Cleaner Air for Scotland 2: progress report 2022-2023

Second annual report summarising progress on delivering actions since the Cleaner Air for Scotland 2 strategy was published in July 2021.

Improvements in air quality across Scotland

Scotland enjoys a high level of air quality, and over the past three decades levels of the main air pollutants have declined significantly.

Between 2005 and 2020 (the latest year for which figures are available), nitrogen oxide emissions have decreased by 61%, fine particulate matter by 52% and sulphur dioxide by 92%. Additionally, the number of monitoring sites exceeding air quality objectives is reducing – for nitrogen dioxide from 14 in 2013 to zero in 2022; for particulate matter from 17 in 2013 to zero in 2022.

Excluding data from 2020 and 2021 (which are not representative of long term trends due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic), pollution levels across the Scottish monitoring network of c.100 sites continue to decrease year on year. 2022 represents the first time that objectives for all pollutants at all automatic monitoring sites have been met outside of pandemic lockdown periods.

Figure 1 – emissions trends for the main air pollutants in Scotland 2005 – 2020.
A graph showing trends for the main air pollutants in Scotland between 2005 – 2020. The graph shows a downward trend for the majority of the main air pollutants except for ammonia where emissions have remained stable. Sulphur dioxide emissions have decreased the most.

Air Pollutant Inventories for England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland: 2005-2020



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