Committing to zero emissions

Proposals put public sector at the forefront of climate change fight.

All public bodies will need to set a date for reaching zero greenhouse gas emissions and publish annual updates on their progress under plans to put the public sector at the heart of Scotland’s transition to a net-zero society.

Views are also being sought on the creation of a High Ambition Climate Network to lead the way.

Launching a consultation on the proposals, Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham visited Saughton Park, Edinburgh, where a hydro-electric scheme is being built to remove more than 90 tonnes of CO2 from the city each year.

Ms Cunningham said:

“Scotland’s transition to a net-zero society is an investment in our present and our future and will require collective action across society. 

“Our public bodies have played a key role in our emissions reductions so far and there is a real opportunity for the sector to lead from the front to ensure actions continue to match our ambitions.

“Several public bodies, including the City of Edinburgh Council, have already made firm commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I want to bring the leaders of those bodies together, to form a coalition of the ambitious and play a leading role in Scotland’s response to the global climate emergency.

“I look forward to hearing views on how we can work together to continue to strengthen our approach to tackling climate change, improving the lives of the people who live here.”

City of Edinburgh Council Depute Leader Cammy Day said:

“Public Bodies have a significant and leading role to play in tackling climate change and I am delighted that the Climate Change Secretary has chosen to launch its consultation in Edinburgh. It’s also very fitting that we are at the city’s magnificently refurbished Saughton Park. Following its recent £8m revamp, it’s now Edinburgh’s greenest park and will soon be fully eco-powered thanks to its micro-hydro scheme and ground-source heating.

"We couldn’t have achieved what we’ve done here without significant support from our partners. Projects like this are the perfect example of how organisations and public bodies pulling together can make real headway towards a cleaner and greener city.”

City of Edinburgh Councillor Ellie Bird said:

“It is clear that we are facing a global climate emergency and that we collectively owe it to future generations to do all we can to protect our planet. As Scotland’s Capital city, we have set ourselves the ambitious challenge of becoming carbon neutral by 2030 for this very reason and we will work cross party, across all public bodies, our key partners and communities and citizens to deliver on this commitment. I welcome the priority given by the Scottish Government to this agenda and the climate focus of the Programme for Government.”


The 12-week consultation on The Role of Public Sector Bodies in Tackling Climate Change is a Programme for Government 2019-20 commitment.

The consultation includes a proposal that all public sector bodies set the date by which they will reach zero emissions in their annual reports from 2022.

Public sector bodies include local authorities, the police, fire and health services, transport partnerships, universities, colleges and organisations such as VisitScotland, Scottish Water and the National Galleries and Museums. UK Government public sector bodies operating in Scotland, such as HMRC and the Department of Work and Pensions, are not included in the proposals.

City of Edinburgh Council has announced its target to be carbon neutral by 2030.


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