Scotland's contribution to the Paris Agreement: indicative Nationally Determined Contribution

Scotland’s contribution to the Paris Agreement – an indicative Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).

Part 1: Overview of Scotland's Approach

Scotland's National Performance Framework (NPF)[3] is Scotland's 'wellbeing framework', recognising that societal wellbeing will increase when social outcomes, environmental outcomes, economic outcomes and democratic outcomes are all being delivered and are in balance. Scotland's action on climate change mitigation and adaptation, as summarised below, makes a significant contribution towards achieving many of the NPF National Outcomes and to Scotland's role in delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Ambitious legally binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with a comprehensive delivery plan for meeting them

Scotland's indicative nationally determined contribution reflects the domestic statutory framework of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009[4], as amended by the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019.

This statutory framework includes a target of a 75% reduction in economy-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030, relative to 1990 levels of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide and 1995 levels of hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride and nitrogen trifluoride.

Scotland's statutory framework also includes a net-zero emissions target date of 2045 and further interim targets for reductions of at least 56% by 2020 and 90% by 2040, relative to the 1990/95 baseline. To help ensure delivery of the long-term targets, the framework also includes statutory annual targets for every other year to net-zero.

All of Scotland's statutory targets are economy-wide; including all territorial greenhouse gas emissions and a fair share of those from international aviation and shipping, as well as territorial removals (including from the land use sectors). The statutory framework sets a default position that the targets are to be met through domestic action alone, without any use of international offset credits.

The methods used to measure emissions and removals for the purpose of assessing progress to the targets are based on international carbon reporting practice. An annual report to the Scottish Parliament sets out whether each annual emissions reduction target has been met[5]. If an annual emissions reduction target is missed, Scotland's climate change legislation requires that additional policies are then brought forward to compensate for the excess emissions by outperforming future targets.

Scotland's statutory framework on climate change requires a strategic delivery plan for meeting emissions reduction targets to be published at least every 5 years. Scotland's public bodies are also bound by legislation to, where applicable, report their own targets for emissions reduction to support our national ambitions.

Scotland's current Climate Change Plan covers actions over the period to 2032. This Plan was updated in December 2020 to reflect both the increased ambition of the targets set in response to the Paris Agreement by the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019 and also the context of a green recovery from COVID-19. A green recovery is the Scottish Government's commitment to deliver an economic recovery from COVID-19 in a way that sets Scotland on a pathway towards net-zero emissions and prioritises economic, social and environmental wellbeing. This approach recognises climate change as a human rights issue and the transition to net zero as an opportunity to tackle inequalities.

The Scottish Government's Climate Change Plan update[6], which should be read alongside the original 2018 Plan[7], demonstrates Scotland's pathway to meeting its ambitious emissions reduction targets – including the 75% reduction by 2030 which forms the basis of Scotland's indicative nationally determined contribution.

The following are examples of policies and measures set out in Scotland's current Climate Change Plan:

  • phasing out the need for new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030; also reducing the number of kilometres travelled by car in Scotland by 20% by 2030;
  • plans to help create 1 million zero-emission homes in Scotland by 2030;
  • a key role for nature-based solutions to climate change, with additional investment in our natural economy to support nature networks, peatland restoration and woodland creation helping to enhance biodiversity and create good, green jobs;
  • supporting the development of Scottish hydrogen and Carbon Capture and Storage industries, and of Negative Emissions Technologies;
  • accelerating the decarbonisation of Scotland's bus fleet;
  • support for the creation of Active Freeways to provide sustainable transport links between our towns and cities;
  • support for transforming vacant and derelict land, ensuring that this land is utilised for maximum environmental and community benefit;
  • consulting on a ban on all biodegradable non-municipal waste being sent to landfill.

The Scottish Government reports annually to the Scottish Parliament on progress towards the delivery of Climate Change Plans[8]. The monitoring framework used for this reporting lies at the heart of our 'learning by doing' approach. This approach reflects the lack of absolute certainty on how we deliver the transition over the next 25 years, given many of the solutions rely on further technological innovation, market development and wider take up and adoption as well as action by others. By monitoring, evaluating, updating and adapting this plan over the coming decade we can track our path to meeting our ambitious targets and capture the opportunities of the transition. The independent UK Climate Change Committee (CCC) also publishes independent annual assessments of Scotland's progress in reducing emissions[9].

More information on Scotland's climate change targets and approaches to meeting them is included in Part 2, which has been prepared in the spirit of an ICTU.

A people-centric and place-based approach to climate change adaptation

As well as reducing our emissions to net-zero by 2045, Scotland is also preparing for the climate changes which are already locked in. Our second 5-yearly statutory Climate Change Adaptation Programme[10] sets out how we are responding to the main climate risks for Scotland in a way that is closely aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The Scottish Government champions climate justice, and promotes a people-centred, human-rights approach to adaptation.

More information on Scotland's approach to adaptation is included in Part 3, which has been prepared in the spirit of an Adaptation Communication.

A transition to net-zero that is just and fair for all

A just transition is central to Scotland's green recovery from COVID-19, is embedded in Scotland's climate change legislation[11], and runs throughout the updated Climate Change Plan. The Plan sets out how fairness will be at the heart of our climate action, ensuring that individuals and communities are not left behind in the transition to net-zero.

A just transition puts people, communities and places at the heart of our approach to climate change action. It ensures we work together in order to capture opportunities, tackle existing inequalities and exclusion, whilst anticipating and mitigating risks to those worst impacted so no one is left behind. As the pace of the transformation increases, the need for a collaborative just transition becomes ever more important. This approach is at the heart of Scotland's ambitions to move to a wellbeing economy that prioritises society's wellbeing as the core aim of our economy.

In Scotland we have taken a broad approach to just transition, looking across the economy and the whole of Scotland. This recognises that the scale of the net-zero transition will impact everyone, but not equally. We need a plan to ensure that the decisions we are making take into account different circumstances and enable everyone to access and benefit from the opportunities of net-zero whilst supporting those potentially at risk from an unmanaged shift away from fossil fuels.

We established an independent Just Transition Commission[12] in 2018 to advise us on how we can maximise the economic and social opportunities of the transition, while managing the risks. We will maintain the Commission over the life of the current Parliament (up until 2026), ensuring this important source of advice and guidance remains in place.

Championing Climate Justice

Scotland's climate change legislation places the principle of climate justice, and the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, at the heart of the process for developing future Climate Change Plans. Simply put, our action on climate justice recognises that those who are amongst the most affected by climate change often have done the least to contribute to it and are the least equipped to adapt to its effects. In this, Scotland recognises that it has prospered as a result of greenhouse gas emissions and so contributed to past, present and future climate change impacts. As such Scotland understands it has a moral responsibility to secure climate justice, including through its support for those impoverished by, risking and experiencing the worst effects of climate change and by seeking a fairer distribution of the responsibilities, risks and opportunities of climate change and its actions at a global level.

Since 2012 the Scottish Government has placed a climate justice approach at the core of its international climate work through our Climate Justice Fund, as well as support for young people to become climate leaders and women from least developed countries attend and engage in the UN climate summits. Our approach recognises that an effective response must explicitly tackle existing inequalities such as wealth disparity and discrimination based upon gender, age, disability or indigenous status.

Scotland established the world's first and only government led international Climate Justice Fund (CJF) in 2012. The CJF is distinct from, and additional to, Scotland's International Development Fund, and acknowledges Scotland's commitment to international climate finance and recognition of its common but differentiated responsibilities in addressing the global impacts of climate change. The Fund reflects the ambition to respond to the priorities of impacted communities, and seeks to acknowledge and address climate injustice in three of the Scottish Government's International Development Partner nations; Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia. The CJF helps communities adapt and build resilience to climate change as well as empowering them to be at the forefront of tackling social injustices and the promotion of human rights. In recognition of the need for increased climate finance globally, the Scottish Government has committed to double the Fund over the next four years.

Public engagement at the heart of the national approach

In Scotland, we are committed to people being at the heart of all we do to tackle climate change and empowering people to be active in the decisions and actions that surround them. Scotland's climate change Public Engagement Strategy[13] sets out our approach to involving the Scottish people in our transition to net-zero and a more climate resilient society, and marks a step change towards supporting a society-wide transformation.

Placing people at the centre of climate action requires innovation in citizen engagement and decision making. The Scottish Government supports citizen-engagement in policy-making through an independently convened Citizens' Assembly on climate change[14]. Grounded in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, Scotland's Climate Assembly brought together over one hundred people, broadly representative of the Scottish population, to advise on, "How should Scotland change to tackle the climate emergency in an effective and fair way?" Their recommendations are embedded in the Parliamentary process, with their report (published June 2021) being laid in the Scottish Parliament and Ministers required to issue a comprehensive and cross-Government response in line with the requirements of the Act.

Nature-based solutions to tackle the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss

Scotland recognises the twin crises of climate and nature and the need to take an integrated approach. Nature-based solutions form a key part of the Scottish Government's overall approach to action on climate change by bringing together infrastructure, planning, land use, marine and economic strategies to promote and enhance new opportunities for generating multiple benefits from future land management and land use change. The alignment of strategies across government is also supported by significant investment in positive action through nature based solutions to support our net zero goals. The group of senior Environmental Champions to be appointed by the Scottish government before COP26 will help inform, advise and guide Scottish action to addressing the twin crises of biodiversity and climate.

Scotland's Environment Strategy[15] set out the overarching framework for the Scottish Government's strategies and plans on the environment and climate change. It sets out a 2045 vision for restoring

Scotland's natural environment and playing our full part in tackling the global climate and biodiversity crises. It also highlights the wider benefits this will create for Scotland's wellbeing, economy and global citizenship.

In February 2021, in publishing our new five-year Infrastructure Investment Plan[16] the Scottish Government changed its definition of infrastructure to include natural infrastructure - creating a more holistic view of the entirety of Scotland's infrastructure assets and recognising the wider contribution natural capital can have towards creating sustainable, attractive places to live and improve wellbeing; generating economic growth and also reducing carbon emissions. In preparation for the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Scotland has played a leadership role in leading the Edinburgh Process and publishing the Edinburgh Declaration[17], calling for increased global and local action to protect biodiversity.

We know that both public and private investment in Scotland's natural capital will be essential to deliver on Scotland's emissions reduction targets, and we are working in partnership with NatureScot, Forestry and Land Scotland, Scottish Forestry and others to explore opportunities for increasing private investment in Scotland's natural capital. This includes development of existing voluntary carbon markets and considering potential new mechanisms, such as a Scottish Carbon Fund and carbon price floor mechanism. This should bring additional finance to add to the £250 million over 10 years which has been committed by Scottish Government to peatland restoration.

The Scottish Government recognises the important role of our ocean in mitigating and adapting to climate change. Blue carbon habitats are particularly important for biodiversity and climate adaptation, such as protection against coastal erosion and flooding. Scottish Government officials are working with UK government colleagues on developing the evidence base to support the inclusion of two blue carbon habitats (saltmarsh and seagrass) within the UK Greenhouse Gas emissions inventory as soon as it is appropriate to do so.

Financing a just transition to net-zero

Reaching net-zero will require significant upfront investment - in modernised infrastructure, capital projects, preserving and restoring Scotland's natural capital, and modernising our building stock. Since setting our new emissions targets in the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction) (Scotland) Act 2019, the Scottish Government has made a series of major spending commitments for net-zero initiatives, especially accounting for the fiscal challenges posed by COVID-19, but the investment required cannot and should not be funded by the public purse alone. The Scottish Government is committed to using public policies and investments to create an environment where new industries, markets and innovations can thrive, and where private investment is key to driving a just transition to net-zero by 2045.

The Scottish National Investment Bank has been established with a primary mission to support a just transition to net-zero by 2045. The Bank will play a key role in developing new net-zero markets, and will work with public, private and third sector partners to channel and crowd in additional investment. The Bank will actively seek to develop and deploy mechanisms to leverage its available capital and catalyse even greater investment in the Scottish economy.

In addition, the Scottish Government's Inward Investment Plan[18] is aimed at attracting company investment from overseas and other parts of the UK and we have identified Energy Transition and Decarbonisation of Transport as priority areas for attracting the businesses and technologies that will help us drive progress towards our climate change targets and a just transition to net zero. The Capital Investment Plan will take a systematic approach to turning our sectoral ambitions into investable projects that can attract finance and deliver net-zero across Scotland.

The Green Growth Accelerator, launched in June 2020, is an innovative funding model demonstrating the Scottish Government's ambitious and integrated approach with local authorities. The programme will unlock an additional investment for emissions-reducing infrastructure to support our transition, with outcomes focussed on carbon emissions reductions, unlocking net zero and just transition, while targeting growth in green jobs.

Whilst financial disclosures made by private sector organisations are not within the control of Scottish Government, in line with Scottish Government's commitment to positive action on climate change, the Scottish Government is beginning work with local government through the scheme advisory board to explore an appropriate approach to financial disclosures that focuses on managing climate related financial risks.

Trade as a lever to increase progress towards net-zero globally

In 2021, the Scottish Government published Scotland's Vision for Trade[19] where we set out the principles and values for the trading relationships we want our country to have, now and in the future. One of our five key principles is that trade policy should be used to progress towards our target to reduce Scotland's emissions to net-zero by 2045.

We will also use our trade levers to support the transition from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy, by ending all Scottish Government overseas trade support and promotion activities solely focused on fossil fuel goods and services by COP26, and instead refocus this support towards sustainable energy transition activities.

Working in collaboration with our international partners to deliver global change

We recognise that global cooperation is integral in responding to the climate crisis and to support delivery of the Paris Agreement. As European Co-Chair and an active member of the Under2 Coalition[20], one of our objectives is to increase climate ambition and action within the coalition ahead of COP26, demonstrating the important role states and regions have to play in reaching net zero and working towards increased visibility and influence of states and regions in the international climate process. This includes building on the Scottish government funded Net Zero Futures Initiative[21] launched in March 2021. The initiative is open to all states and regions including those not members of the Under2 and aims to build capacity of, and equip states and regions with the best available knowledge, science and international expertise on net zero target setting and pathways towards net zero emissions.

The Scottish Government's network of eight overseas offices promotes Scotland's unique contribution to combating climate change by building connections and sharing our knowledge, skills and technical expertise with our international partners.

The Scottish Government's Hydro Nation strategy recognises Scotland must reach out to the world to share knowledge and expertise and invite collaboration that aligns with key commitments including supporting delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Net Zero agenda. Hydro Nation works closely with the Government of Malawi to help make Sustainable Development Goal 6 in respect of water and wastewater provision a reality through a joint programme focussed on water resource management, governance and legislation. Achievements to date include the mapping of all of Malawi's rural water points and related sanitation points to create for the first time a homogenous dataset from which evidence-based SDG6 and water resources planning can be implemented by the Government of Malawi. Peer-to-peer knowledge sharing on key issues historically informed the development of water legislation introduced by both countries, and ongoing dialogue on locally-assessed needs will inform the next phase of Scottish Government Hydro Nation support that is expected to identify further opportunities for joint working focussed on governance as we continue to support the establishment and development of Malawi's National Water Resources Authority and Environment Protection Agency.

Scotland is the world's northernmost non-Arctic nation. Combined with other environmental threats - such as pollution, sea level rise and erosion - climate change is having a devastating impact on the High North. A rapidly warming Arctic has direct consequences for the Scottish ecosystems. Our Arctic policy framework[22] encourages policy and knowledge exchange between Scotland and its Arctic neighbours to develop joint solutions to shared climate challenges and to increase the resilience of local communities. Scotland is home to Europe's largest glaciology group SURGE (Scottish University Research in Glacial Environments), attracting world-renowned researchers who carry out regular studies on the Greenland ice sheet and the glaciers of Svalbard. In addition, organisations such as Scottish Natural Heritage, Marine Scotland Science, the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) and the Environmental Research Institute have long collated evidence that is being used to monitor the environmental changes occurring in the Arctic. In addition, the policy framework appeals to the wider international community to increase collective action, accelerate decarbonisation and jointly build a sustainable future for all.

The Scottish Government is a founding member of the Wellbeing Economy Governments (WEGo) network, alongside New Zealand, Iceland, Wales, and Finland. The group collaborates in pursuit of innovative policy approaches aimed at enhancing wellbeing and addressing the pressing economic, social and environmental challenges of our time. The discussions through regular Policy Labs have inspired and strengthened our measuring and analytical frameworks in the area of wellbeing economy. The most recent Policy Lab in 2021 focused on Climate Change and integrating environmental considerations into economic policy.

Scotland's Energy Strategy recognises the importance of working with international partners to better understand the transition to a net zero economy, and commits Scottish Government to support internationalisation efforts in relation to energy.

We will continue to develop and strengthen our collaborations with international partners to support a global transition to net-zero that is fair and just, and leaves no-one behind. Scotland can play an active role in promoting innovation in sustainable energy use throughout Europe, and beyond, and we want to develop collaborations with a range of partners to tackle common challenges. As we continue to work towards our emissions reduction targets, opportunities for global growth in new innovations and emerging technologies, like the development of a hydrogen economy, must also be maximised.



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