Scotland to become a net-zero society

New legislation will demonstrate global leadership.

Scotland’s contribution to climate change will end definitively within a generation under the Climate Change Bill to be voted on by the Scottish Parliament later.

The landmark legislation commits Scotland to becoming a net-zero society by 2045 – five years before the rest of the UK and in line with the advice from the government’s independent expert advisors, the UK Committee on Climate Change.

The Scottish Government will also respond to the global climate emergency by adopting an ambitious new target to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030 – the toughest statutory target of any country in the world for this date going above and beyond what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said is required worldwide to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.  To ensure we continue to take an evidence based approach the Scottish Government will commission new advice from the Committee on Climate Change on the UK wide pathway to 2030.

Accountability for meeting the targets will be strengthened, with Ministers now required to report on progress to tackle climate change in every sector, every year.

A Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change will be created to make recommendations to Ministers on how Scotland’s net-zero transition should be achieved.

Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“Our new Climate Change Bill demonstrates what international leadership on climate action means. Not only are we setting legally binding targets to reduce emissions to net-zero in direct response to the Paris Agreement, we are also putting in place the most stringent framework of statutory targets of any country in the world.

“We have already almost halved emissions since 1990. The second half of Scotland’s journey to net-zero emissions will, undoubtedly, require different, and in many cases much more difficult, choices than has been the case to date but it is clear people across Scotland want to see action.

“No one should be in any doubt of the Scottish Government’s commitment to use every policy lever at our disposal to rise to this challenge.

“Our end target is firmly based on what we are told is the limit of what can currently be achieved.  It is the maximum possible ambition based upon the best available science and requires the UK to take action to meet their targets if Scotland is to meet ours. In the interim, while there is some uncertainty over the precise route that can be taken, we believe it is right to be as ambitious as possible to drive the action required to make the changes we need.  

“If parliament backs this legislation, we will seek further advice from the Committee on Climate Change and publish an update to our 2018-2032 Climate Change Plan showing the pathway to our targets out to 2032 within six months of the bill receiving royal assent. We will do so based on the principles of just transition and shared national endeavour. Our journey to becoming a net-zero society must leave no one behind – we must take it together.”


The new Climate Change Bill commits Scotland to a target of net-zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045. This is tougher than a net-zero carbon target, which commits only to balancing carbon dioxide emissions.      

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on plans for Public Sector bodies to set a date for zero emissions – under which buildings, estates and entire operations would cease to generate any emissions

The Scottish Government climate change plans cover a 15 year period from publication. The current plan was published in February 2018 and covers the period to 2032. This plan will be updated following the bill receiving royal assent.


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