Carbon Neutral Islands: project progress report

We announced the commitment to support at least three islands to become fully carbon neutral by 2040 in the Programme for Government 2021-2022. This was raised further at COP 26 and the project now aims to support six islands become carbon neutral.

Foreword from Scotland's Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands

Climate change and nature loss are the greatest threats facing our planet. We're already seeing the impact in Scotland. Accordingly, the Scottish Government have declared a climate emergency and increased our climate action, including our commitment to reach net zero by 2045 as set out in the ambitious 2019 Climate Change Act.

As Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, I want to ensure that our island communities are front and centre in the journey to net zero. Scotland's islands are home to a wealth of natural resources and expertise in the field of renewable energy. However, at the same time – as with islands globally – they are the first to suffer the negative consequences of climate change such as predicted sea level rise, increased instances of flooding and coastal erosion. This negatively affects water supply, food production, health, tourism and accelerates habitat depletion.

The Carbon Neutral Islands Project has been developed following the 2021–22 Programme for Government commitment to support three islands to become carbon neutral by 2040. The ambition was increased at COP 26, where I announced that we would support six islands in their journey to carbon neutrality by 2040.

This report sets out the progress made so far to support the islands that have been identified to become carbon neutral – Barra, Great Cumbrae, Hoy, Islay, Raasay and Yell – laying the foundations for future action relevant for all other islands in Scotland.

I am delighted that the project has communities at its heart. Implementation will take a bottom-up approach including active participation of island communities and organisations to ensure their voices are heard and they have a say in their own decarbonisation journeys. Just transition principles are integrated throughout the project to ensure that island communities can take advantage of the opportunities this monumental challenge presents.

I look forward to the continual progress of this important commitment which will keep islanders at the forefront of our journey to net zero and beyond.

Mairi Gougeon MSP

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands



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