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Chamber and committees

Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee

Meeting date: Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Agenda: Decision on Taking Business in Private, Salmon Farming Environmental Impacts Inquiry, Draft Climate Change Plan (RPP3)


Contents


Draft Climate Change Plan (RPP3)

The Convener

We will now take evidence on the Scottish Government’s draft climate change plan, the third report on policies and proposals. I welcome, from the Scottish Government, Chris Stark, the director of energy and climate change, Clare Hamilton, the deputy director and head of decarbonisation, and Michael King, the head of the energy and climate change unit. I apologise for the delay.

What specific changes might be made to the plan as a result of stakeholder engagement since the publication of the draft plan?

Chris Stark (Scottish Government)

I am happy to answer that question but, first, I would like to make a short detour by explaining what has happened since January 2017.

Since the draft plan was published in January 2017, we have done an awful lot of work. Indeed, I came before the committee to talk about that work previously. In February, the committee will see the product of all that work—I hope that you like it. There are four aspects to that work, of which stakeholder involvement is one.

We have been through an extraordinary amount of scrutiny. On top of that, we have done a lot of work with stakeholders in each of the sectors and on the plan itself, which I will talk about in a moment. In addition, we have developed our model—Mike King is the architect of that—and have made several revisions to the data so that we are more accurate in the way that we view the future. We have also introduced some new measures, and that is where there is the biggest interaction with stakeholders.

There is a good story about how much we have done, over the past 12 months, to amend, consider and respond. That has included our work with stakeholders. A heck of a lot has been done both by my team and by the sector teams that work with each sector in the climate change plan.

I can give the committee a few highlights. We have worked extensively with the public sector—I know that the committee has been interested in that. The cabinet secretary and I have done various things to work with several parts of the public sector to understand their views. We can also draw in a couple of examples of where we have done some deeper stakeholder work. I am sure that, many times in today’s meeting, we will refer to the plan on energy efficiency that we are bringing together this year. That plan has been informed by several stakeholder sessions that we have held. We are in the midst of putting in the final details of what I hope will be a 20-year plan to improve the energy efficiency of the building stock in Scotland. That plan has been greatly influenced by industry stakeholders, in particular.

I also draw members’ attention to the transport work. That is an area in which we have responded to the views of the committee, in particular, in setting new policies in the programme for Government around ultra-low-emission vehicles—ULEVs—active travel and low-emission zones.

All those things are the product of deep stakeholder engagement, of which I am personally quite proud.

The Convener

What specific examples can you give us of changes? Let us go beyond the stakeholders and look at the criticisms that the parliamentary committees made of the original draft plan. What changes have been made directly as a consequence of that commentary?

Chris Stark

I should probably preface my comments by saying that I cannot reveal the final plan, as you would expect. That is coming in February. However, I will do my best to tell you as much as I can about it.

There were two areas where we felt that it was particularly important to respond. One was carbon capture and storage—I might add biofuels to that—and the other was the criticism that we received of what can be described as a highly ambitious projection for decarbonised heat. We have worked really hard to amend that in the final plan, and my team feels that the work that we have done, especially with transport, helps us to address the legitimate criticism of that decarbonised heat run. I might also agree that our projections for CCS—particularly for negative emissions—were highly ambitious. We have been able to amend those things, and you will see in the final plan that those changes are a direct product of the scrutiny and criticism that we received at the time.

Without giving the committee details about how we have responded, I can say that those are areas in which you can look forward to seeing quite a different plan in the future.

Okay. Let us move on to the monitoring and evaluation framework.

Kate Forbes

You spoke about the impact that stakeholder engagement has had on the draft plan. How has the Scottish Government engaged with stakeholders, including the UK Committee on Climate Change, to develop the monitoring and evaluation framework?

Chris Stark

I do not mind saying that, when we published the draft plan in January 2017, that area was not as fully fleshed out as I had hoped it would be. We have done a lot of work on monitoring and evaluation, and we will continue to do that work.

We have done some advance work to show the UKCCC how we are planning to develop the framework for monitoring and evaluation. We did that by going to that committee early and demonstrating, particularly with the electricity sector, how we might set some metrics and, crucially, how we would properly embed them in the plan and in the policies that sit in the plan for each of the sectors.

In February, when we produce the final plan, I hope that you will see a well-embedded set of metrics that will allow you to monitor and evaluate how we are doing in the future. That is very much an on-going process. I have mentioned the energy efficiency plan that we are bringing together, and the current assumption is that, when we produce the final plan, we will do something in May to launch the final energy efficiency plan.

Alongside developing a policy, we will consider how we will measure it. In each sector, there is a live process of considering ways in which we can track progress against the things that we say are important. In the future, we will do that by producing an annual report, which we plan to do in October this year.

It is difficult to talk about how each of those things will look until the committee sees the plan itself. However, we have a good set of metrics and they are timely, so the committee will be able to see, on most occasions and in most sectors, when we are off track and when we are on track. You will be able to track that annually, at least, and I am sure that the committee will be interested in doing that in the future.

The process is on-going and, in that sense, there is a role for the committee in defining how members want to scrutinise those measures. I am sure that you will want to return to that once you have seen the final plan.

Again, there has been a stakeholder process alongside these things; therefore, we think that the metrics and forms of evaluation will mean something to each of the key stakeholders in each of the sectors. I hope that the process is live in the sense that we do not set these metrics and then let them go. As the proposals and policies in those sectors develop, we will develop the monitoring and evaluation framework. The plan is a very live thing, but I think that you will be happier in February, when you see that the framework has improved since we spoke last year.

12:00  

You suggested that you would publish the annual report in October this year. Is that the intended timing for future years? That would sit relatively well with the timing of the budget.

Chris Stark

That is our intention, but, if you would prefer a different arrangement, I am sure that we could accommodate that.

The committee can reflect on that.

John Scott will now ask about emission envelopes and ambitions.

John Scott

I am pleased to hear that you have been interacting with stakeholders in developing the draft plan. I again declare my interest as a farmer. What progress have you made on the level of ambition for emission reductions in the transport and agriculture sectors? I would be grateful if you could tell us a little about that, although I appreciate that what you can tell us might be limited.

Chris Stark

I mentioned the four ways in which we have been amending the plan. You have picked out two of the sectors in which the product of that work is probably evident. When it comes to transport, I do not mind saying that we will have greater ambition—that is written into the programme for government—and a great deal of that is climate led. Our programme on transport has responded to the criticism that we received on the draft plan, and I hope that, once the plan is published, you will see greater ambition in the transport sector.

Are there any specific areas that you want to comment on?

Chris Stark

I do not mind drawing out the measures that have been published. I will deal with the three issues on transport as I see them. There is the active travel package, which I think is one of the biggest things that we have done. The headline-grabbing item was the commitment on ULEVs, which is eight years in advance of a similar commitment by the United Kingdom Government. In addition, there are low-emission zones, which are probably one of our primary routes to achieving the goals that we want to achieve in transport.

That amounts to quite an ambitious package on transport, although it is worth saying that there was already quite an ambitious package on transport. It is not in any sense the case that what we published last year was weak; I just felt that there was more that we could do. I am pleased that we have done more, and you will see that reflected in the plan.

On agriculture, there is a more interesting story to tell. In each of the sectors, as we have refined our analysis, we have come to understand better how we need to approach the climate objectives that we have set for ourselves. We have obtained a greater understanding of how difficult it is to make progress in agriculture and land use. I am keen not to leave the committee with the impression that we have stepped back in our ambition on agriculture, but we have understood that it is harder to make progress there. Without revealing exactly what is in the plan, I can say that you will see that in the plan, too.

John Scott

We have discovered, through our budget scrutiny, that there is a need for greater dissemination of information from our esteemed science community, which has some of the solutions. The dissemination of such knowledge to rural communities needs to be better developed. I am a great believer in the use of the carrot rather than the stick, but I think that there is a lack of awareness in rural communities that the Government is immensely keen on the use of such information. That message needs to be conveyed more effectively than it has been thus far.

Chris Stark

I agree with that. I return to the point that we now have a better understanding of the challenges that are faced in agriculture. As a sector, agriculture is doing very well from the point of view of its carbon absorption and, indeed, its emissions. The 2015 statistics show that agriculture emissions have come down by more than 25 per cent from baseline levels. There is a nice trend there, which we would like to continue. However, it is a more difficult sector to decarbonise, and attitudes in the agriculture sector matter immensely to that. I agree that there is more that we can do with the sector to make Government priorities known.

John Scott

There is an enormous level of ingenuity in that sector. If It becomes the mindset of practising farmers and those involved in the industry that that is something that everyone wants to achieve, subconsciously that will have an effect over the long term.

Chris Stark

We occasionally talk about co-benefits, which is not a very accessible term. There are benefits in every sector to addressing climate change, and they vary. For example, developing a low-carbon agricultural sector is also a means to seeing that sector continue to thrive in the future. Those are the arguments that we need to make more strongly.

You do not believe that the two are incompatible.

Chris Stark

No.

Mark Ruskell

I want to ask about transport. The original plan was predicated on an increase of about 27 per cent in the number of vehicle miles. That obviously makes a big difference to the plan. On 5 December, when Humza Yousaf was in front of the committee, giving evidence on air quality, he said:

“we do not predicate our approach on increasing traffic”.

He went on to say:

“It would certainly give me concern if local transport strategies were predicated on increasing the number of car journeys.”—[Official Report, Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, 5 December 2017; c 15.]

What will the final climate plan be predicated on?

Chris Stark

We draw on the work of my colleagues in transport, who have a well-developed—probably the most developed—method of appraising projects that involves using what is called the transport model. It has within it a set of assumptions. We have not tried to change those assumptions, although, if we are successful in implementing the active travel package, I would expect the assumptions to change in the future. You will see that.

Mark Ruskell

The transport minister has said that you do not predicate your approach to air quality on increasing traffic, but you are saying that the approach in the climate plan is still predicated on increasing levels of traffic. Do you see that as a bit of a mismatch?

Chris Stark

No. There is a set of assumptions contained within the modelling that is done by transport colleagues, which we are happy to adopt, and they are not predictive.

Which set of assumptions—assumptions that there is going to be an increase in traffic or assumptions that there is not?

Chris Stark

I do not know the specifics. I am sorry.

We do not have a separate climate model for transport; we fall in behind how transport colleagues view the future. The assumptions are not designed to be self-fulfilling prophecies, however. I expect that, if we are successful in some of the things that we are trying to do in transport, the assumptions will change. They are exogenous to the model that we use.

Just to be clear, is the minister wrong?

Chris Stark

I make no statement about whether the minister is right or wrong. I do not have the data in front of me.

His statement may contradict the data that is received by your Transport Scotland colleagues in producing the climate plan.

Chris Stark

I would not want you to infer that I am making any judgment about Mr Yousaf’s view of the future. I am explaining how we adopt the transport model for the climate model.

Claudia Beamish

Good morning to you all. I have one brief question on transport and one that is a supplementary to John Scott’s on agriculture.

The committee recommended that, as the transport sector is one of the heaviest emitters, the model should be rerun with more of a focus on active travel. Is it the case that the model was not rerun? I respect the fact that active travel funding has been increased, but I ask for clarification on that point.

Chris Stark

I ask my colleague Mike King to answer that and to explain to the committee how we have approached the transport work over the past twelve months.

Michael King (Scottish Government)

As Chris Stark set out, the transport analysis focuses on a report that was commissioned by Transport Scotland and produced by Element Energy, which set out a pathway for the transport sector. That analysis has been updated since then to take account of the programme for government commitments, and that is the transport analysis that now informs the development of the final plan. That analysis is deemed to be the most up-to-date evidence for how emissions will evolve in the transport sector. We have adopted it into the wider TIMES framework to understand what the impacts are for all the sectors in the TIMES model and framework. That is the approach that we have taken to transport modelling.

Claudia Beamish

In layperson’s terms—I am sure that I will never understand the TIMES model—does that mean that the Government’s active travel commitments and the budget increase in the programme for government have now been included in your deliberations?

Chris Stark

Yes.

Claudia Beamish

I want to follow on from John Scott’s earlier question. I respect his views as a farmer, but I highlight that agriculture, along with transport and housing, are the heaviest emitters. Is there a place for some compulsory focus as well as voluntary support, which is—I agree with my colleague on this—very important? That might be difficult in agriculture, which is more diffuse, but a number of compulsory arrangements are being developed in transport. They are in part to do with pollution, but they are also to do with climate change, congestion and other issues. Can we have a comment on that, please?

Chris Stark

I do not feel that I am equipped to make a judgment on the most appropriate policy measures, but I am content with what is in the plan.

You have already made a comment on agriculture, and there is some agreement between you and John Scott. I am asking for your comment on the other side of the coin—on compulsion.

Chris Stark

I acknowledge that it is important that we take food producers and farmers with us in the process. We have discussed the many reasons why that is a good idea. I would love to have said exactly what is in the plan, but I think that you will know a great deal of it.

I am not asking about that.

Chris Stark

Exactly. I suppose that the right way to answer your question is to say that we will monitor progress against the goals that we have set in the plan. Again, that is when the monitoring and evaluation framework will come in. If we are not on track, we will re-evaluate our approach.

You are right to raise the transport example. That is where we have built a good evidence base to do the things that we are doing.

I think that the agricultural work is good and that, in the future, we will see the extent to which the trend that we have already seen is maintained. If an element of greater compulsion is required and the evidence supports that, we can return to that and re-evaluate our approach.

Are you aware that our predecessor committee in the previous session was concerned that it was perhaps time for more compulsion? I highlight that point.

Chris Stark

Yes. That is noted.

The Convener

I want to clarify something; I hope that you will be able to answer this. The elements of the programme for government that address transport have the potential to facilitate considerable improvement in the performance of that sector. Does that take the overall plan to a more ambitious place, or has there been rollback in any other sectors that would mean that, in effect, the plan is neutral in terms of performance?

Chris Stark

Those are certainly not terms that I recognise. I would not use them.

We have readjusted between the sectors. For example, to address the legitimate criticism that our projections on heat decarbonisation were very ambitious, we have made the plan more realistic. One way that we can do that is by being more ambitious in some sectors than we were in January 2017. Transport is one of those sectors.

We will need to be incredibly successful in rolling out the plan if we are to meet our targets—even those that we have now. I believe that we will be, but the harder that we make this by having a harder headline target, the more we will need to focus on making it a success. That requires us to be conscious of how much ambition we have in every sector.

My ambition is that we overshoot wherever possible, and you will see that in the plan.

12:15  

The Convener

To be clear, you are saying that there will be changes that might bring about a raised eyebrow, but they are based on an outbreak of realism, as opposed to just deciding that something would probably be too difficult to do.

Chris Stark

Definitely. That is a very good way of characterising it.

Let us move on to policies, proposals and assumptions.

Angus MacDonald

This has partly been covered. It is clear that everyone needs a plan B. Our committee report last March recommended the inclusion of a plan B when particular assumptions have been made that might prove to be unfounded, particularly in the case of CCS, which you mentioned. For clarification, have you produced any plan B time scenarios should any of the significant assumptions that are made in the plan—such as, for example, on the reliance on CCS—fail to be deliverable?

Chris Stark

It might be worth saying a bit more about CCS, as I know that it has been of interest to the committee. That is another area in which the committee will see a change. I have already referred to that.

Without saying specifically what is in the plan, I do not mind telling you that we are not projecting CCS before 2030, so the plan that we will publish is in effect without CCS. However, it remains essential to the future. The effort that we have made during the past 12 years to maintain CCS as an option with the funds and resources available to us in the Scottish Government is to ensure that we have that option available to us. We are very pro CCS.

You will not be surprised to hear me say that I am unhappy with referring to a plan B. The plan still has CCS in it, albeit that there is a set of projections that do not rely on it. That is the best way to describe it.

There are other areas in which we are changing the plan. However, it is a plan: I want to be clear on that. It is the Government’s plan. We have thought a lot about scenarios and presenting them in different ways, and we think that the best way of going about it is to make a single plan and to open ourselves up to scrutiny. As I have said to the committee previously, one of the ways in which we will do that is by putting the model out, allowing others to do the inquisition that allows them to produce some of the scenarios that the committee has asked for in the past, and using that as a basis for discussing future iterations of the plan.

The committee will see a single plan, which will be a plan A, albeit an amended version of the one that was published in January last year.

Finlay Carson

We have already touched on agriculture. Does the plan refer to any specific requirements regarding soil testing?

The lack of information on blue carbon was commented on earlier. Is there any mention of the potential of blue carbon in the plan?

Chris Stark

I am happy to report that blue carbon will be a part of the plan. That is a really good story of the scrutiny that the process has put us under. I am quite excited by some of the things that are happening in blue carbon.

Although you will find blue carbon in the plan, it is not yet part of the greenhouse gas emissions inventory. You will see a plan for that to be the case in future, and Scotland should be in the lead on that, given all the advantages that might come from having blue carbon as part of our inventory.

On soil testing and how compulsory it is, I am afraid that you will have to wait until February to read the plan. I go back to the story about the agriculture sector more generally. The elements of compulsion have been subject to a great deal of scrutiny in this committee and in others, and there has been an active internal process that has led to the set of policies that you will see in the final plan.

The Convener

We will look at that with interest.

Let us develop the theme of realism. Given that the funding that is available in the draft Scottish budget for peatland restoration is considerably less than that in the current budget, has the draft plan target to double planned peatland restoration been reduced?

Chris Stark

You will, of course, have to wait until we publish the plan, but the—

God loves a trier.

Chris Stark

Indeed.

The other thing to say is that we are still actively discussing some of those things. I do not want to be too dismissive of the question, because on some issues we are still doing our best to resolve the final plan. I therefore feel comfortable in saying to you that February is the appropriate point at which to talk about those things. It might be enough simply to say that we know that peatland restoration is very important, and we have done the analysis to show how important it is. We have, of course, noted the draft budget and its impact. It is important to say that I am hopeful that peatland restoration will continue to be funded in the way that I am sure the committee would like it to be. The budget is part of that planning, and I am sure that there will be future iterations of budgets.

We would also like it to be funded in a way that is capable of delivering on a doubling of the target.

Chris Stark

Well, you will have to wait to see the target, will you not? However, I note your interest.

It is a very strong interest. I of course recognise the issues around the budget. Last year, some of the sums were drawn down from other sources.

Chris Stark

They were.

There is a legitimate issue here. Obviously, peatland restoration is an important contributor to our performance.

Chris Stark

I am desperate not to be slippery. Peatland restoration is very important, and it is remarkable how big the impact will be in future years. Far be it from me to try to direct the committee, but that is one area in which co-benefits are really important. There are a number of reasons for pursuing a policy of peatland restoration, and we will, of course, make that argument internally, as you would expect us to.

That is about issues such as water quality.

Chris Stark

Indeed. Building an industry around those things is another argument.

There are certainly employment opportunities.

Chris Stark

Absolutely.

Let us explore behavioural change.

Richard Lyle

Basically, the plan will work only if the public buy into it. Do you agree that changes in behaviour will be needed? In particular, do we propose—you might want to say yes or no on this one—to have a policy of installing solar panels on new build to encourage people to use those, or a policy of installing electric car charging points on new build, so that people can plug in their car, just as they can currently plug in their phone or wi-fi? Alternatively, we could change street furniture to have charging points on it. What are we going to do to encourage the public to change their behaviour?

Chris Stark

I introduce the committee to the concepts of carrots, sticks and tambourines, which are the ways in which we have been considering the future approach.

You have been saving that one up.

Chris Stark

Yes, I have—it is a rhetorical flourish.

I have heard of carrots and sticks, but not along with tambourines.

Chris Stark

In the past—although certainly not on our watch—policy development has been littered with policies that have not met the third of those elements, which is about feeling compelled or wanting to do something. For example, a great deal of work has been done on the green deal, which was a UK policy that did not work as well as intended when it was introduced. I believe passionately that the reason why that policy did not work is that it was principally a financial instrument and it did not have the tambourine element, or the feeling of wishing to do something.

I could not agree more with how Richard Lyle summarised the issue. We will not be successful unless there is a change in behaviour. That requires a deep consideration of the appropriate way in which to change behaviour.

We have been thinking about the concepts of carrots, sticks and tambourines particularly in relation to the energy efficiency programme that I mentioned. That programme will last for at least two decades in order to realise an overall improvement in the quality of the building stock in Scotland as well as the other things that we have included in it. To be successful, we probably need a programme that, for the first ten years, looks more at incentives and, for the second part, looks more at the harder-edge stuff. It is the foresight that will build the industry—knowing that that will come.

You are right to raise those issues, which will be enormously important. How we plan the built environment around us is an area in which we need to be much clearer about the way in which things must change. We must give suitable foresight to allow industry and consumer behaviour to respond.

I am keen on having a better regional or local plan around such things. Written into the DNA of the energy strategy that we published just before Christmas is the idea that we will need better localised planning around the whole energy system—heat, power, transport and the built environment. We need a well-integrated set of localised plans for those things that will cover the issues that you referred to in your question, such as charging points, solar panels on roofs, recovery of waste heat and so on.

There is a grand endeavour over the next two decades that will require everyone to better understand how they fit into the plan. It will require us to have a plan in the central belt that is different from the plan in the Highlands and Islands, for example. Behind all that is the harder-edge set of things, including building standards, regulatory tools and the legislation that we will need to put in place to make it work. However, we cannot do it through those things alone—we will need some tambourines along the way, too.

You will have found the recent announcements by certain house builders that they will voluntarily take a positive approach to electric charging points, and, to a lesser extent, solar panels, encouraging.

Chris Stark

That is exactly what I am talking about. Just the promise of a harder-edge approach is often enough to catalyse change in the market. Do not forget that we are talking about infrastructure, so decades is the correct time horizon. Unless we are planning well now, we cannot expect the industry to respond and nor can we expect consumers to respond in the right way.

Richard Lyle

Many years ago, people never considered having a telephone plug-in point in their house, but now it is standard, as is wi-fi.

When was the last time that you advertised on television to suggest that people should not go out in their cars, but should have a wee walk to the local shop?

Chris Stark

I do not know. It is a perfectly good question. We pursue a set of policies and marketing strategies, including under the banner of greener Scotland. I will go away and find that out forthwith.

You should put it in the plan, alongside the tambourine.

Chris Stark

I agree—we should have tambourines.

You talked about the built environment. Has there been clear discussion about the draft planning bill in relation to the climate change plan and will we be able to see where those fit together?

Chris Stark

In my time in the job, I have learned that, for very good reasons, planning does not move quickly. It is right that it does not move quickly because in making any change to planning, it is important to have a good strategy in place for what you are trying to achieve. We now have that for energy and climate issues. I hope that the planning regime will follow that. That is the right way to do it.

Given the legislation that is under way, will the committee be able to see where there is opportunity under the planning bill to drive such initiatives and developments?

Chris Stark

You will.

Have you been working at that?

Chris Stark

Yes. The planning bill is an important process for us all, but particularly for my department, given the issues that I have just talked about.

I draw your attention to a couple of things. First, there is a second stage consultation around local heat and energy efficiency planning. That is the blueprint for what I have just described. It is a local authority-led approach to local plans around energy efficiency and heat. It is not a great leap to think that we might add transport planning to that, which means that you have an almost full picture of a local plan for all those things. The committee will be able to see that.

I draw your attention to the future revision of the national planning framework, which will be cognisant of the climate change plan and also the energy strategy, which has the right long-term horizon to demonstrate how we can decarbonise our energy system.

12:30  

The NPF and associated Scottish planning policy, alongside the plans for localised heat and energy efficiency and transport, will allow you to see what you want; local and regional plans will be well-integrated in the future, which is the right way to go about it.

Alex Rowley

I look forward to seeing whether that is the case. You spoke about carrot and stick approaches. It is interesting that McDonald’s recently announced its plan to do X, Y and Z in 2030. By then, most of its executives will have moved on. Is there a danger in company after company making big announcements about what they will do in a couple of decades ahead, while they are not doing very much now?

Chris Stark

I recognise that there is definitely a risk, although I regularly see corporate practice change quite dramatically. In recent years, outlooks about investment holdings by organisations such as universities have changed quite dramatically.

I suppose that the right answer to your question is that we need to be active rather than passive about such things. We need long-term plans that every corporate in the Scottish economy wants to follow. The plans need to be developed with the individuals who are in those corporates, as a corporate is not a thing. The right long-term targets and objectives in each sector will give a platform to discuss with the industries in those sectors how to develop the right plans together. I hope that we will overshoot the targets that we have said that we will achieve. That will need a mixture of carrots and sticks; the tambourine is for the corporates that want to do this plan because it is in their commercial interest—in that area, we have not been as strong as we might have been in the past.

For corporates that operate in the Scottish economy, I want to work harder so that they do this plan because it is in their corporate interest and will grow the business, not because it is a corporate social responsibility measure. Our impact on global patterns of climate change is small, but we are doing this plan for an economic reason. If we turn around and decarbonise the Scottish economy, our products and services will sell to the global market as other countries do the same. That principle cannot just sit in a document; we need to work hard to establish corporate attention, daily and weekly. I ask you to hold us to account on that approach.

The climate change bill will bring in new targets for 2020 and 2030. How does the plan address those new targets? Is it sufficient to meet the new targets?

Chris Stark

We put the plans together to meet the current legislation, but we have had the 90 per cent trajectory in mind all along—the people who consider the issues are the same—and there will be a process for the new bill. The bill process has been separate to the formation of this plan, and we will have to bring those two things together later this year when the bill goes through Parliament. We wait to see the targets, which are a central issue. I cannot say here today the extent to which we may need to amend the current plan.

The UKCCC has been through the 90 per cent target with us so that we understand it. It says that 90 per cent is in line with the objectives that were set in Paris, although that target will be extremely challenging, and that the current plan will be just about sufficient if everything goes well. We are looking at that analysis, and I hope that we can do better than that. We may need to revise the plans, but it will depend on the trajectory of future climate emissions.

Mark Ruskell

The First Minister said in Bonn that a net zero carbon target was still being considered, whether that would be set at 2040 or 2050. Various countries are moving down that line, including Germany, Finland and Sweden. Do you see there being a radically different approach if we were to set a net zero carbon target? Would it make a difference to the traffic growth of 27 per cent, for example, or would more fundamental changes be required?

Chris Stark

I will give you my personal view, because I do not think that we have set out the analysis of that. I do see a difference between net zero and a 90 per cent reduction—the plan will need to be on a pretty steep trajectory to get to net zero. Other countries have set that target—people often talk about Sweden, for example—but they have done that in the knowledge that it might mean that they buy international credits. The hallmark of the Scottish plan is that it has been a domestic effort, and that is what I want to keep.

Are you saying that you want to get rid of the provision of carbon credits within Scottish legislation?

Chris Stark

No, I am not saying that. I am saying that I am keen to maintain the hallmark of the Scottish plan, which has been a domestic effort. We are not relying on some of those international mechanisms.

The Convener

I thank the panel for their evidence and take this opportunity to wish Chris Stark well in his new role at the UKCCC. The committee looks forward to engaging with you in that capacity in future. I am sure that you are looking forward to offering the Scottish Government advice on the development of policies that you have brought forward.

Chris Stark

Well, they are a good bunch.

On a point of information, my colleague Claudia Beamish has just asked whether you will still be in your post here until the end of February.

Chris Stark

I will; indeed, my start date has not been arranged yet. It is good to have that on the record. I do not want there to be any implication that I am conflicted in that role. We will work that out, but I wanted the committee to know about it, although the appointment process has not formally completed yet. We will be very careful about the way in which we manage the roles in the coming period.

It is a very good choice on the part of the UKCCC.

Chris Stark

Thank you.

The Convener

At its next meeting on 6 February, the committee will take oral evidence from stakeholders on the Scottish Association for Marine Science Research Services Ltd’s report, “Review of the Environmental Impacts of Salmon Farming in Scotland”. The committee also expects to consider its proposed approach to consideration of the Scottish Crown Estate Bill and a draft report on its inquiry into air quality in Scotland. As agreed earlier, we will now move into private session.

12:37 Meeting continued in private until 12:57.