Scotland is living in a global climate emergency. As we start to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic we have the chance to make positive changes to help tackle climate change and reach net zero emissions in a way that is just and fair. But we need everyone to take action and play their part. It’s time for change. With the wellbeing and safety of the world’s population at stake, we need to succeed. And together we can. Let’s do net zero.
Scotland was one of the first countries in the world to declare a climate emergency and in the the last 30 years we've halved our greenhouse gas emissions. As part of our ongoing commitment to protect people and our planet, we've set a world-leading target to reach net zero emissions by 2045.
Net Zero is vital for people, nature and our climate. It will bring new opportunities, transform our economy and our society and we are committed to getting there in a way that is fair, leaves no one behind and benefits all of us.
Our goal, as we move away from carbon intensive industries, is to make the economy work for everyone so no one is left behind, whilst protecting our planet. The journey to create a better future for everyone - regardless of where they live, what they do and who they are – is known as a ‘Just Transition’. Our green recovery will help build infrastructure for things like electric vehicles, heating, aviation, marine and renewables. And we’re already building resilience to the impacts of climate change by investing in flood risk management to protect our iconic coastlines. The opportunities for innovative net zero solutions, products and services is enormous and growing – Scotland can harness these to help grow our economy.
The Scottish Government has set out short, medium and long term goals and when they are to be achieved by in the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019.
Here are some of the most recent commitments that the Scottish Government has set out in the Programme for Government to tackle climate change and help Scotland and its people get to net zero:
At COP26 in Glasgow we played our part to achieve lasting climate action, by raising ambition and recognising the need for the world to work together. Now – more than ever – we’re striving to get to Net Zero in a way that’s fair and just for everyone.
Through our co-chairing of the Under2 Coalition, we supported all U2 members (states, regions and cities) to commit to reach net zero by 2050, and earlier where possible. Collectively the U2 Coalition represents almost 2 billion people and accounts for half of global GDP.
More than 200 cities and states have now signed up to the Edinburgh declaration on biodiversity. This declaration which commits signatories to take transformative action to protect nature and halt biodiversity loss around the globe.
Scotland launched a £55 million Nature Restoration Fund.
Free bus travel for under 22s from February 2022.
Scotland announced proposals to more than double Scotland’s onshore wind capacity by 2030.
Scotland committed to restoring and expanding its rainforest.
Scotland committed to supporting the key role that woman and girls should play in tackling climate change.
COP26 Event Recordings
During COP26, the Scottish Government and partners hosted an exciting programme of digital events to showcase the best of Scotland's climate action.
Located in Skye’s coastal village of Waternish, Skyeskyns produces the highest quality sheepskins. With the support of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skyeskyns has built upon its sustainable foundations and implemented various innovative initiatives across the company.
With support from across the public sector, including Scottish Enterprise and Business Gateway, Oak Tree Inn has implemented various innovative initiatives across the company in order to become more sustainable.
One business that has been committed to sustainability since its inception in 1997 is ACS Clothing, a Rental and Resale reverse logistics provider in the fashion rental industry.
Bridging the digital divide by connecting to the earth.
What can I do?
From eater greener to electric vehicles, everything we do adds up. Find out what actions you can take and let's do net zero together.
Greenhouse gas emissions come from the energy and resources required to produce, process, package, transport and cook food. But there are lots of things we can do to limit the climate impact of food, such as buying locally, choosing food that’s in season, using meal planning to avoid any wastage, recycling food waste or using it as compost.
Almost two thirds of the food waste in Scotland comes directly from households. That’s why the Scottish Government has developed a Food Waste Reduction Action Plan to reduce food waste by 33% by 2025. As well as reducing food waste, we must also recycle it. If food waste is thrown in landfill instead of being properly recycled it rots, creating the greenhouse gas methane which is even more harmful to the planet than carbon dioxide. By reducing and recycling food waste we can significantly reduce emissions and reach net zero.
See what actions you can take
In 2019 the equivalent of nearly 90% of the electricity we used came from renewables and provisional data indicates that this rose to over 95% in 2020. We’re home to the world’s first floating offshore wind farm, located just off Peterhead. And in 2020 we made up almost a quarter of the UK’s renewable electricity generation, with most of this coming from wind.
How we heat our homes contributes significantly to climate change - around 23% of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions comes from heating our homes and workplaces. To meet our net zero targets we need to reduce and ultimately remove emissions from heating our homes by switching to zero emissions heating and upgrading them so they’re more energy efficient, comfortable and cheaper to heat. We’ve already made good progress on energy efficiency, with 45% of homes now achieving EPC C or better, but we all need to make more energy efficient choices like installing zero emissions heating systems such as heat pumps and heat networks. Our aim is that by 2030 over 1 million homes and around 50,000 buildings are converted to use these systems. That’s why we’re stepping up our investment over the next five years with almost £1.6 billion allocated for heat and energy efficiency measures in homes and buildings across Scotland.
Upgrading to a zero emissions heating system and insulating your home can dramatically help improve the efficiency of your heating. A home that isn’t well insulated can lose more than 50% of its heat through its roof and walls so making improvements can help your finances as well as lower emissions. Home Energy Scotland, from the Scottish Government, provide clear, free and impartial advice on how you can make your home more energy efficient. There are a range of grants and support available to make homes warmer and cheaper to heat, including renewable and low carbon measures. You could get funding to help with the cost of installing energy efficiency measures – Home Energy Scotland will check what you’re eligible for. Contact Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282 to find out what support is available or visit www.homeenergyscotland.org.
Over the past 20 years, Scotland’s progress in reducing waste emissions has been striking – the amount of waste going to landfill is at its lowest since records began. But there’s still a lot of work to do to reduce waste further and meet our net zero emissions target.
Around three-quarters of Scotland’s carbon footprint comes from the goods, materials and services we produce and use. We need to think about the things we buy and choose more sustainable options. As shops open up again, it’s important to consider our buying habits and how essential it is to make new purchases. Reducing, reusing, repairing and recycling clothing, furniture and electrical items, will lower the carbon emissions and resources used that come from purchasing everything new all of the time. Consider whether that item is necessary to purchase or decide if it can be borrowed from family or friends, rented or, if not, whether a second hand purchase can be made. Look out for the Revolve quality standard for second hand stores so that you can buy second hand with confidence. By moving to a circular economy where goods and materials are kept in circulation for as long as possible, we can help Scotland reach net zero emissions.
Transport is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland, accounting for nearly 36%. Choosing to travel shorter everyday journeys by walking, wheeling or cycling helps reduce emissions, whilst keeping us healthier and happier. We’re supporting people to choose greener travel options by creating clean, safe spaces where we can all choose more active ways to get around. Over the next five years we're investing over £500 million to deliver active travel infrastructure and programmes that encourage people to make the switch to sustainable travel. Interest free loans are also available to help with the cost of purchasing an e-bike or e-cargo bike.
We’re investing over half a billion pounds in infrastructure for buses to reduce the impact of congestion and help increase the number of people who use the bus to travel. One double decker bus is the equivalent of removing 75 single occupancy cars from Scotland’s roads. We recently invested over £40 million in zero emission buses, many of these built in Falkirk, supporting skilled, green manufacturing jobs as well as reducing transport emissions. In addition to the work underway to transform bus travel, we plan to decarbonise rail travel and create the first zero emissions aviation region in the Highlands and Islands.
We’re also phasing out the need for new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 to help reach our net zero emissions target - electric vehicles don’t produce any tailpipe CO2 emissions and have a much lower carbon impact overall. To support the move to electric vehicles, we’ve invested over £40 million to establish one of the largest electric vehicle charging networks in the UK – ChargePlace Scotland. Financial support is also available to support the switch to electric vehicles including a grant to have a charge point installed at home. So far, we’ve provided over £80 million of funding to help people make the switch to low carbon vehicles. To apply for an electric vehicle loan, contact Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282 or visit www.homeenergyscotland.org.
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Take Action – starting today
Families and individuals, businesses and Government, all of Scotland has a part to play in tackling climate change and reaching net zero emissions. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown we are able and willing to make radical changes to our way of life in the face of crisis; we must use this energy in the fight against climate change.