Renewable and low carbon energy

Carbon neutral islands

The Carbon Neutral Islands (CNI) project is a 2021-2022 programme for government commitment aimed at supporting six islands to become carbon neutral by 2040. The definition of ‘carbon neutral’, in the context of this project means an island where the greenhouse gas emissions, captured as CO2 equivalent, are in balance with carbon sinks.

The CNI project provides an opportunity to demonstrate the low carbon energy potential of islands as hubs of innovation in relation to renewable energy and climate change resilience. This will also positively impact on island economies, facilities and general wellbeing by allowing for reinvestment in the communities.

The six islands will act as catalysts for decarbonisation across all Scottish islands. We are working closely with Community Energy Scotland to deliver the project. In addition to the work focusing on the six islands, there is also a CNI School project and a CNI project international dimension.

The six islands included in the CNI project are:

  • Barra
  • Great Cumbrae
  • Hoy
  • Islay
  • Raasay
  • Yell

For each of the islands w​​​​​​e are developing:

  • in depth carbon audits
  • community climate change action plans
  • climate change investment strategies

On each carbon neutral island our delivery partner Community Energy Scotland is working closely with a steering group made up of key members of the island community. They are also engaging with a local anchor organisation who will employ a community development officer to support with the development of the above.

School project

Building on the Climate Change Message in a Bottle project, the CNI school project provides young islanders with an opportunity to contribute to the implementation of the CNI project. It will strengthen a network of island based primary and secondary schools. It will also allow the education for sustainability programme Island Explorers to be shared with schools across islands in Scotland. The CNI school project is led by Youth Scotland and its work aligns closely and strengthens the Young Islanders Network.

International dimension

The CNI project is sharing Scotland island based renewable energy technology and expertise with island partners in Europe and beyond. The goal is to provide a focused platform to reciprocally inform good practices and to explore potential commercial opportunities for Scottish based companies and organisations.

Progress report

In January 2023 we published the Carbon Neutral Islands project progress report . This sets out the progress made so far to support the islands that have been identified to become carbon neutral,  as well as laying the foundations for future action relevant for all other islands in Scotland.

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