Climate Action

Scotland’s new emissions target urges a rethink in plans to cut aviation taxes

In a bid to step up efforts to reduce carbon emissions, Nicola Sturgeon, Leader of the SNP, confirms that the Scottish government will have to rethink plans to cut air travel taxes.

  • 03 May 2019
  • Camilla Watkiss

In a bid to step up efforts to reduce carbon emissions, Nicola Sturgeon, Leader of the SNP, confirms that the Scottish government will have to rethink plans to cut air travel taxes.

After accepting a target from the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to achieve net-zero emissions over the next 25 years Scotland’s first minister said the country will need to dramatically increase its efforts.

At the Scottish National Party conference on Sunday, Sturgeon revealed her acceptance of the world’s climate emergency. On Thursday, the government tabled amendments to its environment bill in order to set legally binding targets to reach net-zero emissions.

The chief executive of the CCC, Chris Stark, said Sturgeon needed to drop her plan to cut air departure tax from Scottish airports, because it would drive up emissions from aviation.

After initially deflecting criticisms from the Scottish Labour Party and the Scottish Greens surrounding the aviation tax cut that would “mostly benefit the richest […] and drive up emissions” the first minister has now revealed that the policy will be reviewed. “The increase in our scale of ambition today means we will need to reconsider policies across the whole range of our responsibilities,” she said. “All of us recognise we have to do more and we have to do it quickly.”

Carbon emissions in Scotland have fallen by almost 50% since the 1990s. This has been a result of the closure of coal-fired power stations and the support for windfarms, which are subsidised by a levy on household energy bills across the UK. The Scottish government has also invested heavily in electrification and new trains which has increased electric car use and rail travel. The government has set a new target to phase out new petrol and diesel car sales eight years ahead of the UK, by 2032.

Photograph: Mike McBey