Climate Change Plan: third report on proposals and policies 2018-2032 (RPP3)

This plan sets out the path to a low carbon economy while helping to deliver sustainable economic growth and secure the wider benefits to a greener, fairer and healthier Scotland in 2032.


How we got here

The table below summarises the milestones from the Scottish Government's Climate Change Delivery Plan publication in June 2009, through to the publication of this Climate Change Plan.

Date Milestone
June 2009 The Scottish Government's Climate Change Delivery Plan published.
June 2009 Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament.
February 2010 Committee on Climate Change ( CCC) advice to the Scottish Government on the 2020 interim target and annual emissions targets 2010-2022.
May 2010 The Climate Change (Limit on Carbon Units) (Scotland) Order 2010, setting carbon unit limits 2010-2012.
October 2010 The Climate Change Annual Targets (Scotland) Order 2010, setting annual emissions reduction targets 2010-2022.
November 2010 The Scottish Government's draft First Report on Proposals and Policies ( RPP1) laid in the Scottish Parliament for scrutiny.
March 2011 The Scottish Government's Low Carbon Scotland – Meeting our Emissions Reduction Targets 2010-2022 ( RPP1) published.
July 2011 CCC advice to Scottish Ministers on the second batch of annual targets 2023-2027 received.
August 2011 CCC advice to Scottish Ministers on setting carbon unit limits 2013-2017 received.
October 2011 The Scottish Government's Climate Change Annual Targets (Scotland) Order 2011 setting the annual emissions targets 2023-2027.
December 2011 The Climate Change (Limit on Carbon Units) (Scotland) Order 2011, setting carbon unit limits 2013-2017.
January 2012 CCC's first annual progress report, Reducing Emissions in Scotland, published.
October 2012 The Scottish Government's First Annual Report, The Scottish Greenhouse Gas Emissions Annual Target 2010, published.
January 2013 The Scottish Government's draft Second Report on Proposals and Policies ( RPP2) laid in the Scottish Parliament for scrutiny.
June 2013 The Scottish Government's Low Carbon Scotland – Meeting our Emissions Reductions Targets 2013-2027 – Second Report on Proposals and Policies ( RPP2), published.
March 2016 CCC advice to Scottish Ministers on the third batch of annual targets 2028-2032 received.
July 2016 CCC updated advice to Scottish Ministers on the third batch of annual targets.
October 2016 The Climate Change (Annual Targets) (Scotland) Order 2016.
October 2016 The Climate Change (Limit on Use of Carbon Units) (Scotland) Order 2016.
January 2017 The Scottish Government's Draft Climate Change Plan – the draft Third Report on Proposals and Policies 2017-2032 ( RPP3) laid in the Scottish Parliament for scrutiny.
September 2017 CCC published its progress report, 'Reducing emissions in Scotland'.
February 2018 The Scottish Government's Climate Change Plan, Third Report on Proposals and Policies 2018-2032 ( RPP3), published.

Committee on Climate Change – Reducing emissions in Scotland – 2017 progress report

The Committee on Climate Change publishes an annual report on progress towards meeting Scottish climate change targets. The Committee published its sixth report in September 2017 and observed that Scotland continues to perform well on climate change mitigation, outperforming the rest of the UK. However, it noted that progress to date has come largely from the power sector and the Committee advised that more effort is now needed in other sectors if our ambition – "amongst the highest in the world" – is to continue being delivered.

The Committee's report also offered its assessment of the draft Plan. The report was positive on the policies and trajectories for many sectors. The Committee's recommendations around re-balancing effort between the transport and renewable heating sectors are largely reflected in this final Plan.

The Climate Change Plan and the Energy Strategy

The Scottish Government's Energy Strategy should be regarded as a free-standing companion document to this Climate Change Plan.

In developing the Scottish Energy Strategy, the Scottish Government has set out its ambitious 2050 vision for energy supply and use in Scotland, aligned with our greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

The Scottish Energy Strategy explores the development of the main characteristics of the energy system between now and 2050 under two stylised scenarios of the 2050 energy system, acknowledging that we cannot prescribe an exact energy mix for 2050. These two relatively stylised scenarios, which are consistent with the current long term greenhouse gas targets, help us to articulate a clearer understanding of the choices that lie ahead and provide opportunities to demonstrate and consider alternative sources of low carbon energy supply that are not yet certain enough to include in the Plan, such as hydrogen with Carbon Capture and Storage. The scenarios are designed to help us understand what infrastructure and behaviours might be required under different future energy mixes.

The Scottish Energy Strategy commits to undertaking further work to establish where, with the right support and leadership from government, the emerging fuel sources and technologies explored in the Strategy can be credible alternatives in the future.

Stakeholder engagement

In developing this final Plan, the Scottish Government undertook a wide range of engagement with stakeholders. Details are provided in a letter sent by the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform to the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee on the Scottish Parliament's website [155] .

Climate Change Plan Advisory Group

In developing the final Plan, we also benefitted from the advice of our Climate Change Plan Advisory Group, set up in June 2017 to act as a sounding board and critical friend. The Group consisted of representatives from the following organisations:

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland
Scottish Futures Trust
Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation
Transform Scotland
Royal Town and Planning Institute
Scottish Land and Estates
Local Energy Scotland
Energy Saving Trust
The University of Edinburgh

Strategic Environmental Assessment

The Climate Change Plan has been influenced by a Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA), carried out in accordance with the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005. The purpose of SEA is to minimise potential negative effects of plans and strategies on the environment and to enhance positive effects. All documents associated with the SEA process for the Climate Change Plan are available on the Scottish Government's SEA database [156] .

Definitions: policy outcomes, policies, development milestones and proposals

For the purpose of this Plan:

A policy outcome is a measure of change on the ground, resulting from a policy or combination of related policies.

A policy is a committed course of actions which has been wholly decided upon, and to which a policy outcome can be attributed to with a reasonable level of confidence.

A policy development milestone is a government action which is needed to progress or develop a final policy that will reduce emissions in a particular sector.

A proposal is a suggested course of action or exploratory action, the details of which might change as this course of action is exploed further. It is not possible to confidentily attribute the realisation of a policy outcome to a proposal until it is converted to a policy.


Part I and Part 2

Adjusted emissions – Greenhouse gas emissions that have taken into account purchases/sales through the EU ETS. Adjusted emissions may be higher or lower than actual emitted emissions depending on the quantity of purchases or sales. Progress against emissions reduction targets under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 is assessed using adjusted emissions.

Decarbonisation – The process of reduction or removal of carbon from energy production.

Ecosystem services – Ecosystem services are vital to society and the economy, providing benefits such as the food we eat, the water we drink, climate regulation, carbon storage, natural flood defences, pollutant control, timber and crop pollination; and less tangible benefits such as aesthetic enjoyment, recreational and educational value.

Emissions envelope – TIMES produces an envelope that limits emissions for each sector.

Fossil fuel – A fuel derived from geological deposits of plant and animal remains, such as coal, oil, or natural gas.

ISM Approach – A tool developed to understand all of the contexts that shape people's behaviours – the individual, the social and the material. By understanding the different contexts and the multiple factors within them that influence the way we act every day, more effective policies and interventions can be developed.

Low carbon – Causing or resulting in only a relatively small net release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Natural capital – A country's stock of natural resources and environmental assets including plants, animals, air, water, soils and minerals. People derive a wide range of benefits from natural capital. These benefits are often called "ecosystem services".

Paris Agreement – The UNFCCC's Paris Agreement sets a global ambition for tackling climate change. The current pledge under the Paris Agreement to limit the global average temperature rise to less than 2° Celsius requires governments around the world to take action to decarbonise their economies, while striving to keep the temperature rise to 1.5° Celsius.

Territorial emissions – Emissions produced within a country's territory or economic sphere.

TIMES – A Whole System Energy Model ( WSEM) that aims to capture the main characteristics of an energy system and are particularly useful for understanding the strategic choices required to decarbonise an economy. The Scottish TIMES model is a high-level model, covering the entire Scottish energy system, as well as non-energy sectors, including Agriculture, Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry, and Waste. It contains many thousands of variables covering existing and future technologies, fuels and abatement measures, such as availability, cost and greenhouse gas emissions factors.


Bioenergy – A renewable energy source created from natural, biological sources, such as wood, sugarcane, or straw.

Carbon Capture and Storage – The process of trapping carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels or other chemical or biological process and storing it in such a way that it is unable to affect the atmosphere.

Contracts for Difference – A Contract for Difference is a form of subsidy support for UK renewable electricity and low carbon generation.

Feed-in tariff – The Feed-in tariff is a form of subsidy support designed to promote the uptake of small-scale renewable and low carbon electricity generation technologies across the UK.

Nuclear energy – The energy produced through nuclear fusion or fission to produce electricity.

Renewable energy – Energy produced from sources that are not depleted when used, such as solar, wind, and hydro.

Renewables obligation – The Renewable Obligation is a form of subsidy support for large-scale renewable electricity projects in the UK. The Renewables Obligation (Scotland) is devolved to the Scottish Government.


Fuel-efficient driver training – The FuelGood driver training helps employees save on fuel costs, lower their carbon emissions and drive more safely.

Mode Shift Revenue Support – Assists companies with the operating costs associated with running rail or inland water freight instead of road.


Carbon leakage – Occurs when industry relocates to countries with less stringent environmental regulation, resulting only in displacement of emissions rather than a reduction, at no benefit to the environment, or the Scottish economy.

EU Emissions Trading System – The EU ETS is a 'cap and trade' system, aimed at mitigating climate change by limiting greenhouse gas emissions from power and heat generation, energy-intensive industry sectors and commercial aviation. Participants include more than 11,000 heavy energy-using installations in power generation, the manufacturing industry and airlines across 31 countries in the European Economic Area ( EEA). As the number of emission allowances decreases over time, prompting industries to adopt low carbon technologies, the EU ETS will be the primary driver of emissions reductions in the traded sector in Scotland.

Steam Methane Reforming – Most of the hydrogen produced today is made via steam-methane reforming, a mature production process in which high temperature steam is used to produce hydrogen from a methane source, such as natural gas.


Circular Economy – An alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life. [157]

Flaring technology – Flaring involves the combustion of landfill gas (primarily methane) – with recovery of the energy content, where appropriate – to form an off-gas, which is acceptable for direct discharge to atmosphere.

Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry

Blue Carbon – stocks of carbon in marine environments accumulated over long timescales through natural processes.

Carbon sequestration – The removal and storage of carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks (such as oceans, forests or soils).


Anaerobic Digestion – The break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen.

Enteric fermentation – The digestive process of ruminant animals such as cows.

Silvo-management – The management and maintenance of trees/woodlands/forestry.


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