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Sound carbon accounting needed and environment audits

  • 21 Jul 2021 22:23
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Turbines and their reflections at Hadyard Hill wind farm

Viking Energy, above, a consortium formed by Shetland Islands Council and Scottish and Southern Energy, plans to build a 127-turbine wind farm. claimed capable of producing enough power to supply 20% of all Scotland's domestic energy needs.

Turbines will be spread across 252 hectares of moorland. Viking Energy says the project will generate £37m a year in revenues, creating  hundreds of jobs.

However Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has confirmed that it is maintaining its objection on the grounds that the wind farm is likely to have adverse impacts on nationally important breeding birds, landscape and visual amenity.

Carbon accounting audit

The figure from from the Stockholm Environment Institute at York University includes greenhouse gases released overseas during the production of goods later consumed in Scotland and so is the most accurate gauge of the country’s emissions to date.

While emissions generated in Scotland itself fell by 13% between 1995 and 2004, when trade is taken into account, greenhouse gases rose by 11% over the same period.

The report conclues that humanity cannot afford a second Kyoto Protocol. Post-Kyoto negotiations need to lead to much more ambitious targets, which need to bring radical cuts in GHG emissions required. These will affect all aspects of our lives and the way we do business being to how we produce and price goods and services and the way we consume them.

Scotland is a key part of a global economy any approach to monitoring emissions that fails to take account of this global context offers an incomplete picture of progress. It has to be the aim of every government to ensure “real” reduction in emissions occurs, not merely shifting  responsibility, particularly if that is allocated to countries with low per capita emissions.

To assess real progress towards a low carbon economy in Scotland, it is essential the Scottish government measure both territorial and consumer emissions. Without both, its  greenhouse gas emissions monitoring related to Scotland is incomplete.

Carbon footprinting is more than just an interesting academic exercise. It has numerous applications that make it important to include such an approach as part of any national accounting framework.

  • Reveals deficiencies associated with the accounting practises established in the Kyoto Protocol;
  • Poses important questions associated with fair burden sharing in an increasingly economically integrated world;
  • Answers a completely different set of policy questions associated with the climate change impacts of peoples’ consumption and lifestyle choices in the UK.
  •  Addresses the question “Is Scotland increasingly relying on imports produced less efficiently than they were historically produced in Scotland?”

There is a need to consider both territorial and consumer emissions in Scotland to achieve the scale of the change required. Ignoring our consumer emissions means that we are only addressing part of the problem. Addressing production and consumption, new possibilities open up to achieve emission reductions.

It is hoped that this document does not provoke a defensive response, but opens the minds to the challenge ahead of the politicians and civil servants who have the responsibility for climate change.

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