take place on setting a net zero target and revising the targets, with advice from suitable parties.

Elizabeth Leighton

Given our organisation’s focus, in our response we did not comment specifically on the overall target. However, we have started to have dialogue with the just transition commission about fuel poverty and affordable energy. The commission is therefore aware that those issues are on its agenda.

John Scott

I have a supplementary question on the Scottish Government’s consultation. Are the results of the consultation adequately or properly reflected in the bill? Would you rather see the bill take a different shape?

Elizabeth Leighton

As I said, we thought that there should be more about plans—and, I would add, policy programmes—that support the achievement of the targets. We have argued specifically for measures on energy efficiency targets to underpin the energy efficient Scotland programme. We put that in our consultation response, and I am aware that others did so too. I do not think that the bill reflects those consultation responses.

Fabrice Leveque

I cannot give an answer on the detailed specifics but, as I said earlier, our view is that an opportunity to set a specific date was missed. That is our key takeaway from the bill.

Dr Casey

It is commendable that Scotland is setting ambitious targets, but our concerns are about going above and beyond what the rest of the UK and the rest of the world are doing. That takes me back to my earlier point about competitiveness. In some ways, we were hoping that we would stay aligned with the UK, but it is commendable that Scotland is setting those stretching targets.

The Convener

Talking of targets, we move to questions from Claudia Beamish.

Claudia Beamish

I have a quick supplementary question for Will Webster and Fabrice Leveque on the decarbonisation of heat. Will Webster highlighted the need for fossil fuel to be imported for that, if I understood him rightly. I would like both your takes on whether there is a choice and whether there could be a transition to other forms of heat. I fully respect the importance of fuel poverty as an issue, of course.

Will Webster

A lot is going on in that area. The gas distribution companies, including Scottish Gas Networks, Cadent and Northern Gas Networks, are running several projects to look at the feasibility of reforming natural gas—methane—into hydrogen and capturing the CO2 by applying known technologies that can, to a degree, be bought off the shelf. For example, there was an initial study on converting the whole of Leeds to hydrogen heating. A report by Northern Gas Networks into whether that could be extended to the whole north of England is coming out on Friday.

The committee might well know of similar initiatives, such as the Pale Blue Dot Energy project in the Aberdeen area, and the Cadent project, which is about converting six or seven industrial users to hydrogen in the Liverpool and Manchester areas. All those projects are at the feasibility stage, and they will be part of the gas distribution networks’ thinking on the future supply of gas. There is also a CO2 capture and storage element to such projects.

To a certain extent, all those technologies exist—there are things that are being, and can be, done. The work is around how we put the technologies together to make hydrogen a part of domestic heating and industrial use.

The Convener

What is stopping us doing that?

Will Webster

That is a good question. It is not just a question of finance. However, financial support is important for the demonstration stages of such technologies and for developing a commercial framework that can reproduce, to an extent, the success that we have had with offshore wind, for example.

The other aspect that needs to be thought about is the legislative framework. If we want to roll out something at scale and to have people invest in it, they need to have an idea of the parameters in which we will be operating. Energy suppliers across the board are pretty highly regulated, so if a supplier is looking at a new product—a new source of energy—they will already be thinking about how they will be regulated in that world. That issue is not particularly present in the discussion.

We need to think about the commercial framework and the regulatory framework. We hope that Governments will address those matters in response to the initiatives that I have mentioned.

Fabrice Leveque

The Scottish Government’s energy strategy sets out two extremely different scenarios for the energy system. One scenario primarily involves electrification and using electricity, with either ground-source or air-source heat pumps being used in buildings. The other scenario involves hydrogen, which, primarily, would be produced from natural gas, with the carbon sequestered. Those are the two options. Under the electrification scenario, there would be much less fossil-fuel use, although I do not think that it would be entirely ruled out. The primary energy supply would come from electricity.

Clearly, those are two extreme examples. On which scenario is better, our view is that the answer probably lies somewhere in the middle. We have some concerns regarding hydrogen. As we have heard, there is an awful lot of additional work to be done in putting the various bits together, demonstrating the full chain and rolling it out—it is quite a big infrastructure project. Our concern is that we do not want that work to distract from building on the technologies that we have today.

For example, there is arguably still quite a lot that could be done with heat pumps to help to grow the market as we have grown the wind turbines market. We have provided confidence by saying that we will do it at volume, which has allowed supply chains to grow and get cheaper.

We have not done that with electric heat; we are only beginning that work. Things are getting much better, because the grid has decarbonised. Five years ago, a heat pump produced roughly the same emissions as those from a gas boiler. Today, thanks to the rapid decarbonisation of the electricity grid, a heat pump produces something like 25 to 30 per cent of the emissions from a gas boiler. Therefore, such pumps have become a true source of low-carbon heat. We still need to do more to help the sector by rolling out the technology and working out some of the issues.

The same goes for district heat networks, which is another technology that we could roll out in the near term. The networks are large pipes in the ground through which we pipe to buildings the heat that is generated in power stations. They could take large-scale heat pumps, perhaps by drawing on energy from rivers or the air. Again, that is a technology that is tried and trusted, and we do not want the focus on longer-term infrastructure, such as that for hydrogen, to detract from the nearer-term technologies that we can use.

Dr Casey

Decarbonisation of heat is also relevant to industry. Biomass has not been mentioned yet, and the cement sector has done quite a lot of fuel switching to biomass. The Government provides incentives for the biomass to go elsewhere—to smaller domestic users through the renewable heat incentive or to larger power generators through the renewables obligation, for example—but one of the things that is stopping us converting is that we unfortunately fall right down the middle and do not get any incentives. The concern is that, instead of increasing the use of biomass and reducing emissions overall, we are just diverting it.

I have another point to make about hydrogen and the barriers to its use. As other members of the panel have said, more work is needed. Whatever fuel is used in the cement sector can have an impact on the quality of the product—that is one potential barrier. There are also safety risks with the use of hydrogen that require careful assessment.

Claudia Beamish

Diana Casey has highlighted competitiveness and the challenges that that brings, which we are all aware of. There is also the question of innovation and the fact that we do not know what will happen in the 2030s and 2040s.

The bill proposes a 90 per cent target, but should it set a net zero target for all greenhouse gas emissions? What are the options? I am looking for some short comments on that.

Will Webster

The bill sets a target of a 90 per cent reduction. Building on what Fabrice Leveque said, we need to think about and develop all the technologies if we are to succeed in achieving that objective. It will be a case of horses for courses. We need to remember that we start from a position in which 80 per cent of homes in the UK—the proportion in Scotland is probably similar—have a gas boiler. To an extent, we must work with what we have got. We will need to have CCS to achieve an 80 or 90 per cent target. All the international papers on the subject show that CCS is a necessary part of the mix if we are to achieve that level of greenhouse gas reductions.

As far as a net zero target is concerned, we understand the process that is set out in the bill, which we think is quite a sensible one, in that it involves a set of criteria, a process for getting advice from an independent party and a democratic decision-making process. Having such a framework seems to be a sensible approach, rather than including in the bill a date by which net zero emissions will be achieved.

Elizabeth Leighton

As I said, we have not commented on the overall target, but we are firmly supportive of the target in the energy efficient Scotland programme of having near zero carbon building stock by 2050. In fact, we have said that that should be brought forward for the domestic stock, because we are further ahead on that than we are on the non-domestic stock. It would therefore be reasonable to expect action to be taken more quickly on the domestic stock.

We should remind ourselves that the IPCC special report emphasises the need for urgent action over the next decade. We need to innovate and to look at longer-term solutions. At the same time, we cannot delay in doing what we can do now with the tried-and-tested technologies and the very-near-term technologies. We know that cost-effective energy efficiency measures can reduce our energy demand—this is a UK figure—by 25 per cent. Over the next 20 years, that is equivalent to the annual output of six nuclear power stations.

There is a lot that can be done now, which is why there is a need to drive action through statutory targets and to put more emphasis on things such as making the jump from F-rated property to net zero carbon property. Through schemes such as the Dutch Energiesprong scheme, that can be done on a street-by-street basis, with little disruption, using off-site construction, and it can be paid for using the fuel savings. The solutions are at hand; we simply need to up the scale. The area-based schemes have been a big success, but they are not going fast enough or are not taking multiple measures—some schemes deal only with insulation, for example. The fuel poverty programme is a really good programme, but it is tackling only 4,000 homes a year. That must be multiplied many times.

12:00  



The Convener

Stewart Stevenson wants to ask a quick question.

Stewart Stevenson

My question is specifically for Elizabeth Leighton. Should we revisit the EPC definitions? Under the current definitions, my house cannot get to zero, because we have two-foot-thick walls with no place to put cavity wall insulation. You get 10 points for having such insulation, but the fact is that we are better insulated than we would be with it. However, even though we are doing better in practice, the EPC definitions prevent us from getting an A rating.

There are similar difficulties with the other ways in which the system works. For example, it does not actually measure a house’s outputs and inputs; instead, it uses surrogates to make estimates that are in some cases imperfect.

Elizabeth Leighton

The EPC, which uses an A to G scale, is a useful metric because it is simple. People understand it and it is used for appliances, cars and so on. However, I agree that its underpinning methodology needs to be updated, and that it should keep up with new technologies and new knowledge of traditional buildings. A working group that is hosted by the Government is looking at the matter; I hope that it will address such issues. Obviously, not every house can get an A rating, but we should be striving to get as close to that as we can.

Fabrice Leveque

I come back to Claudia Beamish’s question about the 90 per cent and net zero targets. To Scottish Renewables the science is very clear: the ambition is to get to net zero emissions by mid-century. I point out that, 30 years ago, the European wind industry was building its first turbines to demonstrate the concept of wind energy; 30 years later, we are providing something like 25 per cent of the UK’s electricity, and we could be providing 50 to 60 per cent by 2030. We have come on in leaps and bounds in 30 years.

However, there are sectors that will be affected by the target that have not yet really felt the pull of the policy change on what they need to do. The message is that in those sectors another five or 10 years might elapse before they start to work towards the target.

The Convener

Should the bill clearly define pathways for sectors?

Fabrice Leveque

The bill needs to contain some near-term measures, because some actions need to be strengthened with regard to what we are doing today. I do not think that the bill needs to set out a technological pathway all the way to 2050; that timescale is very long term, and the point of the target should be to allow technical challenges to be recognised and to let industry innovate and work out what it needs to do in order to deliver the target.

The Convener

Is the message getting across strongly enough about the economic benefits and business incentives that are out there, and about the fact that there will be some real wins for industry if investment is made in innovation?

Fabrice Leveque

Clearly that message has come across strongly enough in the renewables electricity sector, given the benefits that we are reaping from years of investment. However, action takes a long time to happen in the transport and heat sectors, in which the conversation is just starting. The fact is that support for the technologies, particularly in the heat sector, has ebbed and flowed over the years, so it has been difficult to make the case that could be made for offshore wind and to say, “Give us 10GW of volume and we’ll deliver a turbine facility and investment in ports across the east coast.” The heat sector has not been able to do that, because of uncertainty about political ambition in that regard.

You are therefore right to suggest that the potential benefits have not been advertised enough, but there are large benefits to be had. We just need to have the confidence to go after them.

The Convener

So, has a lack of consistency in Government policy made everyone nervous?

Fabrice Leveque

Yes.

Will Webster

That is what we are looking for in the Government response to the CCS cost-reduction task force report, which emphasised the regional nature of the industrial clusters in which CCS can be made to work, and the knock-on industrial policy benefit from developing those poles of activity in co-ordination with what already exists for the oil and gas and renewables sectors. We have a chance to build on that for a new energy sector, so we are looking for the Scottish Government and UK Government to respond positively to the report.

The Convener

Other countries are doing things, but—of course—there are two Governments in charge of policy.

Will Webster

Indeed.

The Convener

Are you saying that it is not enough for just the Scottish Government to set targets and to take a consistent approach, but that the message needs to go to the UK Government, too?

Will Webster

That is right.

John Scott

You spoke about hydrogen earlier, but not in relation to the transport sector. I appreciate that it is not necessarily a sector that you would be expert in, but is the future for transport electric or is it hydrogen?

Will Webster

The jury is still out; it depends on the nature of the transport. For personal and commercial vehicles, especially ones that return to base a lot—even public transport—electricity seems to be fairly promising. We start with the assumption that the electricity future for transport is already real and can only get bigger. Hydrogen is being used for trains and buses in Aberdeen, for example, and there is the potential to use it for personal passenger vehicles.

We start from the idea that we will not necessarily get to a point at which one will dominate the other: what will happen will depend on the circumstances and what consumers choose. Consumers do not always choose the best technology—they choose what they find to be most convenient or what looks nicest. That is not quite the right way of putting it, but there is a sense that we cannot, as though we were an all-powerful entity, say that everyone will chose this or that.

There are several technologies around. People can go on several types of journey—that applies to transporting goods, as well. It depends on the circumstances. Hydrogen has most potential for large-scale, long-distance transport, including heavy goods vehicles and shipping, which currently use a lot of gas and will continue to do so for a number of years.

Richard Lyle

Would we be able to produce enough hydrogen? I saw last week that Shell was all over Twitter, promoting hydrogen for cars. In the last 50, 60 or 100 years we have changed and used many different types of energy. Is not that the case?

Will Webster

That is absolutely true. When cities were still using town gas, it was made from 50 or 60 per cent hydrogen. Use of hydrogen is therefore possible: the technology is out there. Governments should look closely at it and think about what needs to be done in respect of the commercial and regulatory framework.

Mark Ruskell

I will ask about the interim targets, in particular the 2030 target. The IPCC has refocused us on the importance of taking action in the next decade. Do you think that the 2030 target is sufficiently challenging?

Fabrice Leveque

Can you clarify whether you mean the target that we have today or the one that is proposed by the bill?

Mark Ruskell

I mean the target that is proposed in the bill.

Fabrice Leveque

I cannot comment on whether the target is sufficiently challenging in terms of the climate science, but I think that it is achievable. For the 2030 target it is a question of costs, rather than technical feasibility: we could hit other targets, but the questions are: at what cost, and how would the costs be distributed? In the energy system—electricity and heat—we have the technologies to do it, but we need political backing and a programme that will bring costs down properly.

Mark Ruskell

I will come back to heat. I had heard that we are still installing oil-fired boilers as part of fuel poverty schemes in Scotland, which seems to be odd. Are our policies sufficiently joined up? That seems to be extremely low-hanging fruit in terms of making progress. Are there other areas, particularly around heat, in which we could be accelerating progress in the near term? You talked about the long-term picture and whether we will electrify heat or use alternatives to natural gas, but what actions could we take in the next few years that might get us back on track for a higher 2030 target?

Fabrice Leveque

In respect of the near term, the point that Mark Ruskell made about oil-fired boilers is important. The fact that that is happening demonstrates that there is not quite a proper read-across from the climate targets through all the different parts of Scottish Government policy. Arguably, if we are paying to replace heating systems, we should be fitting something that is future proof—a heat pump or a biomass boiler, for example.

The problem that Mark Ruskell highlights is also the case in the new-build sector. The Scottish Government has powers to set standards for new buildings, but the majority of new buildings currently have fossil-fuel heating systems, some of which are oil systems. The review is currently on-going, which gives us an ideal opportunity to ensure that we are installing low-carbon heating systems in new buildings.

New build is the cheapest place to do that, and it allows the supply chain to do more, which is what we really need to ensure is happening if we want to keep costs down. We have a fragmented and relatively small heat supply chain. With a larger market—which would be created by ensuring that all new buildings have low-carbon heating systems—the supply chain companies could reduce their overheads, improve co-installers’ confidence and knowledge, and expand the distribution and supply chains so that they can serve all of Scotland with the relevant skills. Right now, some areas have to pay a premium because installers have to travel from quite far away.

The Convener

Do we have a skills shortage in relation to installation of future-proofed systems?

Fabrice Leveque

That is not the case at all. With regard to people who supply low-carbon heat systems in domestic buildings, the supply chain has shrunk over the past three or four years in Scotland as the market has dipped. That has happened partly because incentives have been cut, which has created a public perception that it is not really worth doing any more. Further, the oil price in rural areas has dropped, and the high oil price was one of the things that drove a lot of people in rural areas to consider alternative heating systems. There is probably quite a bit of slack in the supply chain.

Of course, if we were really ambitious and go more quickly, we would have to make sure that we had the right skills and training in place. We can do that in Scotland. It is not beyond us to ensure that we have a planned approach and that people have the skills that they need.

Elizabeth Leighton

I agree that there needs to be a bit more joining up, because we are still connecting people to the gas grid—we are extending the gas grid. Most people would assume that there will just be a switch over to hydrogen at some point, so they do not have to worry about anything. However, if that is a solution—there are many questions about whether it is—it is a distant prospect, so we must do all that we can now with regard to low-hanging and middle-hanging fruit in energy-efficiency schemes and low-carbon heat. We have to join the two approaches together. Area-based schemes can no longer be just about solid-wall insulation; they also have to involve ways of addressing the heat issue.

Will Webster

I think that we should be a bit careful about talking about things that are either long-term or distant. As Fabrice Leveque said, over the past 30 years, the wind sector has gone from a low base to where we are now, with 12MW turbines being built. Ever such a lot can be done in a 20 or 30-year period. Hydrogen technology exists and is out there; it is not so experimental. To an extent, progress in that area is about overcoming the chicken-and-egg issues that exist with any big change from one system to another system.

The issue about fuel poverty schemes comes down to the circumstances of the individual case. Not all homes are suitable for heat pumps, for example, and some are not connected to the system. It is not an area in which we have a lot of expertise. The specificity of individual cases must be taken into account.

12:15  



Dr Casey

We have talked a lot about decarbonising heat itself. Our concern is about Scottish Government policies on the fabric of buildings. We have evidence that heavyweight building materials can save a lot of carbon. On the reporting side, we feel that a lot of carbon savings can be made from looking at cement and concrete over their whole life. Concrete absorbs CO2 and stores it during its life, but that is not measured or reported on. If we are looking for a net zero emissions target, we need to be sure that we include all possible carbon sinks. We are coming up with a methodology to measure that so that it can be included in reporting.

Heavyweight materials also provide thermal mass, which keeps the temperature of buildings stable, so their occupants are less likely to turn up the thermostat. Whatever people’s heating choices—oil, electric or whatever—they use less of it, which goes back to the energy efficiency points that have been made.

We are concerned about the near-term targets. If we strongly promote use of timber in construction, we will lose out on the benefits that I have just described. In the long term, the operational carbon of a building could end up being worse.

John Scott

You have brought us nicely to my question. What scenarios might require changes to the interim targets that have just been described? Might other scenarios require changes to the interim targets before 2030, for example? What are the practical implications of getting to those interim targets?

The witnesses do not seem to have any answers to those questions, which is absolutely fine.

Should the ability to modify the targets in both directions be included in the bill? We are asking all the panels that question.

Professor Jowitt

Common sense would say yes.

John Scott

That is all the answer that we are looking for.

Will Webster

If the bill sets out a good governance process for that, it will be quite valuable in policy making.

Finlay Carson

Section 5 sets out the target-setting criteria, including scientific knowledge, technology, energy policy and so on. Are the target-setting criteria fit for purpose and appropriate? Should they align more closely with the climate change plan’s sectoral approach?

Dr Casey

Our response sets out five criteria that need to be included. They cover whether we have the cost-effective technology to meet the targets; economic circumstances and the competitiveness thing that I have been going on about; policy; fuel availability and whether there is enough biomass to go around the decarbonised sectors that need biomass; and interaction with industrial strategy and clean growth. Those are the five criteria that we would like to be included in the bill.

Elizabeth Leighton

I think that our consultation response said that the criteria should make sure that we take into account the social benefits. We have talked a lot about economic benefits and impacts, but widespread social, health and wellbeing benefits are associated with the transition to low carbon. They are well documented in the case of energy efficiency and housing. That criterion should be taken into account in target setting.

Will Webster

I generally think that the targets make a lot of sense and go back to some of the points that we made earlier about a just transition and so on. I will not repeat those points.

It is good to have a holistic set of criteria that policy makers can use to make a sensible judgment about all the various aspects and implications of adopting a target.

Fabrice Leveque

I am not familiar with the target-setting criteria, but I guess that there is a fairly strict definition of technical credibility and the ability to show a pathway. I go back to my previous point that, for our members and our industry, the long-term target, which is 30-plus years away, is a political signal that tells us where we need to be. We do not expect the Government to draw a line and tell us exactly what the solutions will be—that is mostly for our industries to do. It is possible that the technical criteria and eligibility have been set very strictly and that that is why we have come to the current proposal, which is a process to set a date in the future but not now.

John Scott

Let me develop that theme. I know that the aviation sector is driven by the criteria and regulations that are set for it. It seems to have the ability to develop more and more clever and fuel-efficient engines. Are you saying the same of your sectors? Mr Webster rather hinted that the hydrogen sector needs regulations and criteria to be put in place to allow people to develop the innovation that is definitely out there. Is that correct?

Will Webster

Yes. That is not necessarily part of the technical criteria for choosing an emissions target, but we need a suitably ambitious target that is achievable and that is backed up with the appropriate legislation to allow innovative technologies to come in. That can be about the commercial investment framework or the legislative framework for issues such as dealing with customers. All those things need to be in place to give investors reasonable certainty about the nature of the investment, particularly if it is something relatively new.

John Scott

Would it be helpful if that was in the bill?

Will Webster

It does not necessarily have to be an integral part of the bill. The process that is set out in the bill, of going from the targets to the climate change plan and into the policies, is a sensible way of proceeding. In fact, it makes more sense to have those things sequential than to put everything in one great big bill that tries to cover everything at the same time.

Stewart Stevenson

The bill talks about advice from the Committee on Climate Change, particularly in relation to the net zero target being “achievable”. What does “achievable” mean to each of you, or to those who wish to comment?

Dr Casey

I would say that “achievable” is about decarbonisation without deindustrialisation.

Stewart Stevenson

Just to check, are you saying that it is not linked to some magic insight about technology that will be available but is simply about a guiding set of principles that will get us to the destination?

Dr Casey

Obviously, the technology has to be part of it. My comment is about the need to keep our foundation industries in Scotland. We know what technologies we need to get us there, so let us support our industries to get commercial deployment of those technologies, so that we get decarbonisation without having to import materials that we currently produce in this country.

Fabrice Leveque

“Achievable” means that, theoretically, there is a way to reduce emissions to the level that we have set. My understanding is that the ways in which we do that for the very last few bits of emissions are still relatively speculative and will require a fair amount of innovation. However, that is within the bounds of possibility and is, therefore, achievable.

The issue of costs is a different question. That will be mediated by public and political appetite for reducing emissions. There is no worry that the costs will not be mulled over and factored into our decision making; rather, the danger is that they will weigh down on what we do. In terms of an ambition for emissions, “achievable” should mean what is plausibly doable and what we know we have to do; we can let politicians and the public fight over the speed at which we do it.

If we look back at the history of climate policy, we see that the reason for uncertainty and, for example, the reason why we have not developed manufacturing of wind turbines in the UK is the back and forth of policy. We need clarity over decades to make such investments. There is no danger of business, commercial or competitiveness worries coming into this debate. For the purpose of the bill and the long-term target, the debate must be about what the science is telling us to do and where we are aiming to get to.

Professor Jowitt

Given that the scientific evidence of climate change is overwhelming to most people with a rational mind, the need to set a target should be blindingly obvious. If we do not do it, it will be too late. The question, then, is: how do we get there? Some people will not like it or the impact that it might have on our “quality of life”—I put that phrase in inverted commas—or, in the phrase used in the bill, “sustainable economic growth”. Given that perpetual growth defies the second law of thermodynamics, we are going to have to re-look at that. I think that it might be “sustainable economic development” that is needed rather than “economic growth”.

As we move towards the target that we have to set, the question is whether you approach it as a technological optimist or a technological sceptic. I have highlighted the risk of assuming that technology will sort things out. The fact is that, if you start as a technological optimist, there is no guarantee that such an approach will work. However, if you start as a technological sceptic, there is no guarantee that that will work, either. You therefore have to think about what the outcomes will be if you adopt the technological optimism path. If it turns out that the game’s a bogey, you are rather up the creek; if you take a slightly more cautious approach, saying, “Technology won’t necessarily fix this—it’s going to need a change in behaviour,” and it turns out that technology can help you, you will be better off.

There is a wonderful paper, written by a chap in the United States called Costanza—I will happily give the reference to the committee after the meeting—in which he explores this issue and sets out four scenarios. On the one hand, with the technological optimist approach, you get what he calls the “Star Trek” outcome if it works and the “Mad Max” outcome if it does not. On the other hand, with the technological sceptic approach, you end up with either big government or ecotopia. He gets people to consider the decisions that they might make and the regrets that they might have. It really is quite staggering. Committee members might like to look at that paper. I am happy to provide a copy if that would be useful.

The Convener

We will take a copy of it.

Stewart Stevenson

I have always had doubts about the second law of thermodynamics and the whole business of entropy, given that we originated in the singularity, in which neither time nor energy existed. Energy can be created from nothing, but let us not go there.

Professor Jowitt

Well, we will collapse into nothing if we do not do something about this.

Stewart Stevenson

Indeed, but let us really not go there.

The remaining question that is worth asking is whether the interim targets are good enough to motivate industries and get us to the kind of destination that, in a broad sense, we all see that we need to reach—particularly in the next 15 years, given that there are certain things that we need to deliver over the next 15 years that we probably need to have started already.

The Convener

Can we have very short answers to that question, please? We are running out of time, and a couple of members still wish to ask questions.

Fabrice Leveque

The interim targets will increase ambition. Speaking self-interestedly, I think that our industry will deliver most towards meeting them; it is therefore in our interests for this to happen, and it will help to drive investment. After all, if we are struggling to meet a particular target, it might help if we move it, because some of the things that we are not doing at the moment but that I have mentioned, such as new builds, district heating networks and rural heating, are absolute givens in a higher-target scenario. It would therefore help to pull through more activity.

Angus MacDonald

I am keen to hear whether you agree with the Government’s approach in retaining an option to use carbon credits. How might they be used in, say, achieving the net zero target?

12:30  



The Convener

Does anyone have any thoughts on that?

Professor Jowitt

I had difficulty in understanding that part of the bill, as it is rather obscure. I am really worried when we imagine that the future of the planet can be left to the market. That reflects the comments that I made earlier.

There is an element of that in offsetting and carbon credits. I find it slightly dishonest that we would be prepared to buy something from somebody else that would allow us to carry on behaving badly. It would be like donating money to a charity for fallen women while still using the brothel. It is not a road that I would prefer to go down. If we think that carbon is important, we should reduce our use of it; we should not try to pretend that we are helping the world by buying a few credits from some other poor country to help it to improve its lot. We should do that anyway. Our moral obligation is to help countries that are less fortunate than ourselves to get into a much better position. We should not be doing that on the pretext that we are helping while we continue to pollute the planet.

The Convener

The final question will come from Richard Lyle.

Richard Lyle

Is the panel content with the new approach to annual reporting?

Professor Jowitt

Do you mean the percentage bit?

Richard Lyle

The way in which annual reporting is done is going to change. The policy memorandum says:

“the Bill rationalises the annual report produced under sections 33 and 34 of the 2009 Act so that it contains only information directly related to the outcome of the emissions reduction target for the relevant year.”

The bill will change the way in which the outcomes are reported. Are you content with that?

Professor Jowitt

I am probably ambivalent about that.

Richard Lyle

I take it that you are on the fence.

The Convener

Perhaps your second question will be more relevant.

Richard Lyle

What are the advantages and disadvantages of annual sectoral reporting on the climate change plan?

The Convener

Let us imagine that the oil and gas sector had to report as a sector.

Will Webster

We have a lot of obligations to report the cost of using carbon in our processes. We already have a number of reporting obligations—I could give you a list, but I will not.

The key thing that we have to come to terms with is the implication of a base for the emissions trading scheme. That piece of legislation, if it is used in the UK, will significantly increase the cost of emitting CO2 from our production processes and most of the other sectors that are covered. We have already seen the emissions certificate price go from around €5 per tonne up to €25 at one point, and it is now at about €20. That will be a significant cost for the sector, and there will be quite a bit of activity in dealing with it.

As well as the reporting requirements, these are the things that will drive different behaviours rather than the oversight of different pieces of legislation.

Dr Casey

Energy-intensive industries are already reporting into many different schemes. It is a massive burden; please do not burden us with any more reporting.

Richard Lyle

Perhaps I should report that my son works in the oil and gas industry in Aberdeen, just to keep myself correct.

Elizabeth Leighton

Taking sectoral reporting more for the climate change plan and how that has been broken down, it would be advantageous to have sectoral reporting so that we could understand progress against the targets. I presume that that would be supported by reports from the UKCCC.

Such reporting would also show how progress aligns with the budget. We need adequate resources if we are going to make the targets credible. There also needs to be a plan for corrective action if the policies fall behind what they set out to achieve. That has been a failing of previous climate change plans, even though the detail is useful.

I will comment briefly on the “achievable” targets. I hope that the committee looks at what comes from the UKCCC. You have asked for advice on the issue, and I presume that it will give you some advice on the interim and final targets. If it says that the targets are achievable, that will give some comfort that the Parliament is providing good leadership in Scotland and the UK, and to other parts of the world, in responding to the IPCC’s report with targets that will address the challenge that has been set for us.

The Convener

That is a good note to end on. Thank you for all your evidence this morning.

At its next meeting, on 27 November, the committee will continue its consideration of the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill by hearing evidence from the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform.

12:36 Meeting continued in private until 12:46.  



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Seventh meeting transcript

The Convener

Agenda item 2 is the final evidence session on the bill at stage 1.

I am delighted to welcome to the committee the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, who is accompanied by officials from the Scottish Government. Clare Hamilton is the deputy director of the decarbonisation division, Sara Grainger is the team leader in the delivery unit of the decarbonisation division, and Simon Fuller is the deputy director of economic analysis in the office of the chief economic adviser. I welcome you all.

I will ask the first series of questions, which are on the Paris agreement and the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. We have asked many of our panels whether they think that the bill complies with the Paris agreement. What specific temperature target is the bill aiming for? Is the bill adequate for compliance with the Paris agreement?

The Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (Roseanna Cunningham)

When we originally requested advice from the United Kingdom Committee on Climate Change—in June 2016—we asked it specifically for advice on bringing the new legislation into accord with the Paris agreement in general terms. We asked for advice about an appropriate response to the Paris agreement as we understood it at that time, and given the best available evidence. The aim, of course, was to limit global warming to well below 2°C and to pursue further efforts to limit it to below 1.5°C. That was the backdrop against which we asked for general advice that would bring us within that set of parameters.

Our more recent request was for more specific advice. Some 18 months down the line, we are, of course, in a different place. The specific advice that we sought was on the range that emissions would need to be within to make an appropriate contribution to keeping warming to well below 2°C and to limiting it to 1.5°C.

The response to our original request for advice—the few members left who were on the committee at that point will understand this—resulted in the Committee on Climate Change giving us two target ranges in March 2017. One of the ranges was for keeping warming below 2°C, and that was to reduce emissions by between 78 per cent and 87 per cent. We were already committed to an 80 per cent reduction, so we were, arguably, already committed to a target for keeping warming below 2°C.

The UKCCC uses what I believe is now common parlance and talks about a “return to 1.5°C”, which means there is an expectation that we might overshoot the target and then have to come back. That is not just us; I am talking globally. That target range was for a reduction of 89 per cent to 97 per cent, which is the range that 90 per cent falls into. That is how we have got to where we are at the moment.

The Convener

We asked a number of stakeholders, including Stop Climate Chaos and WWF Scotland, whether they think that the bill complies with the Paris agreement. They all said no. From what you have just said, however, the bill is on target for reductions that would limit any increase to as close to 1.5°C as is practicable.

Roseanna Cunningham

Yes. That is the advice that came from the UKCCC. That advice is dated March 2017, which is 18 months ago. We need to get the updated advice so that we are in a better position to know whether the 89 per cent to 97 per cent range that the UKCCC was flagging up to us is something that it needs to look at again. That is how we have understood the advice.

I hear the criticism, but it is, in fact, criticism of the statutory adviser to all the Governments in the UK. I am not quite sure where we would be if we were simply to set aside that advice and launch ourselves on some other way of gathering evidence.

The Convener

There is a tremendous difference for Scotland between the impact of 1.5°C warming and that of 2°C warming. Has work been done on the impact if warming is 2°C rather than 1.5°C?

Roseanna Cunningham

That would be quite difficult to do. Apart from anything else, we do not have control over everything, here in Scotland. We chose the tougher of the two targets—we chose a target within the range that would return to 1.5°C. We did that because, although the UKCCC said that that is at the limit of feasibility, it is feasible to construct a pathway to that target. Once we have set the targets, we construct that pathway. Some of the work has begun, but we have not considered the pathway in advance of the bill being passed.

As I indicated, the return to 1.5°C indicates a target range of between 89 per cent and 97 per cent reduction. The 90 per cent target is at the bottom end of that range, but the UKCCC says that it is at the limits of feasibility. There might, I suppose, be some discussion about the range, unless the UKCCC comes back with a more specific prognosis for net zero emissions.

The Convener

Since the UKCCC advice, we have had the IPCC report. What is your initial reaction to that report? How do you anticipate the bill being amended to reflect recommendations or information in it?

Roseanna Cunningham

At one level, our reaction was the same as everybody else’s. At another level, we could all have anticipated that the IPCC was going to come forward with something like this.

I do not think that we require to amend the bill because of the IPCC report. We are already on track, with the bill, to achieve what the IPCC report is looking for, including being carbon neutral by—in our case—a set date of 2050. What we are proposing lies within the parameters of what the IPCC asks for.

The IPCC is clearly looking at a global scenario and is anxious about countries that are not tackling climate change seriously enough or, as is the case for some countries, not tackling it at all. I am therefore relatively comfortable—as comfortable as one can be, given what we are discussing—that what we propose for Scotland is at the top end of what is achievable.

The Convener

You mentioned that you are waiting for updated advice from the Committee on Climate Change. We have heard that it will respond to you by April. Given the ambition to complete passage of the bill by the start of next summer recess, will there be sufficient time to incorporate the Committee on Climate Change’s advice between stage 2 and stage 3?

Roseanna Cunningham

All the Governments in the UK had hoped that we would receive the advice by the end of March; each has different reasons for hoping for that. We wanted the advice by then so that we could pass the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill, which was introduced in May. However, neither the Government nor I want to tie the bill too tightly to a timetable that would mean that we would need to proceed without the necessary advice. That would be an absurd position to be in.

At the end of the day, it will be for the committee to negotiate how the parliamentary business takes place. I think that if we get the advice in April, passing the bill by June 2019 is still doable, but I do not want to make the June deadline so hard and fast that it does not allow for our receiving the advice a bit later than would fit into that timetable. We would all probably like to see the bill done and dusted in this parliamentary year, but it is more important that the bill is right and reflects the advice that we receive, than that we stick to a deadline in a timetable.

Mark Ruskell (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Green)

You have talked about the “return”—the overshoot scenario in which we go beyond the target temperature increase and then, I hope, drop back down again. Are you worried by the impacts that might occur on the back of that scenario in relation to environmental refugees and habitat and species loss?

Roseanna Cunningham

Those are global issues and worries. The Committee on Climate Change gave us advice on the return scenario, and I expect that it might come back to that issue in its upcoming advice.

We are already seeing some impacts—there is no doubt about that. As we struggle to get the temperature back down again, some global effort will be required on the adaptation side and on the response side. The responses will need to be global, in particular on issues such as refugees, on which the global picture does not look great, at the moment.

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP)

I am heartened by the cabinet secretary’s view that we need time to accommodate the UK Committee on Climate Change’s next report. If the committee were to decide that it wants to take evidence on the report before stage 3, would the Government be minded to ensure that that would be consistent with any timetable that it pursues? Another option might be to have a chamber debate on the report before we proceed to stage 3.

As I suspect others are, I am anxious to ensure that we give full consideration to the report before the legislative process is completed. I am not asking for a commitment at the moment—I guess that you are not in a position to make one. It will be down to Parliament, to an extent. I am asking merely whether the Government would be prepared to collaborate and co-operate on such a basis.

Roseanna Cunningham

Yes. It is not in my gift to make such a commitment. There will be discussion between the committee, the Parliamentary Bureau and the Presiding Officer on chamber business. The fundamental thing is that we get the bill right, not that we pass it quickly. If that means that the committee thinks that it might need a bit of extra time, I see no problem with that. However, that will not be my decision; the committee will make the decision, in discussion with the relevant authorities. Even after so many years, it is still a bit of a mystery to me how some such decisions come out of the sausage machine.

09:45  



John Scott (Ayr) (Con)

Indeed—but my understanding is that we might have to go back to stage 1 to take evidence again. I think that that is what Stewart Stevenson is suggesting.

Roseanna Cunningham

That discussion needs to be had. I do not know the answer: it will depend on the advice of the Committee on Climate Change. The commitment in the bill to meet net zero emissions as soon as practicable is such that it would be relatively easily amended if the Committee on Climate Change comes back with advice that that is a feasible pathway. Such an amendment at stage 2—which is when we would see it happening—would be fairly straightforward. At that point, it will be up to the committee to decide whether to stop and go back to take more evidence. I will not be in a position to decide that for you.

John Scott

We will cross that bridge when we come to it.

Claudia Beamish (South Scotland) (Lab)

I want to focus my questions on the scope and implementation of the bill. We have heard evidence about the need for it to be transformational, and I think that this committee and many other people are agreed on that.

Given the number of tangible policies that we have been told about in oral evidence, is the Government considering including in the bill what I would call policy pointers that would support target delivery? Earlier today, I recalled the fact that the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 contained a significant number of policy mechanisms that would help to drive towards the target, such as the single-use bag policy. I would like to highlight some suggestions for this bill. One is the nitrogen budget and another—although it has not yet come up in evidence—is a reinforcement of the stance on fracking. It would also be good to have something about energy efficiency. Those are some thoughts that I have had; others might want to highlight other suggestions.

Roseanna Cunningham

I understand—at least, I appreciate—the thinking behind those suggestions, but we had to make a decision in relation to the bill with regard to whether it was going to be about targets or policy delivery options. If we started to include policy delivery options, the bill could become enormous, as it could end up bringing in things from every portfolio. If that happened, it would become unmanageable, because the committee would have to take specific evidence on specific policy delivery options across a potentially huge range. I caution people not to go down that route. The committee has had a recent example of what happens if you bring in something like that. The processes are such that the capability to understand the applications and to be in a position to make an absolutely informed decision on things is vastly limited.

I appreciate where people are coming from, but is that the best way to handle it? I do not think so. There could be any number of such measures across a range of policies. Claudia Beamish has mentioned energy efficiency, but there is a whole section of the Government that is already progressing energy efficiency and a huge amount of money has already been committed to that, and fuel poverty is being dealt with in another part of the Government. It is not that nothing is happening on those issues, and I am not sure that a bill such as the one that we are discussing is the right way to address them. We decided at the start of the process that it was not particularly appropriate to do that because, in effect, we wanted the legislation to be about resetting targets. At the end of the day, all the policies that will be required to deliver on those targets will be dealt with in each of the portfolios.

Claudia Beamish

Do you agree that what I have termed policy pointers, rather than detailed provisions, would give some clarity to where policy should be going, as happened with the 2009 act? You highlighted energy efficiency. There has been a recent statement in Parliament on that and a strategy is being developed. Other important areas, such as the good food nation, appear to have been kicked into the long grass, with a strategy rather than a bill.

I understand that we cannot have everything in this bill, but not everything was in the 2009 act. Indeed, some of the pointers in the 2009 act have not yet been implemented and may never be. Does listing policy pointers not give confidence? Was that not the purpose in 2009?

Roseanna Cunningham

Is that an argument in favour of listing them?

Claudia Beamish

Some pointers in the 2009 act have been implemented and some have not. Does including policy pointers not give confidence that there are policies that it is important to consider? Perhaps some may be controversial, such as some of the agriculture policy proposals, which there is a lot of uncertainty around.

Roseanna Cunningham

The committee would need to take detailed evidence on some of those things.

Claudia Beamish

That is what has happened.

Roseanna Cunningham

I do not know whether the committee would be in the best position to do so over a range of potential policies.

Claudia Beamish

That happened at the point at which it was necessary with the policies that have been taken forward, such as the policy on single-use bags.

Roseanna Cunningham

I do not think that that was triggered by what was in the act. It was happening anyway.

This discussion is about the nature of legislation. If the committee will forgive me for reverting to my previous profession as a lawyer, I say that if we legislate for vagueness, we will get vague legislation. That is not particularly helpful in the long run. This piece of legislation is not the right place to start dealing with specific policy pointers, as Claudia Beamish calls them. Those would be vague. There are plenty of other legislative and policy opportunities through which to progress such pointers.

Every one of my colleagues will be tasked on the basis of the targets in the bill to progress the necessary policies in their portfolio area. I have already begun bilaterals with colleagues about the implications of what the bill proposes.

Finlay Carson (Galloway and West Dumfries) (Con)

To back up what Claudia Beamish said, I say that, throughout the evidence that the committee has had, we have heard about various policies that would help Scotland reach the targets more urgently. Are you ruling out the need for the targets in the bill to be underpinned by supportive policies?

Roseanna Cunningham

No, I do not think that that is what I said. There is a difference between setting things in the legislation and understanding what is required to achieve the legislative targets that the bill is about. If things are set in the legislation, that has implications. This is a high-level discussion about the nature of legislation and how government should proceed.

I caution the committee to think carefully about that. There has been a recent example of what happens when a specific policy is brought into a general bill. People may feel, and I think that most committee members did feel, that not enough evidence had been brought forward for the decision to be properly informed.

I understand the temptation and I am not saying that, if I were sitting on the other side of the table, I would not also be tempted. The reality, however, is that legislation locks things down for the future. At this point, we do not know what provisions might be needed. We are setting out on a course and would not want to have our hands tied in certain directions. If legislative provisions do not tie hands, they are meaningless and become points of dispute, which is something that nobody wants.

Angus MacDonald (Falkirk East) (SNP)

The Government considers not legislating to be the most effective route to take for the just transition commission, stating that

“providing a statutory basis for the Commission would delay the work we want it to undertake.”

Why will placing the commission on a statutory footing “delay the work”, and what will be happening with the JTC between now and June next year?

Roseanna Cunningham

First, there is a debate over the June date, as we are into what is potentially a fairly long legislative process.

Secondly, we have already appointed a chair of the commission, and I will soon be appointing its members. The expectation is that it will have its first meeting in January with a remit to deliver advice within two years, and not legislating for it gives us the fleetness of foot to enable us to take that approach.

I have no idea when this bill will get through stage 3 or when it will get royal assent, but let us presume for the purposes of generalisation that it gets through in June and receives royal assent perhaps by autumn, at which point it comes into being. If the just transition commission is put into legislation, I will at that point have to pause the existing commission, and we will then have to go through an entire public appointments process to appoint the commission’s members. That will take about four or five months; people will find that difficult to understand, but anyone who has gone through and understands the procedure will know that it takes a very long time.

We will then have to set up an independent secretariat, with all its associated costs, and the likelihood is that the set-up will not be in place until about a year later, at the very minimum. In the meantime, we will have to stop the just transition commission that will already be doing all this work, because of the commission that has been legislated for. I do not think that that approach will aid us if we have to stop the work that is being done. An already appointed just transition commission cannot continue if there is legislation that requires the commission to be put on a legislative footing.

Indeed, if we put the commission on such a footing, we will have to argue about how long it will sit for, which is an issue on which I know there is a hugely different set of views. Moreover, its costs will change, depending on that decision. There is a just transition commission that is about to start work right now and which will give us advice in two years. At that point, we can consider how best to progress.

The just transition commission that we are putting in place right now will be the first of its kind in the world, and I think it far better that we crack on now and deal with some of the really important issues that the commission needs to deal with instead of having to deal with the awkwardness of setting up a statutory commission, with all the costs and time that that would entail.

The Convener

I will take Mark Ruskell next and then come back to Claudia Beamish to finish this line of questioning.

Mark Ruskell

I want to return to the previous point about what and, indeed, whether policies go into the bill. I suppose that some of this comes down to what confidence the committee has in the other parts of legislation or the Government picking up on whatever target is in the bill, whether it be net zero by 2050, 2040 or whatever, and putting in place the right policies to drive that forward. How much reassurance can you give the committee that there is a plan B for the other parts of the Government so that, if the bill ends up with a higher target than it has at the moment, the legislative frameworks that are needed to deliver it will be put in place?

Roseanna Cunningham

I would have expected the confidence to come from the fact that Scotland has already reduced its emissions by 49 per cent since 1990. We are well on the way and well on track, and everything that we are doing is at the very top level of ambition as far as anything else in the rest of the world is concerned. I would have thought that that in itself would give you confidence. In a sense, what you are asking me betrays one of the difficulties. You want to try to second-guess, across all the portfolios, what particular policy things they should be doing and then lever those into the bill. That really is not the best way to progress. Although I understand the temptation, it is not appropriate for us to do that. I guess that there is a fundamental difference between our approaches.

10:00  



Mark Ruskell

I did not necessarily say that I was suggesting that. I was just putting it back to you for you to reassure me, so that I do not have to.

Roseanna Cunningham

I can reassure you only about this Government’s intentions. I cannot reassure you about a future Government of any colour, but that is the same with everything. The bill will bind us to targets, but the policies that are used to achieve those targets may vary. There may be lots of alternative options, but I do not know. That is one of the things that I hope the Committee on Climate Change gives us good advice on.

The Convener

Of course, the climate change plan is key.

Roseanna Cunningham

Yes.

The Convener

When can we expect a new or updated climate change plan to be published?

Roseanna Cunningham

In a sense, that is a follow-on discussion, because that is about the way in which we are doing things. That is why we have taken the approach that we have taken just now. Under the 2009 act, the next plan is due in late 2021-22. I go back to the point about when we might expect the bill to be passed. We have only just come through a climate change plan process. Do we get to the end of 2019 with an expectation that, somehow, we can create an entire new climate change plan from scratch in the space of a year, although it took two years to produce the existing one? Alternatively, do we consider updating or redoing the existing climate change plan to take account of whatever targets we end up with in the bill?

We need to have that discussion. Another reason for having it is that there is an issue about scrutiny periods for anything that we do. I will consider that as soon as the bill has passed through Parliament. There will be a difference if the bill gets through in June rather than slipping into the following parliamentary year. I will think about whether it is more appropriate to update the current plan in the short term or to bring forward a new plan quickly. However, I have to say that bringing forward a new plan involves a minimum 12 to 18-month exercise. If we do not start it until the end of 2019—which would mean starting a new plan almost as soon as the ink has dried on the royal assent—we would not finish it before the next Scottish parliamentary election. We are stuck with the parliamentary timetable, whether we like it or not. I need to think about that and, obviously, we will discuss the issue further with the committee.

Claudia Beamish

I want to go back briefly to the just transition commission. It is surely a question of balance. You used the term “awkwardness” in talking about that—I do not want to summarise what you said, because we heard it and it will be in the Official Report. However, I want to ask you again about the fact that, when we set the targets for net zero, whenever that is, the whole thrust must be that there is a fair way forward for affected communities and workers. I am delighted that a commission is to be set up, but surely the awkwardness and complexity of having a statutory commission must be weighed up against the importance of ensuring that, as with the targets, whatever Government we have, the commission drives us forward in a fair way. I have concerns about the just transition commission not being on a statutory basis.

Roseanna Cunningham

I do not think that that follows. You are falling into the trap of assuming that the just transition commission is the only place where those conversations are happening. We have a number of other things. Like all Scottish Government policies, the climate change plans are subject to impact assessments. There is a duty to carry out an equality impact assessment and a fairer Scotland duty assessment, where that is appropriate. The purpose of the fairer Scotland duty assessment is to ensure that those living on low incomes—that is not just about employment—are not disproportionately disadvantaged as a result of policy decisions.

We have to consider various criteria, including social circumstances, in relation to some of the bill’s targets. An equality impact assessment, a children’s rights and wellbeing impact assessment and a fairer Scotland assessment were all carried out on the bill’s proposals. Indeed, we have not set the net zero target date at this time because, until we have a credible pathway, there may be negative social consequences, which we do not want to see.

It is not the case that those things are not being looked at; they are simply not all being dealt with by the just transition commission—the issues are being taken on board in a lot of other Government policy areas. An argument that the just transition commission has to be on a statutory basis does not necessarily follow. In any case, I return to the fact that, as I understand it, once a just transition commission was legislated for, in effect we would stop the current just transition commission from continuing. It would take considerable time, effort and cost to set up a statutory commission, so we would lose at least a year of really important work that we do not have time to lose.

It is a case of pressing ahead now, rather than waiting for the commission to be put on a statutory basis. That is why we have done what we have. We have decided to press ahead. I am sorry if going too fast is a problem, but we are doing it.

Claudia Beamish

I have never said that we are going too fast, and I have never criticised the just transition commission. I am simply saying that there is a lot of robust argument, including from unions, non-governmental organisations and businesses, for putting the commission on a statutory footing. I would have thought that there could be a way to move towards to that position, so that, whoever is in government, we have an inclusive partnership of dialogue. That is a different view, so perhaps we should just agree to differ.

The Convener

Angus MacDonald wants to ask questions on the same theme.

Angus MacDonald

We have covered the just transition commission, but it is probably fair to say that the majority of stakeholders that we have asked are keen to see it put on a statutory footing.

I will follow on from all that and look at transformational change. The evidence to date has shown—and we all clearly see—that there is a need for “transformational change” and that it should be “systemic” rather than just at an individual level. It has been noted that there is no “all voluntary future” and that climate change cannot be solved without statutory backstops.

I am keen to hear how transformational change can be achieved while retaining sectoral and societal buy-in. For example, are there limits to public acceptability? To what extent can transformational change be voluntary?

Roseanna Cunningham

I preface everything that I will say about that with a reminder that we live in a democracy and that everything that is done in a democracy must have, if not the explicit support, at least the implicit support of the majority.

It is possible for Governments to do fairly ambitious things—we have seen a smoking ban introduced, and we have minimum pricing of alcohol. Two different Governments brought in those measures, and it is probably fair to say that there was a degree of muttering in certain quarters about both of those proposals; members of the public were not particularly on board for either. Nevertheless, there was an implicit understanding that the proposals tackled problems that needed to be tackled. In some cases, people were a bit reluctant, while in others they were more enthusiastic, but they were willing to accept that those were, if not their preferred options, at least reasonable ways of taking things forward. It is really important to state at the outset the need for that implicit, if not absolutely explicit, support.

Climate change is on the verge of becoming part of that scenario. The most recent Scottish household survey showed that concern about climate change is beginning to penetrate the majority of households’ and people’s minds, and that is an important indicator of the possibility of pushing forward with climate change policies that might accrue implicit buy-in. That buy-in is important, and we have to know that we are going to get it. As far as policies and certain sections of the community are concerned, that will be easier to do in some areas and harder to do in others.

This is not just a straightforward, across-the-board game that we are talking about; it is something that we have to engage in at every level. Indeed, behaviour change must happen at every level, too. What slightly frustrates me is the way in which, in this debate, we jump from what the Government is doing to what individuals are doing without looking at the range of other groups and institutions, both public and private, in between. Behaviour change can be driven by exemplars. If, for example, a big private company begins to make statements on the matter and makes changes, that helps to build the implicit buy-in that we want across the board. I do not want the conversation to be just about what the Government is doing and what individuals are doing, because there is a whole range of behaviour changes in between that I think are necessary, too.

We must ensure that people know about the technological changes that will help and, as a Government, change our approach to behaviour change. Last week, we announced that we had finished a review of the current public engagement strategy, which is provided for under the 2009 act, and our conclusion is that we need to revise that strategy to ensure that what we do is commensurate with the targets in the bill. We know that the scenario is constantly changing and that we have to keep up with it. I do not know whether colleagues were aware of the review of climate change behaviour issues, but we are thinking about the issue.

Angus MacDonald

We welcome the behaviour change that is happening, but are there any plans for statutory backstops?

Roseanna Cunningham

I do not know what you mean by “statutory backstops”.

Angus MacDonald

I am talking about backstops that will ensure and encourage further behavioural change.

Roseanna Cunningham

I do not think that we can legislate for behaviour change—what we can do is constantly engage and encourage. In that respect, we have identified 10 key behaviours, and we have the public engagement strategy to which I have just referred. We are going to publish a refreshed strategy as soon as possible, but I am not sure—

Sara Grainger (Scottish Government)

May I come in, cabinet secretary?

Roseanna Cunningham

Yes.

10:15  



Sara Grainger

The cabinet secretary made the point that many of the policies need to be taken forward in different portfolios. An example that touches on your question, if I understand it right, is the work that is being done as part of the energy efficient Scotland programme, which involves quite a lot of behaviour change—for example, in how people use their heating systems and in the decisions that home owners make about insulating their homes. Consideration is being given to how to encourage home owners to better insulate their properties and when to stop encouraging them and absolutely require them to do that. As that involves huge costs for home owners, the issue is being considered carefully. If that is the kind of behaviour change that you are talking about, the conversations about such considerations take place in the relevant portfolios.

Angus MacDonald

Thank you.

John Scott

I declare an interest. How will the Scottish economy and Scottish society have to change to achieve a 90 per cent target and a net zero target? What change do you foresee?

Roseanna Cunningham

It is difficult to foresee what change would be required in relation to a net zero target. The UK Committee on Climate Change said that it could not see a pathway to that target. If we were to set a net zero target without there being a pathway, that would, in effect, take us into the realms of high-level guesswork.

The Committee on Climate Change thought that a 90 per cent target was at the outside of feasibility, so every sector of society will require to think about the changes that need to be made. A 90 per cent target is challenging for us from the point of view of transport and the other obvious areas that have been flagged up. The energy transformation is already taking place and will continue to proceed quickly. The challenges that we face relate to buildings—we are dealing with that issue through the fuel poverty and energy efficiency work—agriculture, which I know the committee will often come back to, and transport. I have already had conversations with my colleague Michael Matheson about the changes that are required in transport.

I go back to the comment that I made about behaviour change and the need for us not to jump automatically from the Government level to the individual level. A range of bodies need to be challenged on, for example, their policies on their car fleets. At what point will they make the transition to low-emission vehicles? When we are being called on to increase targets, it is fair to ask companies and institutions when they expect to do such things and what their plans are.

A variety of measures might be taken. We will have to add them all up, and that will be part of our consideration of the climate change plan, which we discussed earlier.

John Scott

Would it be fair to say that you are prepared for such societal change to be brought about not necessarily by the provisions in the bill but in different portfolios that other cabinet secretaries are in charge of? In other words, you are charging them with responsibility for delivery.

Roseanna Cunningham

In effect, that is how we progress; that is how we have got to where we are. As I indicated, I have started to have direct conversations with colleagues in the areas that are most likely to be affected, to flag up the need for them to go back—notwithstanding the fact that they have just come through the climate change plan process—and start to think more ambitiously about what can be delivered in each of their portfolios.

However, as I said, I think that this is a task for everybody. It cannot just be the Government that takes action; action will have to be taken at every level of society. If we want fossil-fuel vehicles to be phased out by 2032, I would like to hear about what companies and other institutions are doing in respect of their activities and provisions.

I am sometimes a bit naughty when I have these conversations. When I get the calls, I want to say to, for example, the Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church, “Well, when are you going to tell your priests and ministers that they are not going to be permitted to buy a fossil-fuel car?” Those decisions have to be made as well, and I want to hear back from some organisations what their decisions are going to be. It is not good enough just to call for the targets; everybody has to buy into them. I am not asking everybody around this table when they plan to do that, but it is a decision for individuals, institutions and the Government all together.

John Scott

You do not have a particular biblical reference to back up that statement.

Roseanna Cunningham

On ultra-low-emission vehicles? Sadly, I do not. I will seek one, because I am sure that there is one somewhere that will suffice. There usually is, and there might even be a Shakespearean reference that does the job as well.

I am trying to make the point that an effort is required at every level of society. I am concerned about jumping from the high level of Government down to the level of individual behaviour and putting it on the individual’s shoulders when there is a range of things in between that we can reasonably expect to see movement on as well.

Stewart Stevenson

I think that the cabinet secretary was maybe struggling to go for the tower of Babel with regard to a biblical reference.

Roseanna Cunningham

We could have a theological discussion, if you want.

Stewart Stevenson

Indeed, but on another occasion.

I want to explore the targets a wee bit. In particular, substantial pressure has come from many of the stakeholders who have appeared in front of the committee for the Government to set a net zero target sooner rather than later. Before I go on to that, I will develop a bit of what has gone before and ask whether particular policies that might advance the climate change agenda, such as electrifying the car fleet, might have adverse effects if improperly implemented.

For example, given the substantial sunk carbon costs of new vehicles, it would be unhelpful if we doubled the size of the car fleet, which we might do if we thought there would be a zero-carbon effect. I was thinking of the renewable heat initiative in Northern Ireland, which was a good idea if a boiler was replaced with a better boiler. However, an awful lot more boilers were installed, so the effect was negative, not positive.

Roseanna Cunningham

That is an important issue to raise, because, when we are looking at a policy option, we have to think about the whole life of the item or all the consequences of its introduction. That applies to virtually any of the delivery decisions that we might make. In addition, a lot of delivery decisions might be predicated on a technology that, at the moment, we are not certain is the right way to go, which is another issue to be considered.

With a lot of things, at the moment, we are at the VHS versus Betamax stage of the debate. Who would have been able to predict which one of those would be the technology that everybody would go for? I am not sure that we are in that space with some technologies. That complication has to be looked at for all the proposals that I see being mooted not just in evidence to this committee but out there. We all read about them and see them, and I think there are real consequences of going down that road. In general terms, the consequences might not be immediately evident when we make a superficial call or introduce a policy without proper evidence.

I do not want to get drawn too far into a discussion about cars, as I have never owned one in my life, so I do not have much of a feeling for that area. However, I am conscious that the proliferation of cars may not be the best thing to happen for a lot of reasons. The speed with which one can make the changeover is another issue. Nevertheless, it is obviously where we have to go, and that change will have to be managed. People have questioned the increasing electricity use that will be required if we go down that road, and such things all have to be factored into any decision about cars. There will then be the argument that, rather than increase the use of cars, we should increase the use of public transport. All of that has to be taken into consideration.

Stewart Stevenson

One sector in which the speed of change is seen as particularly difficult is agriculture. Is the Government thinking about the balance that there could be? For example, if we were to move ahead with something that we know we probably can do, such as upping our exports of zero-emission electricity, given that we have huge potential for renewable energy, that could take us towards net zero without doing anything on agriculture. Is that part of the thinking, or is the Government considering the feasibility of particular things that can be done in agriculture?

Roseanna Cunningham

I am having conversations with my colleague Fergus Ewing about the issue, and I have had meetings with a range of agricultural associations. They are in no doubt that, in effect, a bit of tough love is needed—they are aware that they need to make changes. However, there are issues with making changes. We cannot produce food without emissions. There is no way in the world to produce food without emissions. There will always be agricultural emissions; therefore, to an extent, there will always be the need to balance, and whether we balance through a calculation that is about exporting renewable electricity or in a different way is a matter to be considered as things progress. The aim with agriculture and food production is to reduce emissions as far as is reasonable, manageable and doable given the current understanding and tools that we have available. However, we will never get emissions in that sector down to zero, because producing food—which is a fairly fundamental thing that we all have to do—will produce emissions.

The Convener

I presume that we do not want to shift emissions to other countries by making it too onerous for people to produce food here.

Roseanna Cunningham

That is an issue. There is a big question mark over some of the ideas that are floating about in respect of people’s diets and all the rest of it—in my view, they would simply shift emissions, which is not particularly helpful in a global sense. If people offshore emissions because of decisions that we make, that is the other side of the coin that Stewart Stevenson mentioned when he talked about our ability to balance using other mechanisms within our economy. Equally, we may end up offshoring emissions, which is not particularly helpful.

Mark Ruskell

I wonder where the evidence is for that offshoring argument. A couple of years ago, the World Bank produced a report that said that environmental policies have been found to induce innovation to offset part of the costs of compliance with environmental policy.

Roseanna Cunningham

I suspect that such policies do both—they encourage innovation and run the risk of encouraging offshoring. I remind members that we are making decisions in Scotland, which is a devolved part of the UK. If our climate change targets encourage businesses to move south of the border, it is easy for them to do that but it does not help us. Given that we have domestic targets in Scotland, from our perspective, offshoring is more about going to the rest of the UK than about going elsewhere completely.

10:30  



I think that both things can happen. Scotland has a great history of innovation, and it continues to innovate, particularly in the areas in question, but there is also a risk. That is why, for example, Norway—which has not set a target, as it has not legislated—has said that it will reach net zero emissions by 2030 if other countries do the same. What is driving its ambition is its need to ensure that it does not get itself so out of kilter with neighbouring countries that it ends up, in effect, causing itself a problem by having parts of its economy disappear over the borders.

Mark Ruskell

You have spoken very negatively about a net zero target. I do not think that I have heard a positive argument from you or any of your officials about that in the past year or so. Can you see any advantages—to the economy, for example—of setting a net zero carbon target?

Roseanna Cunningham

If we did not, we would not be asking the Committee on Climate Change for advice. The point about the net zero target is that, at the moment, we do not know how to get there. We have said right from the outset—from the moment that the bill was introduced—that, if we can get advice about how to get there, the bill was drafted in such a way as to allow us to amend it immediately there is a pathway.

It is not about being negative; it is about needing to be credible and realistic, and needing to see a way to get there. We are already among the most ambitious countries in the world in terms of achieving emissions reductions, and that will not change.

Mark Ruskell

Do you see any advantages to the economy of setting a net zero target and driving innovation? Do you see any advantages in being a first mover on technologies, rather than waiting to see what Norway does and adopting that somewhere down the line?

Roseanna Cunningham

That is not what I was saying. The point that I was making was that, if we set out with a target without knowing how to get there, we would run a real risk of making serious mistakes. I want to get advice from the Committee on Climate Change before we embark on that. However, the minute that that advice comes—the minute that the CCC says, “Here is the pathway”—the Government will adopt it.

Finlay Carson

I want to go back to agriculture and the red meat sector in particular. We must remember that we are only 75 per cent self-sufficient in beef. Throughout the evidence sessions, we have heard perhaps not enthusiasm but certainly an acceptance from academics and the college sector and from farmers that there is more that the sector can do. There is an open-mindedness on that. The suggestion is that most of the difference between a 90 per cent reduction and a reduction to net zero is down to nitrous oxides, and a lot of that will be down to agriculture and transport. Around six months ago, there were lots of rumours—or a bit of scaremongering—that suggested that, if the Government were to go for net zero, that would decimate the red meat industry in Scotland. Is that your belief?

Roseanna Cunningham

One of the challenges relates to the residual gases that we are talking about other than CO2. It is not just about nitrogen; it is also about methane, and methane is a particular issue for meat production.

I go back to what Stewart Stevenson asked about. There is a bigger issue to do with meat production globally, as opposed to how it is managed in Scotland, and there is a tendency to generalise globally. Because something is done in one way in many countries, is that what happens here? I am conscious that a lot of work is being done on the issue, and I know that farmers—particularly those who deal with beef cattle and sheep—are very aware of it.

However, we need to remember that around 86 per cent of the agricultural land in Scotland is in less favoured areas. The hill farmers are already on marginal incomes, so it would not take much to tip them over the edge and end their businesses. I am really conscious of that. We have had a long discussion about a just transition. That is not just about workers; it is also about consumers and individuals, and about some farming sectors. I know that some of the farmers we are talking about live off incomes that range between £14,000 and £18,000, which most people would find astonishing. We have to be careful about the decisions that we make here and what they mean.

Carrots and potatoes are not suddenly going to grow on that 86 per cent of agricultural land in less favoured areas, which is not suitable for any other type of food production. We need to take all those things into account when we think about the effects of some of the decisions that might be made. I am as conscious of all that as anybody is or should be. There will real impacts on real people.

Finlay Carson

A document was published around the time of the Royal Highland Show that suggested that meat production in Scotland would be decimated if the decision was taken to go to net zero.

Roseanna Cunningham

We certainly produced an analysis that said that, without having a specific pathway, the difference between 90 per cent and net zero would put enormous pressure on food production, and particularly meat production.

I cannot imagine that anybody here is unaware of the widespread discussion that is taking place about rapid dietary change being required, which would end up with nobody eating meat at all by 2050. If nobody is eating meat at all, the implications are pretty enormous for anybody who makes a living, however marginal, from the production of meat.

There is real concern about managing the situation. That is why we have to work with farmers to try to get them to a place where we understand what they are doing and how they can get their emissions down as far as possible, and then use some of the balancing-off from other areas. At the end of the day, we all need food, and food has to be produced. Even if people do not eat meat, plants still have to be raised. Whatever we eat, its production will have involved emissions. We just have to be careful about the changes and what they might mean for particular sectors.

Finlay Carson

Right now, with the evidence that we have and the information that you know, if we went to net zero, you believe that it would decimate meat production in Scotland.

Roseanna Cunningham

I do not use words like “decimate”. What I understand to be the case is that this is one of the areas in which we would need to make quite draconian decisions. My point is that there is also a just transition issue here. People produce food on land that will not produce any other food if they no longer farm it in that way. We already import a significant amount of meat, and if we increase those imports, we are in danger of increasing emissions elsewhere.

It goes back to the complicated equation between a decision that we make here and its potential effects on emissions reduction. There could be a positive effect on our emissions and a negative effect on those of other countries. That is why it is complicated.

I do not have an easy answer. Everything I read that suggests that we all have to be vegetarian, if not vegan, by 2050 presupposes that nobody in Scotland will be producing meat. The consequences of that would be pretty drastic, and in those circumstances would have to be thought through very carefully. I am trying not to be alarmist. I am aware that there was some discussion around the RHS that got a bit alarmist. Nevertheless, it is an important issue. If a decision is made in one place, it has consequences in another.

The Convener

Talking of other places, the cabinet secretary will have seen the evidence that we got from our Swedish colleagues, in particular the politician Anders Wijkman, who talked positively about Scotland’s ambition. Here, Sweden is pointed to as the epitome of good practice on the net zero target and so on. The Swedish system, policies and targets are quite different from ours.

Roseanna Cunningham

That is one of the things that has surprised me most in doing this job. I took it as read that international comparisons compared like with like, but that is not the case. The more I understand that, the more I realise that what one country says and does compared with what another says and does can vary considerably and make it almost impossible to do a straight read-across.

That is one of the weaknesses of the international system. It is not within my gift to fix that, but it ought to be fixed. When we look at what another country says that it is doing, it is hard to know how that compares with what we choose to do. The Scottish Government still refers to Sweden as being in the forefront of policy and says that we are second only to Sweden.

The Convener

Anders Wijkman said that about Scotland.

Roseanna Cunningham

If they say that about us, perhaps there is a debate in Sweden that says that Scotland is ahead. I do not know, because I am involved only in our domestic debate.

There are countries that do not include LULUCF—the land use, land-use change and forestry sector—at all. When I ask their ministers why, they say it would be too difficult. Ireland does not include LULUCF in its announcements because it runs four peat-fired power stations. We include a share of international shipping and aviation, but other countries do not—including, I think, Sweden. There is also the issue of carbon credits, on which our approach has been different from that of others. It is frustrating, and I always want to look behind the announcements now. That is why I mentioned Norway. Norway made an announcement about net zero by 2030, but I have looked behind that: the target is not statutory and it is predicated on things that arguably mean that it is challengeable.

We do things in a way that is constrained by legislation and which includes annual targets. We are the only country in the world with annual targets. We are the only country in the world where the Government has to come to Parliament every single year and explain each set of statistics on greenhouse gas emissions. There is no other country in the world where a climate change minister has to do that. In those circumstances, why would we not say that we are among the most ambitious in the world?

The Convener

That is a good point at which to turn to John Scott’s questions on interim targets. I will try to bring in other members. I want to move the agenda along so that we get to everyone’s questions.

John Scott

Before I ask about interim targets, I want to ask a question on the previous subject.

Please accept at the outset, cabinet secretary, that I am not really setting out to be awkward—

Roseanna Cunningham

He said, setting out to be awkward.

John Scott

—but you will be aware of the revolutionary work in Queensland in northern Australia on reducing methane in cattle through the use of seaweed. Under laboratory conditions, the approach reduces methane output by 90 per cent. Some of our research institutes are already aware of and looking at that, but were it to be discovered that seaweed around Scotland shared the same properties that seaweed on the great barrier reef apparently has to facilitate methane reduction in cattle in Scotland, how would we harvest it?

10:45  



Roseanna Cunningham

If we have this conversation, we might simply end up reiterating a conversation that we have already had. An easy answer might be that there is obviously real potential for seaweed farming, and I think that we can all agree that that would be a good way forward.

I do not know the details of the research to which you refer, but I am aware that a lot of work on methane is being done around the world, and we need to be absolutely clear about the practical implications of such scientific research and whether it will work in Scotland. I am sure that Scottish Government officials and, indeed, farmers will be watching that work carefully, because such a way of proceeding could well become very advantageous, if the research is borne out in practice.

John Scott

Many thanks. I will now ask the questions that the convener wants me to ask, which are on the adequacy of interim targets. Given that the 2020 target is on course to be achieved, is it actually challenging enough?

Roseanna Cunningham

You have raised the slightly existential question whether a target is only a good target if it cannot be achieved. If that were the case, you would come and beat us around the head for not achieving it. In that sense, we cannot win if we set a target that is achievable, however stretching it might be, and if we do not achieve it, we are seen to have failed. I do not know any easy answer to your question—all we can do is set targets that seem to be realistic and credible on the basis of the evidence that we have when we set them. In 2009, we set targets that have turned out to be more achievable, but we could not have foreseen at that time some of the things that happened subsequently.

John Scott

I agree. We should be celebrating having achieved the targets instead of beating ourselves over the head for not doing so.

Why has the Scottish Government decided to take a linear emissions reduction pathway to 2050, given what we have heard in evidence about the risk being exponential? Of course, I would need to discuss with Stewart Stevenson whether, by saying the term “exponential”, I am using the right scale in that respect.

Roseanna Cunningham

First, we are constrained in the way that we do things here, in that we have to set out in the climate change plan and so on how we will progress towards the final target of 2050 and show what will happen at each stage. To a certain extent, that binds us into a linear way of thinking.

It is always easier to look at things in the short to medium term, because you will have more confidence about what might or might not be required and what might or might not be available. It is harder to know such things as you move into the longer term. I know that we are not yet at 2020, but trying to think about, say, the year 2040 would be equivalent to trying to think about the year 2020 back in 2000. Some of the things that we are doing now would have been unthinkable and unforeseeable just 20 years ago. There is therefore a constraint in that respect.

The way we are trying to do things at the moment is, I think, the best way possible. I am also not sure what the alternative to linear targets would be.

Sara Grainger

The other way of approaching the question is to ask not why we have linear targets, but why we have not taken any of the other approaches that we could take. For example, we could take a steps-based approach, related to when we expect technology to come on stream, but that would become a guessing game in which you would bet on which year things would come in.

Another possibility would be to have a curve, one way or the other, perhaps with greater effort in the near term. However, we already have the most ambitious targets in the world for 2020 and 2030 and, as the cabinet secretary has made clear, we think that credibility is very important, so we do not think that we can do anything morer in the nearer term.

Roseanna Cunningham

Is that a word?

Sara Grainger

I have invented it. We assumed that doing less in the near term and more later would not be acceptable to stakeholders or the Parliament, so that leaves us with a linear pathway.

John Scott

I see. There are reasonable questions to be asked. Why should we wait until after 2030 for more rapid decarbonisation? In evidence, the committee has been told that the tools and much of the technology already exist in many sectors, but they need to be applied. There might be the issue of the cost of applying that technology sooner rather than later—I see Mr Fuller from the Government’s finance department nodding his head sagely.

Roseanna Cunningham

I suppose that we could have this conversation ad nauseam. We are trying to progress and make changes while keeping in mind all the other issues, such as the consequences, a just transition, social justice and so on, that we need to think about. That is why everything needs to be credible and realistic, because we need to be in a position to make the changes in a way that will not damage sections of society.

I know that there is a bigger argument that, if we do not make the changes, damage is coming anyway from climate change. That is why we are setting out our long-term targets and trying to ensure that all the things that we do work through that balance.

This is a challenge for every single country, but Scotland is meeting that challenge far better than virtually any other country. Are we meeting it perfectly? Perhaps not. Maybe in 20 or 30 years’ time, everyone will be able to sit in this room—I presume that it will not be us—and, with hindsight, look back and say, “They should have said X, Y and Z,” but we can make decisions only on the basis of the information that we have now. That is what we are doing, whether that be in the energy portfolio with the rapid changes that we have made in decarbonising energy—that work will continue apace—or work that cuts across all the other portfolios, too.

John Scott

For the record, do the interim targets, as set out in the bill, fulfil the IPCC’s requirement for

“rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”?

Roseanna Cunningham

Yes, absolutely.

Sara Grainger

The IPCC report said that the world needs to reach peak emissions very soon. Scotland has passed peak emissions—we have halved emissions since 1990 and we have the most ambitious targets for 2020 and 2030. That very much delivers on what the IPCC has said.

Mark Ruskell

Are there some assumptions that could still be challenged? For example, there is the assumption in the UKCCC advice that, in 2050, we will still be producing electricity by burning North Sea gas. That seems like a very early 20th century debate. Surely technology will have moved on by then.

Roseanna Cunningham

It might have. Oil and gas production is changing rapidly, and I cannot foresee what might be the case in 2050. The Committee on Climate Change is not in any better position than we are, in terms of being able to anticipate what technologies will be available and applicable to that industry, or to any other industry, 32 years from now. That is the difficulty in all this. Unbeknown to us, we could be on the brink of major technological changes in some areas, or we might not. We need to proceed on the basis of what we know now, as opposed to what we think might be the case in another 20 or 30 years’ time.

Claudia Beamish

Some people would argue—it is a credible argument; I mention that because you have talked about things being credible and realistic—that the climate change plans are the policy mechanisms by which, on the back of innovation and technology that develops over the next 30 or 40 years, we can be even more ambitious than the 90 per cent target that you think that we should go for. Surely that pathway is there.

Roseanna Cunningham

Yes, but we do not legislate the climate change plan. The plan is an official document that involves a constantly changing discussion that Government has to have with stakeholders and the committee. I have already indicated that the minute that the bill is through, we will revisit the current climate change plan, which, I remind you, was signed off not that long ago. We will have to consider it again, because it will have to be updated. I see that Claudia Beamish is shaking her head, and I appreciate that the committee might feel that it is engaged in a constant cycle of thinking about the plan but, in truth, that is the case. That is where these discussions and detailed conversations need to be had.

Finlay Carson

Section 5 sets out the target-setting criteria. Generally, people have welcomed the additions and the updating of the position in the 2009 act. However, some people have suggested to us, in relation to the target-setting criterion about not exceeding the fair and safe Scottish emissions budget, that the term “fair and safe” should be defined and calculated. What are your thoughts on that?

Roseanna Cunningham

The term “fair and safe” concerns the total amount of emissions over the period that the Committee on Climate Change thinks would be consistent with an appropriate Scottish contribution to global efforts. Basically, that is all that “fair and safe” means. I understand that, to a lot of people, that sounds a bit circular and does not say very much. There is an issue around that, and there is a possibility that that could be tweaked if people are particularly interested in that issue. The term “fair and safe” could be expanded beyond that, or could be made to be a bit more specific. That is a conversation that could reasonably be had with the committee and others.

Finlay Carson

There was certainly a desire that the term should be defined and calculated. There was also a suggestion that public health should be one of the target-setting criteria. Should public health be added? That could relate to preventative health spend, fuel poverty and so on.

Roseanna Cunningham

That is a discussion that we could have if we decided to add things into “fair and safe”. However, there is a danger that we start to expand the term by including so many things that it becomes meaningless. If you recall, I said earlier that there was quite a lot of work being done in other parts of Government on some of those aspects. To some extent, the just transition commission is about the “fair” part.

There is a discussion to be had about this issue, and I am happy to have that conversation.

Mark Ruskell

How do you define “achievable” in relation to the net zero target?

Roseanna Cunningham

In effect, “achievable” means being able to show how we get from here to there in a way that is credible and realistic. That means avoiding rhetorical flourishes and, instead, looking at what can be done and the timescale in which it can be done. Achievability has to be quite specific: it is not simply about setting a target without thinking about how you get there.

We cannot set a target that is not achievable. If people respond by asking, “What is the point in even trying?” that means that it is not achievable, and Governments in future will simply shrug their shoulders and say that they cannot be blamed for not meeting those targets, because they were simply not achievable.

11:00  



I think that Lord Deben indicated to the committee that there is a degree of judgment around this. If it is financially possible, there is a technological pointer or they can put together a way of getting there that does not require what is in effect a leap in the dark, that is an achievable pathway. That is all that we are looking for. We cannot get absolute certainty, so we are looking for something that we can present to people, in practical terms, as how we get from here to there, what we need to do and what we need to be thinking. That is the achievability issue.

Mark Ruskell

Let us say that we set an ambitious target, far north of what is in the bill, and that we came close to achieving it, but did not actually achieve it. Would there be any advantages to society as a result of taking that pathway and trying to meet the target? Would we have sent out any positive signals to business or innovators?

Roseanna Cunningham

I would need to know what you were talking about in terms of getting there. Presently, we do not have a pathway. I remind everybody that the Committee on Climate Change’s advice is that 90 per cent is at the very “limits of feasibility”. I very much hope that nobody here thinks that a Government should act in a way that is not feasible. We are asking the Committee on Climate Change to update its advice two years down the line and consider whether it thinks that there is a feasible way of doing it. If there is, we will do it that way.

Mark Ruskell

Do you see any feedback in terms of innovation? By setting a net zero target, you would send out a signal for those who want to innovate—

Roseanna Cunningham

Innovation is happening across the board now and the target sits at 80 per cent. I am not sure that an argument about this particular target will necessarily drive innovation any faster than it is already being driven.

Mark Ruskell

Why was achievability not a major factor in the 2009 bill, but it is in this bill?

Roseanna Cunningham

I am sure that it was a major factor in the discussions at the time. The reality is that, as part of the 2009 bill, there was a lot of discussion about targets. I seem to remember—I may be wrong because I did not do the 2009 bill—there being a choice of two targets and that we went for the higher target.

Sara Grainger

The term “achievable” is in the 2009 act.

Roseanna Cunningham

There you go. At the end of the day, achievability ought not to have to be in legislation. Are we seriously arguing that a Government and a Parliament should be legislating on things that they do not think are achievable? That would be an astonishing position to be in. Achievability ought to underpin just about everything that we do without having to be legislated for.

Achievability was part of the discussion in relation to the 2009 act and it is a discussion now. That discussion is driven by the advice that we have had that, at the moment, the net zero target is not achievable because a pathway to it cannot be seen. That is why we are having the discussion in the terms that we are.

Every piece of Government legislation and every Government policy has to be predicated on achievability. It is not a game.

Mark Ruskell

It is physically impossible to meet a net zero target.

Roseanna Cunningham

No. You can go on twisting my words if you want, but you know perfectly well that that is not what I am saying.

Mark Ruskell

It was a question.

Claudia Beamish

It was a question.

The Convener

I will come in here. A couple of people from whom we have heard, including Lord Deben and, I think, Andy Kerr from ClimateXChange, warned against or were critical of other Governments that have been virtue signalling. If you put out something and say that you will do X, but, as you say, you are not looking behind that at what is achievable, what impact could that have?

Roseanna Cunningham

I cannot speak for everybody’s targets and policy statements. All that I can keep saying is that a lot of Governments make high-level calls, but they are not legislating or being held to account for them; in many cases, they will certainly not be held to account in the next 10, 15 or 20 years. A lot of expectation is loaded into a presumption that somewhere around 2035 or 2040 we will have amazing technological changes that will make all this doable.

In the circumstances in which that does not come through, the difficulty and danger is that ordinary people and businesses will default to saying, “What is the point of this, if it is not achievable?” I would rather talk in terms of achievability, credibility and realistic expectations—as we are doing—and push further only when we know that everything is locked into place. If the UK Committee on Climate Change advises us that a net zero target is now feasible, in March, April, May or whenever, we will do it. We may be talking about the difference between where the Government is currently with legislation and where it might choose to make amendments in just a few months’ time. We are in danger of angels dancing on the head of a pin.

Stewart Stevenson

Is achievability also about avoiding things that will not contribute to achievability? I go back to the Northern Ireland renewable heat initiative, which has made things worse for climate change and cost £0.5 billion. When we conclude whether something is achievable, we have to look at the risks—if they are serious, the danger if the thing is not achieved is that it will waste money and take us in the wrong direction.

Roseanna Cunningham

Indeed, and we have had conversations this morning around that. To a certain extent, we have to be able to make the best decision that we can with the evidence that we have. We cannot foresee the unforeseeable. I do not know whether the renewable heat initiative in Northern Ireland was specifically targeted to climate change emissions reductions. I guess that they thought reductions would be a good benefit from it, but it is an example of what can happen if something goes badly wrong.

On the other hand, we have to avoid the danger of paralysis in some areas. We will continually have to make decisions about a balance of advantage and disadvantage, and there is absolutely no doubt that we have to go forward. We could end up in paralysis if all we do is constantly look at risks—they are in almost everything that we do, because everything that we do in life carries risk. The issue is about best evidence, realism, credibility and making decisions that can be justified; if there are disadvantages, they can be worked off against the advantages and balanced in that way.

Angus MacDonald

I will go back to use of carbon credits. Under what circumstances might they be used, for example, to achieve net zero? Given that their availability and cost are likely to be prohibitive from the 2040s onwards, why is their use being retained?

Roseanna Cunningham

I cannot imagine that carbon credits will ever be used and the bill in effect establishes a new default position, such that we cannot use credits to help to meet a target. However, if in the future it were to be thought that credits should be allowed, we would have to go back to Parliament and go through a process in order for that to happen. We are not really expecting that. Under the bill, credits could not be used to meet targets without our introducing a statutory instrument that would be subject to affirmative procedure.

Even with a non-zero limit, credits cannot represent more than 20 per cent of a year-on-year change in emissions—but the cost rules that out, from Scotland’s perspective. If we were to use credits to make up the gap, particularly with the net zero emissions target to which we do not yet have a pathway, we would be talking about £15 billion over the period to 2050. Our Scottish budget could not possibly support that, and the money would have to be found from right across the Scottish Government.

I do not see the point of carbon credits. The question goes back to the decision about offshoring: we would, in effect, just be letting somebody else reduce emissions on our behalf. We would be banking the good feeling from having achieved our targets without having done anything at all for global emissions reductions. Carbon credits are a bit of a red herring in all this.

Angus MacDonald

I will continue on that red-herring theme. You mentioned the 20 per cent limit. How was that decided on? What analysis was done to arrive at that figure?

Roseanna Cunningham

You will need to ask the Labour Party that question because it was a Labour amendment to the 2009 legislation that introduced that. I am not sure what the thinking was. In fairness, I note that I do not think that Claudia Beamish was here, then.

Claudia Beamish

No.

Roseanna Cunningham

I suspect that we accepted the amendment in the spirit of trying to give something. There was no detailed Government analysis, although there was a determination not to use the limit, so accepting the amendment would not have been an issue.

Angus MacDonald

On inventory revisions, we had a response from the bill team a while back that said that

“a fundamental change in the scope of future inventories”

is expected due to the incorporation of

“new emission factors and categories of peatland condition”

being

“likely to substantially increase emissions from LULUCF in Scotland.”

Will inventory revisions make targets easier or harder to meet? For example, by how much will inclusion of peatland emissions increase emissions from the LULUCF sector? What has been done to mitigate those emissions?

Roseanna Cunningham

Inventory revisions are completely out of our control because they are driven by changes in the science and in measurement. They can help in one year and hinder in another. They are quite volatile, which is one of the reasons why quite a lot of countries do not include LULUCF in their emissions stats. The decision was made in Scotland to include inventory revisions, but that means that we are subject to that volatility, which can be year on year.

We know that some major revisions are coming down the track. We have not seen the detail, however: I understand that the UK Government has a report that it is not sharing it with us, although we know that it will be pretty significant.

The revisions are a particular issue for us because we have our annual targets. Revisions can have different impacts from year to year, so we are, for that reason, not proposing to change our annual targets. However, we must have a way of managing inventory revisions.

About 18 months ago, there was a period when we thought that the bill would end up being subsumed by the argument about inventory revisions, but the work that we have done with stakeholders and everybody else behind the scenes to bottom out the impacts has meant that we have come to what we consider to be a reasonable conclusion.

There is a lot of uncertainty about the amount that we are talking about and—as I said—we have not seen the detail of the UK Government report. Scotland has about two thirds of the UK’s peatlands, but accounts for only about one third of peatland emissions. We think that the impact on Scotland could be about 6 megatonnes of CO2, which is about 10 per cent of the inventory. That would increase emissions by 4 to 5 percentage points. You can see that the impact will be quite significant if we do not manage emissions better.

We must remember that this is nothing to do with domestic effort. The inventory revisions result from changes in measurements, in the science and in understanding. That will continue to be the case, particularly in the LULUCF sector. There was a year when we benefited from inventory revisions relating to forestry because a way was found of counting smaller parts of woodland cover than had originally been included in the statistics. That was a measurement change as opposed to a science change—although, I suppose, measurement is also science. That all happens at a level way above us.

11:15  



Mark Ruskell

Further to that, is work being done on how we measure emissions from agriculture? Obviously there are, other than production, many things that agricultural holdings do, including renewable energy production and agroforestry. Will they address the difficulties that agriculture has in reducing its emissions to zero, which we talked about earlier?

Roseanna Cunningham

It is fair to say that there is a bit of a grumble in the agriculture sector about the fact that it does not get credit for many of the things that it is doing because those achievements are assigned to other sectors. We need to acknowledge that farmers do much more than appears to be the case. Work is on-going in the industry and the scientific community on the potential for reducing emissions in agriculture, and we are talking to the sector about how we might better reflect its achievements. There is a conversation to be had about what we can do better in the food-production side, but there is also a question about how we assign emissions reductions sector by sector.

Sara Grainger

Exactly. It is difficult to look at the inventory and say who is responsible for which emissions reduction in which sector. An error that people commonly, and understandably, make is to think that the statistics on the agriculture sector reflect everything that farmers do. There is a big difference between everything else that farmers do and agriculture: they do an awful lot to reduce emissions that is captured in other sectors—for example, power generation, which is all captured in the inventory but not under the agriculture heading. Perhaps when we talk about the statistics, we need to make it clear that “agriculture” does not mean everything that farmers and landowners do.

Roseanna Cunningham

We should remember that we are using an international set of standards for greenhouse gas emissions, and what we count for agriculture is part of that. There is perhaps an opportunity for us, even though it is not part of the greenhouse gas statistics every year, to do a calculation that shows what agriculture is delivering, on the understanding that that cannot be used as a replacement for what appears in the greenhouse gas emissions stats, which measure a very specific thing, as opposed to wider matters.

Agriculture is not the only sector that is affected in that way. The building sector is similarly affected: some of the work that it does will be assigned to the energy sector rather than to the building sector. The situation is not straightforward in any sector.

Finlay Carson

We have touched on the fact that peatlands and agriculture have important parts to play. I would like to get something on the record in that regard. We know that climate change has no national boundaries. How are you engaging with the UK Government on how the whole UK can make advances?

Roseanna Cunningham

I try to engage as much as possible, but sometimes that is a little one-sided.

John Scott

I have a series of questions on the TIMES model and the cost estimate of £13 billion in the financial memorandum.

Roseanna Cunningham

This is the science bit.

John Scott

This is the actuality bit.

Emissions pathways in non-energy sectors, including land-use change, waste and parts of agriculture, were not updated in moving from an 80 per cent target to a 90 per cent target in the TIMES modelling. Why were those emissions pathways not updated?

Roseanna Cunningham

The short answer is that we considered those areas to be already at a point at which we could not see a pathway beyond that. That is not to say that the position will not change in the future. However, at present we feel that if we were to update the pathways further, we would be out in a canoe without paddles. When it comes to doing the TIMES modelling runs, that would not make sense.

Simon Fuller might want to expand on my very non-scientific answer.

Simon Fuller (Scottish Government)

Absolutely. In the TIMES framework and the associated modelling, we try to look at the lowest-cost option for moving from 80 per cent to 90 per cent reduction. Although there are options for increasing emissions reductions in all sectors, the most cost-effective way to proceed that we could identify was to focus primarily on industry, surface transport and, to an extent, buildings and property. That is the basis on which the modelling that fed into the financial memorandum was done.

John Scott

I see.

As far as confidence in the estimated cost of £13 billion is concerned, we have a variety of figures in front of us, which, to be frank, I do not fully understand. The cost of achieving a 90 per cent reduction is said to be £13 billion, but that figure is unadjusted for inflation. If the cost is adjusted for inflation, it goes up to £25 billion. If the figure is adjusted for inflation and the impact of discounting is removed, the estimated cost of moving to a 90 per cent target is £59 billion. Which figure should we use? I appreciate that Mr Fuller says that we are trying to achieve the least-cost way of getting to where we want to be, and I fully support that. However, there is a huge range of figures out there, and I would welcome an explanation of what they mean, how they work and how we got to them.

Simon Fuller

The easiest way to do it might be to start with the highest figure and work back. The £59 billion would be the cash outlay—the amount of money that would have to go out the door. We have the figures that are adjusted for inflation and discounting because the cash outlays will occur over a 32-year period. When we spend £1 billion in 2050, the real cost of that is less than £1 billion in today’s prices, because there will be inflation and economic growth in the intervening period. More generally, spending money in the future is easier than spending money today.

The £25 billion figure takes into account the discounting that factors in future economic growth, which obviously affects the affordability of policies. The idea of discounting is standard practice when costs are looked at over a longer timeframe. The discount rates and assumptions that we use are taken from the Treasury’s green book appraisal guidance, which sets out standard assumptions that should be used when discounting over future years.

The final adjustment that we make is for inflation over a 32-year period, which is quite substantial. We want to strip out the effect of inflation. That leaves us with a figure that provides the most realistic expression of what the cost would be when it is thought about in today’s prices.

John Scott

I would not go so far as to call that “sophistry”, but it sounds like a wonderful way of dressing up the fact that achieving the target will cost £59 billion even if, at today’s prices, it is only £13 billion.

Roseanna Cunningham

Hang on—it is a little unfair to use the term “sophistry” when we are applying a standard practice that all Governments in the UK use. We are not departing from what is considered to be the appropriate way of calculating the cost. To a degree, there has to be built-in uncertainty, because we cannot know for certain. What we are trying to do is use all the tools we have that are understood to be robust. They are the Treasury’s way of calculating costs, so if you are calling it “sophistry”, in effect you are also accusing your own party’s Government of that.

John Scott

I submit. I give in, cabinet secretary. [Laughter.]

Roseanna Cunningham

All that we are doing is what is considered to be established practice. I agree that, although it is sophisticated guesswork, it is guesswork.

John Scott

I will go back to the questions. We should then have absolute confidence, or as much as we can have with all the caveats that the cabinet secretary gave, in the £13 billion figure. From what I have read, the TIMES model has 2,000 variables, and each of those has four different variables, so there are about 8,000 variables. In terms of probability theory, I do not know how that holds together. It must be very sophisticated mathematics to provide absolute confidence in the predictions, with so many variables.

Roseanna Cunningham

I do not think that anybody can have absolute confidence—“absolute” is not a word I would use here. We can have reasonable confidence on the basis of what we are doing and saying now that, to the best of our knowledge, those figures are appropriate. I cannot say for sure that, in 20, 30 or 40 years, people will not be sitting here laughing about that. Everything has to be done on the basis of our best understanding right now, using the appropriate methods that are mandated for use across the whole of the UK, in order to achieve the results. That is the best that I can say, folks.

John Scott

I think that that is all for me to ask—oh gosh, there is more over the page.

Does the £13 billion include consideration of the potential social, economic and environmental benefits of climate mitigation policies, such as benefits to health or biodiversity?

Roseanna Cunningham

No. As I understand it, we have not tried to calculate that side of the equation. I have made the point that there will be other benefits. They might not all be easily quantifiable, but they do exist. There is also an economic benefit. Mark Ruskell asked questions earlier about that. Clearly, there is an economic benefit from the technological change and innovation that is happening and will continue to happen. The last time that we looked at that, it was something like $29 trillion.

Sara Grainger

That is the figure that is available globally.

Roseanna Cunningham

It is available globally. It would be a bit much to expect that to be available in Scotland.

John Scott

I would think so.

Roseanna Cunningham

That figure is no more quantifiable than the other elements. I do not know what the calculation is, but there is a figure and people are thinking about the potential benefits. We have to produce the potential costs. We have done that in the best way we can.

John Scott

Have you done any analysis on the risks and cost benefits of actions to mitigate climate change at different rates from the ones that are proposed?

Sara Grainger

In arriving at the proposal for a 90 per cent target, we conducted a range of impact assessments on the difference between the current target of 80 per cent and a 90 per cent target. I will not list them, but there was a good handful. We set out various costs, benefits and risks. On the difference between the 90 per cent target and the net zero target, we set out as best we could in the analysis paper that we published alongside the bill what we thought the risks and the different ways to achieve the target were.

To summarise briefly, the primary benefits of tackling climate change as quickly as is feasible include being at the forefront of the global shift to carbon neutrality and getting a good share of the figure for technological change and innovation that the cabinet secretary mentioned. As all countries move to carbon neutrality, there will be good markets for those technologies and skills. By being at the forefront, Scotland can capitalise on that very successfully. There are also all the health co-benefits, such as clean air and more active travel.

There are social risks, though, and risks around interactions with other policies. For example, if we try to go too far too fast, there are risks to fuel poverty. The interaction between reducing emissions and reducing fuel poverty is very finely balanced. If we try to do one too fast, we will damage the other. That is one of the major risks that we looked at.

11:30  



John Scott

Will you explain that a bit more? The Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse, said that in a statement last week, but I do not fully understand the risks of moving forward more quickly on the targets and reducing heat loss.

Sara Grainger

Increasing the energy efficiency of a building does not increase greenhouse gas emissions. There is a different kind of risk there, which relates to whether Scotland can get the economic benefits from the supply chain, which I am much less familiar with.

I will oversimplify this but, on the issue of moving to lower use of carbon fuels to heat homes, fossil-fuel heating is currently cheaper than low-carbon heating. If we push really fast to reduce emissions, we will push people to use more expensive fuels, which will increase fuel poverty. The same applies vice versa: if we push quite hard to reduce fuel poverty, more people will use more fuel fossil-fuel heating and emissions will increase. There is a fine balance there, and we have to try to achieve both through a carefully calibrated, steady approach.

John Scott

If I have understood you, you are saying that you expect the cost of fuel that is produced with fewer carbon emissions to come down, which is why you are prepared to wait a little longer to get to that point and push for those improvements.

Sara Grainger

Yes.

The Convener

I am afraid that we have run out of time. I thank the cabinet secretary and her officials for all their evidence this morning.

11:32 Meeting suspended.  



11:38 On resuming—  



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19 June 2018

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30 October 2018

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6 November 2018

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13 November 2018

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15 November 2018

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20 November 2018

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27 November 2018

Committee findings

What is secondary legislation?

Secondary legislation is sometimes called 'subordinate' or 'delegated' legislation. It can be used to:

  • bring a section or sections of a law that’s already been passed into force
  • give details of how a law will be applied
  • make changes to the law without a new Act having to be passed

An Act is a Bill that’s been approved by Parliament and been given Royal Assent (formally approved).

Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee's Stage 1 report

This report was published on 4 March 2019.