Scottish emissions of air pollutants - 2015 results

An Official Statistics Publication for Scotland.

Scotland’s Chief Statistician today announces the release of a report on Scottish emissions of ammonia, sub-10 micron particulate matter (PM10), nitrogen oxides, non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs), carbon monoxide,  sulphur dioxide and lead on the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI) website.

The main findings are: * Over the long term there have been reductions in emissions for all the pollutants. Since 1990, there have been decreases of 10 per cent for ammonia, 63 per cent for PM10, 66 per cent for NMVOCs, 71 per cent for nitrogen oxides, 83 per cent for carbon monoxide, 92 per cent for sulphur dioxide and 99 per cent for lead.

In 2015

* Ammonia – Scottish emissions accounted for 12 per cent of UK emissions. The main source of Scottish emissions was agriculture responsible for 87 per cent of emissions.

* PM10 – Scottish emissions accounted for 8 per cent of UK emissions. Forty per cent of Scottish emissions came from combustion, 12 per cent from agriculture and 12 per cent from transport sources.

* Nitrogen oxides – Scottish emissions accounted for 9 per cent of UK emissions. Transport sources accounted for 43 per cent of Scottish emissions, energy industries 28 per cent and industrial combustion 14 per cent.

* NMVOCs – Scottish emissions accounted for 17 per cent of UK emissions. Industrial processes (mainly breweries and distilleries) accounted for 46 per cent of Scottish emissions, solvents and other product use 20 per cent and fugitive emissions from fuels 15 per cent.

* Carbon monoxide – Scottish emissions accounted for 7 per cent of UK emissions. Combustion accounted for 63 per cent of Scottish emissions and transport 28 per cent.

* Sulphur dioxide – Scottish emissions accounted for 10 per cent of UK emissions. Seventy five per cent of Scottish emissions came from power generation and 20 per cent from combustion

* Lead – Scottish emissions accounted for 4 per cent of UK emissions. Industrial combustion accounted for 30 per cent of Scottish emissions, energy industries 24 per cent, industrial processes 20 per cent and other combustion 18 per cent.

The 1990-2015 figures in this Statistics Release are from the NAEI report “Air Quality Pollutant Inventories for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland: 1990 – 2015”, produced by Aether and Ricardo-AEA for the Scottish Government, the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Northern Ireland Department of Environment.

Emissions from the offshore oil and gas exploration sector are not attributed to a specific country but are reported within an “unallocated” category.

There are uncertainties associated with all estimates of pollutant emissions. The uncertainty rating are “high” for ammonia, carbon monoxide and PM10, “moderate” for NMVOCs and lead and “low” for nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide. However, although for any given year considerable uncertainties may surround the emission estimates, it should be noted that trends over time are likely to be more reliable.

Air pollutant emissions are reviewed every year, and the whole historical data series is revised to incorporate methodological improvements and new data.


The publication together with full technical explanations can be accessed at:

Official statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff – more information on the standards of official statistics in Scotland can be accessed at:

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