Scotland's world-leading carbon-emission-reduction target (no less than 42 per cent by 2020) just got a bit more achievable: on Wednesday the first national target on energy efficiency was set, as part of the first Scottish Energy Efficiency Action Plan.

Existing commitments by the Scottish Government already include an ambitious aim to generate, within the next decade, 80 per cent of Scottish electricity from renewable energy. The new plan aims to reduce total energy consumption by 12 per cent in that time, which will mean less energy to generate.

Mike Thornton, Director of the Energy Saving Trust in Scotland, commented:

"Setting a target for maximum energy consumption is encouragingly ambitious and we also welcome the Scottish Government's commitment to energy efficiency as a cost-effective contribution to meeting climate change targets. We will continue to help Scottish consumers stop wasting energy and save money on fuel bills by providing free and impartial advice through the network of Energy Saving Scotland Advice Centres which we manage on behalf of the Scottish Government.

“This network already reaches more than 250,000 households each year and we look forward to it making a significant contribution to achieving Scotland's new energy efficiency targets."

First Minister Alex Salmond said:

"Today’s Action Plan reaffirms our ambitious energy efficiency and microgeneration agenda for Scotland. It will play a key part in meeting our world-leading climate change targets and in so doing create employment, promote new technologies, reduce costs for consumers and secure wider economic benefits from the transition to a low carbon economy."

Along with the launch of the plan, the Scottish Government also announced its new Universal Home Insulation Scheme, a £10 million programme to support new area-based, free-to-all energy efficiency schemes, delivered by local authorities. Around 100,000 homes across Scotland will be contacted with advice on energy efficiency measures and offered the opportunity to participate. This is in addition to last month's announcement of £15 million for the Home Insulation Scheme – delivered by the Energy Saving Trust – which offers householders a mix of free and discounted energy-saving measures, according to income.

42 per cent carbon-emission reductions by 2020? 80 per cent renewable energy by 2020? 12 per cent less energy consumed by 2020? It's a 'triple 20' that could save an estimated £2 billion by 2020, through smaller energy bills – and investment in energy efficiency over that period could directly support around 10,000 jobs.

That can only be good news.

Picture: Christian Gidlöf, Wikimedia Commons