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Technical Note: Sustainability (2007-2016)

Reduce greenhouse gas emissions

DESCRIPTION:

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the period to 2011. To reduce greenhouse emissions by 80% by 2050.

The indicator aims to monitor the contribution that Scotland is making to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

The short term target is a comparative measure of reductions in net greenhouse gas emissions which occur between 2006 and 2011.

The long term target is an 80% reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions from a baseline of 1990 for carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide and 1995 for the F gases (hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride and nitrogen trifluoride).  This mirrors the requirement of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009.

The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 also includes an interim target of a 42% reduction from the baseline by 2020 in addition to the need to set annual targets from 2010.

The Scottish Parliament has passed legislation setting annual targets for the years 2010-2027. These can be found at:
The Climate Change (Annual Targets) (Scotland) Order 2010
The Climate Change (Annual Targets) (Scotland) Order 2011

SOURCE:

All the targets will use the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI) disaggregated greenhouse gas inventory and estimates of greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation and shipping as the main evidence source.

Information on trading in carbon units under the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) are collected by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Environment Agency (EA).

The inventory data are those currently published by Ricardo-AEA under contract to Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), Scottish Government (SG), Welsh Government and Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland.  Ricardo-AEA conduct detailed quality assurance.

Emissions will be published in the environment statistics section of the SG website:
http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Environment

The emissions figures are those published in "Greenhouse gas inventories for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland" on the NAEI website.

The indicator use the sum of the greenhouse gas emissions assigned to Scotland in the disaggregated greenhouse gas inventory (taking account of any removals such as those resulting from afforestation) and the emissions from international aviation and shipping, expressed as tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. These emissions are adjusted for trading within the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and the background to this is outlined below.

ESTIMATED EMISSIONS ADJUSTED FOR TRADING WITHIN THE EU EMISSIONS TRADING SCHEME (EU ETS)

Scotland in the EU ETS

The EU ETS contributes to delivering Scotland’s Climate Change Targets through incentivising the reduction in emissions from Scottish organisations participating in the scheme. In 2013, there were 79 Scottish installations that surrendered emissions allowances in the EU ETS.

What are ‘traded emissions’ and ‘non-traded emissions’?

In the greenhouse gas inventory, source emissions can be categorised into traded and non-traded. Traded emissions capture those that come from installations covered by the EU ETS, whereas non-traded emissions are those which do not fall within the scope of the EU ETS.  The emissions from some sectors, such as the residential sector, are completely non-traded whereas emissions from other sectors, such as energy supply, business and industrial process are a combination of traded and non-traded.   For 2013, CO2 emissions from domestic and international aviation are estimated as being within the traded sector.

What are adjusted emissions and the Net Scottish Emissions Account (NSEA)?

The Scottish climate change targets are assessed against the Net Scottish Emissions Account (NSEA), which is detailed in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 and has been reported for the years 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 as part of the Act.  The NSEA accounts for the greenhouse gas emissions from sources in Scotland, Scotland's share of emissions from international aviation and international shipping, the effect of any relevant emissions removals (e.g. "carbon sinks" such as woodland) and the effect of the sale and purchase of relevant carbon units (tradable emissions allowances) in the EU ETS.

The EU ETS element of the NSEA is calculated by taking the difference between Scotland’s notional share of the overall EU ETS cap and the number of emissions allowances surrendered from Scottish installations in a given year. This amount is then added to non-traded net emissions to get the NSEA. 

In summary, Net Scottish Emissions Account =

Net greenhouse gas emissions, including international aviation and shipping – EU ETS surrenders + Scotland’s share of the EU ETS cap “specified amount”

The EU ETS was introduced in 2005; a similar adjustment was reported for all years since then.

DEFINITIONS:

For this target, as for the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, the greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and the F-gases - hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride and nitrogen trifluoride.

BASELINE AND PAST TRENDS:

Baseline period:

For the long term target 1990 will be used as the baseline for carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, and 1995 for the F-gases (hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride and nitrogen trifluoride).  This is in line with international requirements and the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009.

2006 will be used as the baseline year for the short term target for all gases. This target is intended to reflect the emission reductions made during the lifetime of this administration.

Baseline figure:

80.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent for the long term target (1990 for carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, 1995 for the F-gases (hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride and nitrogen trifluoride).

71.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent for the short term target (2006 for all greenhouse gases)

(Note that these targets may be revised following annual revisions to the greenhouse gas inventory.)

Scottish greenhouse gas emissions in million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent:

Year

Emissions

Baseline Period

80.8

1995

81.2

1998

80.1

1999

76.5

2000

78.0

2001

77.0

2002

72.4

2003

72.3

2004

69.9

2005

69.0

2006

67.5

2007

66.2

2008

63.5

2009

60.8

2010

60.5

2011

57.8

2012

57.8

2013

49.7

CRITERIA FOR RECENT CHANGE ARROW:

The evaluation is based on the % change in the tonnage of emissions. If the change is less than ±1% of the previous years figure, this suggests that the emission levels are more likely to have been maintained, rather than showing change. A decrease in the tonnage of more than 1% suggests that the position is improving; whereas an increase in the tonnage of more than 1% suggests the position is worsening.

For information on general methodological approach, please click here.

FUTURE ISSUES OR REVIEWS:

Every year, the greenhouse gas inventories are updated to reflect improvements in the underpinning science, data and modelling which often result in revisions to the entire time series.  These revisions also reflect changes to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) guidelines.  Some of the changes for the 1990-2014 inventory and for subsequent inventories are already known and overall, these are likely to increase Scotland’s net emissions further.

There are a number of projects underway which might result in considerable upwards revisions for future inventories in a number of sectors.  For instance,

  • There is a project underway to better understand the behaviour of drained organic soils and the impact of this on how forests release or sequester carbon.  This may considerably increase net emissions in this sector.
  • An improved methodology is being developed to better represent emissions from land use changes
  • There is a large scale, on-going programme of research to generate more detailed data on emissions in the agriculture sector.
  • In the Waste Management sector, there is research underway to better understand the ratio of carbon dioxide to methane in landfill gas.  This could considerably increase methane emissions in this sector.
  • There is also likely to be a review of shipping emissions and of some carbon factors in the energy supply sector.

Note that there are likely to be further revisions in the 1990-2014 inventory which have not been noted here.

ASSOCIATED TARGET:

Target: To reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the period to 2011. To reduce greenhouse emissions by 80% by 2050.

For more information on this target please see the Government Economic Strategy:

http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/03/5984

End point: 2050 for the long term target and 2011 for the short term target.