Scottish Budget 2024 to 2025: high level carbon assessment

Estimate of the consumption-based carbon emissions associated with planned budget expenditure.

1. Introduction

1. This assessment is based on the expenditure data presented in the 2024-25 Budget and fulfils the statutory requirement under Section 94 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 to report upon the emissions impact of expenditure proposals.

2. It provides a limited overview of emissions and does not, for example, provide any indication as to the consequential impact of specific policies. Annex G of the Scottish Budget instead provides a taxonomy assessment of the alignment of spend to Scottish Government Environmental Objectives and Emissions Targets.

3. Policies and expenditure under this assessment will only include their short run impacts. Care should therefore be taken in interpreting this assessment. For example, the assessment of the construction of a cycleway would include emissions generated in the construction, but would not capture the reduction in emissions from any resulting modal shift.

4. This assessment is presented in the backdrop of the improvements to the taxonomy presented in Annex G as a results of recommendations of the Scottish Government and Parliament's Joint Budget Review. These improved assessments will better help to incorporate Climate Change in budget decisions as well as demonstrate how SG spend achieves its climate objectives..

1.1. Scope of Assessment

5. The high-level carbon assessment of the Budget captures the emissions associated with the Scottish Government's purchase of goods and services. It is a consumption-based measure that covers direct emissions (e.g. the production of gravel for roads constructed by the Government or generation of electricity used by Government) and also any imported emissions that are generated in producing the direct and indirect goods and services that the Government purchases.

6. As mentioned above, the assessment does not take account of 'second-round' emissions. While we do include emission impacts associated with Government spend and its supply chain, we do not count the emissions or savings associated with all of the outcomes arising from this spending. For example, while the Carbon Assessment could include an estimate of the carbon associated with the cost of constructing a road, the carbon associated with the subsequent use of the road is not included. This is better captured in Annex G of the Scottish Budget.

7. The Scottish Government also uses a range of other tools, during the policy development stage, to quantify emissions impacts over the policy/project lifetime. These tools include Strategic Environmental Assessments. The Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 requires that every qualifying public plan, programme and strategy is considered for its likely environmental effects and, where likely to be significant, opportunities to avoid adverse impacts are sought and positive ones enhanced. Results are published in the Environmental Reports within the Strategic Environmental Assessment database: Environmental assessment: Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) - ([1]

8. Further tools include Environmental Statements, which are required to assess the environmental effects of certain public and private projects under the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017, which update the requirements in the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984. The Carbon Account for Transport also provides a balance sheet for Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions, and the expected emissions impacts of major transport infrastructure projects and regulatory measures. The latest Transport Carbon Account is available at the following link: Carbon Account for Transport - No. 12: 2020 Edition[2]

9. The combined effect of Scottish Government policies to reduce emissions over the period to 2032 is set out in the Climate Change Plan update, published in December 2020. This is due to be updated in the draft Climate Change Plan to be laid in parliament in 2024.

10. Although the methodology underpinning the Carbon Assessment of the Budget remains the same as for the Carbon Assessment of the 2023-24 Budget, the base year of Environmental Input-Output (EIO) model itself has been updated from 2018 to 2019. This is possible because of the newly available input-output analytical tables covering the year 2019 for Scotland and the UK. As usual the model has also been updated to use the latest available Greenhouse Gas emissions ratios and HM Treasury deflators. More information about these changes and their effects on the overall GHG estimates can be found in Annex A.

11. The 2024-25 budget introduces the IFRS16 accounting standard. This standard introduces a single lessee accounting model that requires a lessee to recognise assets representing its right to use the underlying leased asset and lease liabilities representing its obligation to make lease payments for all leases with a term of more than 12 months, unless the underlying asset is of low value. The consequences of this change is that there is a movement of resource spend into the capital budget, and as such, means that any comparison with previous Carbon Assessments should be treated with caution.

1.2. Key Results

12. The summary of the analysis below are subject to the scope and limitations of the analysis as discussed above.

13. Following the approach set out in section 1.1, it is estimated that total emissions attributed to the 2024-25 Budget amount to 8.6 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e).

14. This has increased slightly from 8.4 Mt when applying the updated Environmental Input-Output model to last year's 2023-24 Budget. However, due to the switch to the IFRS16 accounting standard, these estimates are not directly comparable.

15. Details on the various sources of emissions show that some 28 per cent of the Scottish Government's carbon footprint is caused by the use of Energy, Water and Waste, followed by Manufacturing (20 per cent) and Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (18 per cent).

16. It is estimated that total emissions attributed to capital investment plans of £6.4 billion of investment in 2024-25 amount to 0.9 MtCO2e. Note that these are the emissions associated with putting the capital investment in place and not their long term use. Emissions associated with resource spend amount to 7.7 MtCO2e.

17. Annex G of the Budget document presents an alternative assessment of the budget that reviews the alignment of spend with SG climate objectives based on long-term impact of spend. This taxonomy-based assessment shows that around 9% of budget spend is positively aligned with the delivery of the Scottish Government's climate objectives. 2% is negatively aligned, primarily delivering road and livestock investments which support emission generating activity. The vast majority of spend, 72%, is neutral delivering on core objectives which generate relatively little emissions domestically but may have higher emissions when evaluated in consumption terms; This is primarily healthcare and social funding. Local government funding (around 16% of the total) is excluded from the taxonomy assessment.

1.3. Budget Context

18. Budget for 2024-25 contains details of Total Managed Expenditure (TME) of £59.7 billion across portfolio areas. Expenditure is split between resources and capital expenditure, and Annually Managed Expenditure (AME). This is illustrated in Table 1.


It is estimated that total emissions resulting from the 2024-25 Budget will be 8.6 Mt CO2-equivalent.

This has increased slightly from 8.4 Mt when applying the updated Environmental Input-Output model to last year's 2023-24 Budget. However, due to the switch to the IFRS16 accounting standard, these estimates are not directly comparable.

'Second-round' emissions that may result from Government spending and the use of public goods and services, whether beneficial in terms of reducing emissions (e.g. spending on energy efficiency or afforestation) or negative in terms of increasing emissions (e.g. road use) are not captured. The separate Climate Change Assessment, annex G of the Budget sets out a results of a taxonomy-based assessment of the alignment of the Budget with Scottish Government's climate objectives including emissions reductions. This is also accompanied by increases to negatively aligned emissions spend.

Table 1: Total proposed budget for 2024-25
2024-25 Budget Resource



Financial Transactions

UK Funded AME

NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care 18,242.9 394.5 820.3 0.0 19,457.7 104.0 19,561.7
Social Justice 6,901.1 84.8 525.5 -30.8 7,480.6 0.4 7,481.0
Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy 457.1 27.3 593.2 192.9 1,270.5 0.0 1,270.5
Education and Skills 3,117.1 402.5 554.6 -8.9 4,065.3 804.3 4,869.5
Justice and Home Affairs 3,305.1 182.9 308.0 0.0 3,796.0 3.1 3,799.1
Transport, Net Zero and Just Transition 1,617.3 365.8 2,593.7 -2.2 4,574.6 0.6 4,575.2
Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands 915.6 26.7 150.3 0.0 1,092.6 0.0 1,092.6
Constitution, External Affairs & Culture 287.4 19.2 25.2 0.0 331.7 0.0 331.7
Deputy First Minister and Finance 9,139.3 23.2 667.6 25.0 9,855.1 6,490.4 16,345.5
Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service 203.4 9.9 9.7 0.0 222.9 0.0 222.9
Scottish Government 44,186.2 1,536.8 6,248.0 176.0 52,147.0 7,402.8 59,549.8
Scottish Parliament and Audit Scotland 136.9 15.7 2.0 0.0 154.6 2.0 156.6
Total Scotland 44,323.1 1,552.5 6,250.0 176.0 52,301.6 7,404.8 59,706.4
Table 2: Portfolio expenditure[3] (TME excluding non-cash items) and emissions
Portfolio Spend
Estimated GHG emissions
(thousands of tonnes of CO2 equivalent)
Domestic   Total
Direct Indirect Imported
NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care £19,063 331.1 433.7 977.7 1,742.6
Social Justice £7,568 298.8 161.9 1,058.9 1,519.7
Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy £1,243 15.5 27.1 108.0 150.7
Education and Skills £4,447 81.0 78.9 284.3 444.2
Justice and Home Affairs £3,690 73.5 92.6 192.6 358.7
Transport, Net Zero and Just Transition £4,167 484.9 89.3 550.2 1,124.4
Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands £1,061 832.8 140.2 206.3 1,179.3
Constitution, External Affairs & Culture £313 3.8 12.8 16.7 33.3
Deputy First Minister and Finance £15,967 827.2 440.4 759.0 2,026.6
Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service £213 4.6 5.6 11.2 21.4
Scottish Parliament and Audit Scotland £139 3.3 3.3 9.5 16.1
Total £57,872 2,956.4 1,485.9 4,174.6 8,616.9



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