Scotland's carbon footprint: 1998 - 2017

Estimates of Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions on a consumption basis.

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What is Scotland's Carbon Footprint?

Scotland's Carbon Footprint refers to estimates of Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions on a consumption basis. This refers to greenhouse gas emissions which are associated with the spending of Scottish residents on goods and services, wherever in the world these emissions arise together with emissions directly generated by Scottish households, through private heating and motoring. These greenhouse gas emissions are often referred to as "consumption emissions" to distinguish them from estimates relating to the emissions "produced" within a country's territory or economic sphere. Scotland's Carbon Footprint is also sometimes referred to as it's Consumption Based Account. Information on the different reporting bases can be found in the section Comparison of Scotland's carbon footprint and its territorial emissions within this publication.

To find out what effect Scottish consumption has on greenhouse gas emissions we need to take into account where the goods we buy come from and their associated supply chains. More information on the methods used can be found in the section "How has Scotland's Carbon Footprint been calculated?"

The carbon footprint of Scotland includes the six main greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and fluorinated compounds (hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride). Unless otherwise specified, these emissions are presented in this publication in units of million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e)[1].

This statistical report meets the requirements under Section 37 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 and is used to inform the Scotland Performs National Indicator 47: Reduce Scotland's Carbon Footprint

  • Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions can be broken up into three main categories: emissions embedded in imported goods and services, those embedded in UK produced goods and services and those directly produced by Scottish residents, through activities such as heating and motoring. More information on these categories can be found in the section "Breakdown of Scotland's Carbon Footprint 1998-2017".
  • Whilst Scotland's carbon footprint has fallen by 21.1 per cent between 1998 and 2017, equivalent greenhouse gas emissions on a territorial basis have fallen by 45.8 per cent over the same time period[2].
  • Similarly, Scotland's carbon dioxide footprint is measured on the same basis as the carbon footprint although it relates only to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Scotland's carbon dioxide footprint decreased by 14.1 per cent between 1998 and 2017 whilst reaching its peak in 2007.

Since 1990, the UK's economy has continued to shift from manufacturing to having a greater reliance upon the services sector. One of the consequences of this is that more of the goods we buy and use are now produced outside Scotland and the rest of the UK. The current data in this publication breaks down greenhouse gas emissions into those generated by households and businesses, those produced in the UK and imports from a number of global countries and regions.

Inherently the greenhouse gas emissions relating to the overseas production of imports to Scotland are not as easily measured as emissions generated within Scotland's borders. There are general conventions on how to do this, using shares of production based on financial data, but the results cannot be viewed as being as robust as the estimates of greenhouse gas emissions generated domestically. The methodology and data for calculating these emissions resulting from imports have been revised since the last release. More information can be found in the revisions section of the publication.



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