Scotland is the second most successful nation in western Europe after Sweden in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, data released by the Scottish government has revealed.
Between 1990 and 2014, Scotland managed to reduce its carbon footprint by 39.5 per cent - 6.5 per cent more than the UK average of 33 per cent. England saw a decrease of 34 per cent.
However, environmental campaigners said there is no time for countries to rest on their laurels. Despite Scotland's achievements, it still lags some way behind front-runner Sweden, which reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 54.5 per cent over the same period.
"It's great to see more evidence that Scotland is in the vanguard when it comes to tackling climate change in Europe,” said WWF Scotland director Lang Banks.
“Thanks to strong government leadership over the years we've embraced renewables, helping to de-carbonise our power sector. However, looking ahead there is no room for complacency if Scotland is to maintain its position as a leader on climate change and to capture the many social, health and economic benefits of moving to a zero-carbon future.”
Most of the reductions were achieved in the electricity and waste industries, Banks said, admitting that many sectors including transport and housing still lag behind. The transport sector, according to Banks, hasn’t improved much since the 1990s and housing sees a lot of wasted energy and thus excess carbon footprint due to improperly insulated buildings.
The figures also do not include emissions from offshore sources, such as the oil and gas industry. Adjustments for the effect of the EU Emissions Trading System are also excluded.
The Scottish Government will introduce a new climate action plan by the end of the year, which is expected to put forward an even bolder transformational strategy.
"Climate change is a global challenge and other countries must step up to match Scotland's levels of ambition and action if the goal in last year's international Paris Climate Change Agreement of limiting global warming to well below two degrees Celsius is to be realised," said Scottish Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham.
Scottish ministers plan to introduce a new climate change bill, which will set a target to reduce emissions by more than 50 per cent by 2020.
Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.