Aviation demand in Scotland needs to fall by one third by 2030 to hit climate aims
The SNP Transport Minister Graeme Dey has demanded “radical behavioural change” in Scots’ transport choices – amid a warning that journeys by both plane and car will need to be permanently cut to end the country’s contribution to the climate crisis. There will need to be a significant reduction in demand for air travel, and technology alone will not achieve the transformational change required. There needs to be a reduction of 33% in the number flight kilometres travelled, between the number in 2019 and 2030. Transport is Scotland’s biggest contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, but there is little progress in making cuts. The SNP government has pledged to cut GHG emissions by 75% by 2030 and to become carbon “net zero” by 2045 (5 years ahead of the UK). An independent report, by consultancy Element Energy, says transformational change in individual and business behaviour, alongside shifting travel choices will be needed as well as advances in technology. The SNP Government has been told to rip up its contract with Heathrow which supports it building a 3rd runway, in light of the findings.
‘Radical change’: Aviation demand in Scotland needs to fall by one third by 2030 to hit climate aims
23rd September 2021
By David Bol @mrdavidbol Political Correspondent (The Herald)
AN SNP minister has demanded “radical behavioural change” in Scots’ transport choices – amid a warning that journeys by both plane and car will need to be permanently cut to end the country’s contribution to the climate crisis.
The stark intervention from Transport Minister Graeme Dey comes after a new report on decarbonising the transport sector revealed that substantial behaviour change is needed on car travel, regardless of electric vehicles being ramped up – while a significant reduction in demand is needed in aviation.
The SNP Government has been told to rip up its contract with Heathrow which supports expansion of the airport in light of the findings.
Transport is Scotland’s biggest contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, but progress in cutting pollution in the sector since 1990 has stalled.
Scotland has halved its emissions since 1990, but MSPs have pledged to cut them by 75% by 2030 and become carbon net zero by 2045.
Forecasting by the Scottish Government hopes to see transport emissions reduced from 11MtCO2e in 202 to 6.5 MtCO2e by 2028 where it is expected to remain at that level until at least 2032.
An independent report, drawn up by low carbon consultancy Element Energy, sets out that transformational change in individual and business behaviour, alongside shifting travel choices will be needed in tandem with advances in technology.
The document recommendations include substantial behavioural changes in the use of car travel and measures introduced to put people off using motor vehicles such as removing parking spaces. Ministers have also been asked to consider shifting 23% of freight goods currently transported by road to rail and ships by 2030 to mitigate the decreasing costs of electric fuels.
Addressing MSPs in Holyrood, Mr Dey said if Scotland is to stand any chance of meeting its tough emissions targets, it “will require radical behavioural change”.
He added: “We need to start making different choices and behaving differently if we are to meet our 2030 emissions target.
“It will take action across government and across society to reduce the need to travel and promote more sustainable modes of transport.”
Mr Dey bluntly said that “this report is clear – technology alone will not achieve the transformational change required”.
He added: “This parliament voted for world-leading emissions reduction targets. This parliament now has to support the tough choices needed to meet them.”
The research also found that “in order to meet its emission targets domestic and international aviation emissions assign to Scotland need to fall by 33% between 2019 and 2030” meaning a “reduction in total flight kilometres travelled”.
Mr Dey warned that “the scale of the challenge before us” in aviation “means there are no easy solutions”.
He added: “As the research suggests, without a reduction in aviation demand, the transport sector will not be able to achieve its emissions envelop for 2030.
“We will need good direct air connectivity in the future, not least to support inbound tourism and sustainable economic growth. But demand will have to fall – that is the message of this research.
“Decarbonising aviation will be challenging but there are early and encouraging signs of progress.”
Lib Dem MSP Beatrice Wishart has called for the Scottish Government to rethink its support for Heathrow expansion in light of the report.
She said: “After years of missed climate targets and with the emissions from transport unmoved since 1990, now is the moment for the government to rapidly accelerate measures to decarbonise transport – the biggest polluter in Scotland.
“The minister said that demand for aviation should fall if transport is to do its part in meeting Scotland’s climate targets. “Why then does the Scottish Government continue to hold a contract with Heathrow in support of a third runway – a contract designed to deliver 75,000 more flights to Scotland from London and with it, 6,000,000 extra tonnes of emissions?
“Now that the Scottish Government has said that aviation demand must fall, will it cancel that contract?”
But Mr Dey said “there is a balance to be struck here with aviation and the important role it plays in the country’s economy”.
He added: “On the issue of Heathrow, the government is in the process of developing an aviation strategy with all parts of the aviation sector. “We will reflect on everything that goes into that in terms of connectivity and the challenges that poses. We will produce a strategy that will reflect the future needs of Scotland and our need to respond to the climate emergency.”
An Edinburgh Airport spokesperson said: “As the report states, it will be incredibly challenging to decarbonise aviation but that is a challenge the industry welcomes and one it wants to meet.
“Our greater good strategy makes clear our commitment to a more sustainable future, and our chief executive recently proposed ideas for the wider Scottish travel industry to act as a bridge towards our zero carbon future until the technology is available.
“Again, the report states the lack of policy intervention has also resulted in limited progress so we would welcome sight of the Scottish Government’s proposals so we can work together on this very important task.”
SNP must review policy and reject Heathrow expansion’, former minister says – need SNP conference debate on it
The SNP has been asked to change its policy, to now oppose the expansion of Heathrow Airport, due to carbon emissions. Marco Biagi was communities minister until he stood down from the Scottish Parliament in 2016. He wants the SNP to adopt “a presumption against any major airport expansion” at next month’s SNP Conference, which is to be held virtually on 28th to 30th November. After intense lobbying from Heathrow, and suggestions of more routes and more jobs for Scotland if there was a 3rd runway, since 2016 the Scottish Government has officially backed the runway plans. But the SNP finally abstained in the Commons from voting for the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) in June 2018. Mr Biagi said the SNP’s support for the 3rd runway had never been debated at a SNP conference. Aviation CO2 emissions are rising, this is against Scottish policies on climate. He said: “Across Europe there is a growing realisation of the need for alternatives to ever-expanding air travel, especially on short-haul routes like those between Scotland and London. On this issue, do we want to follow the climate-wrecking Conservatives or be part of the European mainstream?”
SNP “promised” 16,000 new jobs if it backs 3rd runway – but that figure is crazily inflated – as Heathrow & DfT well know
The Conservative government may need the SNP’s support if some of its MPs rebel against the new Heathrow runway – which is likely. The SNP will demand guaranteed extra slots for Scottish flights into London in return for the party’s support for the 3rd runway. Ian Blackford, the head of the SNP’s parliamentary group in London, said the party had not taken a decision on runway yet – and would only do so if Scotland stood to benefit. Their backing may not be guaranteed, though that had been assumed – particularly after Keith Brown, Scotland’s infrastructure secretary, believed there might be 16,000 Scottish jobs, created by the project. That figure of 16,000 jobs is what Heathrow has, for several years, been peddling. Along with similarly inflated claims for all the regions. The number was derived by a consultancy called Quod, in a flimsy little 4 page paper, with no methodology, no date, no author etc. It is based on the assumption that Heathrow would provide an economic benefit (NPV) to the UK, over 60 years, of £147 billion. That number is now known to actually be about £3.3 billion, at best (if not a negative number). The SNP would be very ill-advised to believe Scotland will benefit; in reality its airports would be damaged by allowing the runway. Tragic if they vote in favour of it, because they have not checked out the facts properly.