Everyone loves the Scottish: They’re friendly, they have amazing accents, and they know how to rock a kilt. Now, there’s one more thing you can add to that list: They’re eco-friendly. Sources say Scotland is on-target for 100% renewable energy by the year 2020.
Scotland’s Ambitious Goals
A leading climate change academic recently announced that Scotland is on target to meet their goal of 100% renewable energy by 2020. That’s an ambitious goal by any standard—so how did they get here?
In 2009, the Scottish government created a group of renewable energy targets for 2020. The end goal was for the equivalent of 30% of Scotland’s heat, transportation, and electricity consumption to be provided by renewable sources by 2020.
So far, they’re crushing it. The country has met its emission targets five years early, and their energy supply now comes 60% from renewable resources (that’s up from 10% over the last 15 years).
Their success can largely be credited to an unprecedented level of cross-party support—and a little help from the whiskey industry. The Scotch Whiskey Association set its own goals back in 2009, hoping to increase the use of green fuels by 20% across the entire industry. As of 2018, they’re sourcing 21% of their energy from green sources—plus, water use has fallen by 29%.
As one of the largest industries in Scotland, their efforts set an amazing precedent for others.
How They’re Making It Happen
In the past decade, Scottish Power (one of the top 6 power companies in the UK) has closed all of its coal plants and has 2,700 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity operating or under construction.
To get the public behind the effort, the government steered clear of politics. Instead of pitching renewable energy as an environmental effort, or talking about global warming, they discussed a more sustainable future.
Still, many locals were opposed to unsightly wind farms cluttering up their land. To help get them on board, they were offered a share in the developments—and the strategy worked. Over 75% of the Scottish public are now in favor of measures to go green.
One thing that’s surprised everyone involved is how little the efforts have affected the economy. There has been a longstanding assumption, all over the world, that renewable energy is more expensive to source and maintain than fossil fuels. But, despite dismal predictions at the outset, the switch to renewables has been achieved without any economic hardship.
How Do Other Countries Stack Up?
In 2015, representatives of 195 nations signed the landmark Paris Climate Agreement. Under the deal, each country put forth its own goals for lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Results haven’t been fantastic. No major industrialized nation is on track to meet its pledge. The United States has stated that it’s going to back out of the agreement entirely by 2020. And while Scotland is making valiant efforts to up green energy, the EU as a whole is falling short.
Still, there is hope. The UK just became the first country to examine its Paris Agreement commitments and create a solid plan for meeting them. Perhaps the rest of the world will follow suit.