Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

The Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019, which amends the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, sets targets to reduce Scotland's emissions of all greenhouse gases to net-zero by 2045 at the latest, with interim targets for reductions of at least 56% by 2020, 75% by 2030, 90% by 2040.

Our target of net-zero emissions by 2045, five years ahead of the UK, is firmly based on what the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC) advise is the limit of what can currently be achieved. The levels of all of Scotland’s targets are regularly reviewed following advice from the CCC.

Scotland's targets include a fair share of emissions from international aviation and shipping. Progress towards the targets is measured against 1990 levels of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide and 1995 levels of hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride and nitrogen trifluoride.

Our approach: a Just Transition and social engagement

The 2019 Act embeds the principles of a Just Transition, which means reducing emissions in a way which tackles inequality and promotes fair work, at the heart of Scotland’s approach to reaching net-zero.

A Just Transition Commission is current engaging with stakeholders across Scotland to prepare advice for Scottish Ministers on how to maximise the economic and social opportunities from meeting emissions reduction targets, whilst managing the risks.

Meeting the targets will only be possible as a shared national endeavour and social engagement is also central to our approach. We are supporting this engagement through establishing an independent Citizens’ Assembly on climate change, with future plans for a National Forum and Citizen’s Assembly. Alongside the Climate Change Plan update we also published a Draft Public Engagement Strategy for Climate Change which we are currently consulting on. This marks a new chapter in our people-centred approach to climate change policy.

Planning to meet the emissions reduction targets

Scotland’s legislation requires a strategic delivery plan for meeting targets to be published at least every 5 years. Scotland’s current Climate Change Plan was published in 2018 and the second annual report on monitoring progress towards delivery of the Climate Change Plan was published in December 2019. We updated this Plan in December 2020 in response to the global climate emergency, and the new and ambitious emissions reduction targets set with the 2019 Climate Change Act. The Climate Change Plan update demonstrates a pathway to meeting Scotland’s emissions reduction targets over the period to 2032.

Many elements of the 2018 Plan still stand and this Plan update should be read alongside that document.

In light of the unprecedented circumstances we are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this Plan update is also a strategic document on Scotland’s green recovery. A green recovery is our commitment to deliver an economic recovery from COVID-19 in a way that sets us on a pathway towards our emissions reduction targets and that prioritises economic, social and environmental wellbeing.

Annual targets

To help ensure delivery of the long-term targets, Scotland’s climate change legislation also includes annual targets for every year to net-zero. The levels of these targets (expressed as percentage reductions from the 1990/1995 baseline) are set out below:

2018 54.0%
2019 55.0%
2020 (interim target) 56%
2021 57.9%
2022 59.8%
2023 61.7%
2024 63.6%
2025 65.5%
2026 67.4%
2027 69.3%
2028 71.2%
2029 73.1%
2030 (interim target) 75%
2031 76.5%
2032 78.0%
2033 79.5%
2034 81.0%
2035 82.5%
2036 84.0%
2037 85.5%
2038 87.0%
2039 88.5%
2040 (interim target) 90%
2041 92.0%
2042 94.0%
2043 96.0%
2044 98.0%
2045 100% (net-zero emissions)

Reporting on progress

We publish an annual target report that sets out whether each annual emissions reduction target has been met. The latest report for the 2019 target was published in June 2021
The UK Climate Change Committee (CCC) also publishes independent annual assessments of Scotland’s progress in reducing emissions, which may be found on its website.

Budget proposals

For each year's Budget we publish an accompanying high-level carbon assessment which estimates how government spending plans will impact on emissions. View carbon assessments within the greenhouse gas estimation statistics.