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Changing Our Ways: Scotland's Climate Change Programme

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Section 4: Scotland's achievements so far

Our emissions record

4.1 Scotland's emissions record speaks for itself.

  • GHG emissions fell by 10% between 1990 and 2003 (from 19.6 to 17.6 MtC). Within that reduction:
  • CO 2 emissions fell by 8% (from 16.1 to 14.8 MtC).
  • Non- CO 2 greenhouse gases 7 fell by 20% (from 3.5 to 2.8 MtC).
  • Removals of CO 2 - ie emissions removed from the atmosphere by forests and soils - increased by 20% between 1990 and 2003 (from 2.3 to 2.7 MtC removed).
  • Overall, Scotland's net greenhouse emissions (ie emissions minus removals) fell by 14% between 1990 and 2003 (from 17.3 to 14.9 MtC).

Changes in GHG emissions in MtC, 1990 to 2003

image of Changes in GHG emissions in <acronym>MtC</acronym>, 1990 to 2003

4.2 This compares favourably with net emissions in the UK overall, which fell by 13% over the same period 8 (from 205 MtC in 1990 to 177 MtC in 2003), and other parts of the UK. Net emissions in Wales fell by 3%, Northern Ireland 4% and England 16%.

4.3 In 2003 Scotland accounted for 8% of net emissions in the UK. Further information on emissions trends is contained in Annex F.

Distribution of UK net emissions in 1990 (including removals) Total net UK emissions = 204.7 MtC

image of Distribution of UK net emissions in 1990 (including removals) Total net UK emissions = 204.7 <acronym>MtC</acronym>

Distribution of UK net emissions in 2003 (including removals) Total net UK emissions = 177.2 MtC

image of Distribution of UK net emissions in 2003 (including removals) Total net UK emissions = 177.2 <acronym>MtC</acronym>

Percentage change in net GHG emissions of EU-15 Member States (including removals) between 1990 and 20039

image of Percentage change in net GHG emissions of EU-15 Member States (including removals) between 1990 and 2003

4.4 In terms of comparisons with the EU 15 Member States, (see chart above) Scotland's net GHG emissions reduction between 1990 and 2003 was greater than 13 of the 15 Member States that make up the EU Kyoto burden sharing agreement 10, with only Germany and the UK achieving greater reductions.

Decoupling emissions from economic activity

4.5 Achieving a sustainable economy requires breaking the link between economic activity and environmental pressure through, amongst other things, reducing the carbon intensity of the Scottish economy. Scotland's record to date shows good progress in doing just that. Our GHG emissions reductions over the period 1990 to 2003 have been achieved at the same time as a 29% growth in the Scottish economy. An indicator encompassing emissions of CO 2 and economic growth is included as one of the set of Scottish Sustainable Development Indicators11 published in 2002. The Sustainable Prosperity index, shown below, compares how much CO 2 Scotland emits in relation to its wealth, providing a means of calculating the carbon intensity of our economy. The lower the Sustainable Prosperity Index, the lower the carbon intensity of the economy. Between 1990 and 2003, Scotland's Sustainable Prosperity Index reduced from 100 to 71.

Sustainable Prosperity: index of carbon dioxide emissions (excluding removals) divided by GDP at basic prices

image of Sustainable Prosperity: index of carbon dioxide emissions (excluding removals) divided by GDP at basic prices

4.6 An overview of emission trends for the main sectors in Scotland which contribute to climate change is provided in the next section, along with more detailed sector level information.

Other notable successes

4.7 Responding to the challenge of climate change is about more than reducing emissions, important as that is. A selection of other initiatives which Scotland should be particularly proud of is highlighted in the box below.

Other notable successes

The international scene

  • Hosting world leaders at the 2005 G8 summit at Gleneagles. As Chair of the G8 at the time, the UK Government set an ambitious agenda, prioritising climate change and Africa, and involving developing countries for the first time. The resulting Gleneagles Plan of Action called for a dialogue which has already led to progress with the Dialogue partner countries working together on the deployment of clean technology, investment in low-carbon technologies, cooperation between developed and developing nations, and reinforcement of adaptation action.

Forming regional partnerships

  • Participating in the Montreal Regional Leaders Summit 2005, which ran alongside the main Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC. Scotland's Environment Minister, Ross Finnie, attended and signed a Declaration which recognises the important role emissions reduction targets can play in tackling climate change. Scottish Ministers will continue to work with other regional leaders to share best practice.

Forefront of technology development

  • Funding the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, which is the first of its kind in the world, builds on Scotland's natural advantages and technology base and aims to stimulate and accelerate the development of marine power devices, initially through the operation of a testing centre in Orkney.

Using targets to drive development

  • Setting an ambitious target in 2003 to generate 40% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020. The driver for this target - the Renewables Obligation Scotland - has provided the incentive for significant renewables development in Scotland, including wind, wave, tidal, hydro and biomass.

Gathering evidence and improving our understanding

  • Commissioning research into the dynamics of carbon and nitrogen in organic soils. We have recently published research which reviews how Scottish agriculture contributes to global climate change via emissions of nitrous oxide associated with fertiliser use, and the Executive - along with the National Assembly for Wales - is currently funding research to simulate carbon and nitrogen dynamics in inorganic soils and predict the response of these soils to changes in land use and climate - due to be available in 2007.

Integrating within policy development

  • Pioneering Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA) legislation which goes beyond the requirements of the European Directive 12 and will require greater scrutiny of climate change considerations at the earliest stages of policy development. Scotland is leading the way in Europe in extending the scope of assessment to all public sector strategies, plans and programmes and our approach helps support the drive for genuine sustainable development and promotes public involvement in the decision-making process.