Employees of Transport Scotland, the national transport agency for Scotland charged with promoting sustainable transport, are under fire for being polluting travelers. The main issue seems to be about the CO2 emissions associated with air travel between London and Scotland.
In the past 12 months, the 280 people who work for transport Scotland have taken 661 domestic flights, 33 flights to Dusseldorf, 17 to Amsterdam and many more to South Korea, Peru, Venezuela and South Africa.
Air travel between London and Scotland causes three times as much CO2 emissions as train travel. If the agency gave up domestic air travel, it would cut their emissions by 55%.
But under their 2010-2013 travel plan, they’re targeting a 20% emissions reduction for air travel between London and Scotland by 2013.
In a statement, Liberal Democrat Transport spokesperson Alison McInnes MSP says that “This is Scotland’s transport agency- the body supposed to be helping us reduce our emissions. Transport Scotland should be leading by example and using low carbon modes of transport like the train wherever possible. They have stated that air travel should be used as a last resort, but took nearly 2 flights a day last year. People will find advice from Transport Scotland hard to swallow if they know how much emissions are being produced by their own officials.”
The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 has an 80% greenhouse gas emissions reduction target by 2050, and an interim 42% reduction by 2020.
A lot of these reductions will have to come via policies and guidelines issued and implemented by Transport Scotland, and they’re expected to lead by example. On their website, they even have a sustainable transport section, where the headline says “Transport Scotland has assumed responsibility for sustainable transport policy in Scotland.”
If current statistics are any indication, Scotland won’t be assuming squat, because between 2006 and 2008, Transport Scotland’s business travel emissions increased by 53%. Staff air travel emissions jumped 100% during the same period. From 2007-2009, the agency’s overall carbon footprint actually increased by 3%.