The threat of global warming has never been more apparent, as highlighted by the sobering conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPPC) special report on global warming of 1.5°C. As we have all seen recently, public concern about climate change is growing to unprecedented levels and regardless of views on the merits of school strikes and city protests, the voices being raised reflect the growing intensity and urgency of public debate on this issue.
Although I fully accept that more can always be done, we should all be proud of the UK’s world-leading role in tackling climate change and the transition to clean growth.
Since 1990, we have now cut emissions by 42 per cent while growing the economy by over 72 per cent and an independent assessment by PWC shows that the UK has decarbonised its economy at the fastest rate of G20 countries since 2000. More than half of the UK’s electricity was generated from low-carbon sources last year, the highest ever share, and I am proud that Scotland has played a leading role in this with its huge capacity for renewable energy. Across the UK, we has the largest installed offshore wind capacity in the world thanks to our sustained investment in this crucial technology. Our renewable energy sector is such a success that by 2025 coal power production will be completely phased out.
Of course, the UK is only a small part of global emissions and that’s why the UK Government are providing at least £5.8 billion in international climate finance from 2016 to 2020 to help developing countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
That said, we must do more, and that is why the Government is introducing a legally binding net zero target to end the UK's contribution to global warming entirely by 2050. In Scotland, this should be complete by 2045 due to the higher concentration of trees. The foundations to achieve this have been laid and it is expected that other major economies will follow suit.