Scottish greenhouse gas emissions annual target report: 2017

This report, required under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, provides detail on Scotland's annual climate change emissions reduction targets.


This is the eighth report on the Scottish greenhouse gas emissions annual target required under section 33 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 ('the Act'), and relates to the 2017 target year. It also fulfils the requirement under section 38 of the Act to report on the impact on emissions resulting from the exercise of electricity generation related functions (see Part 4).

The new Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill will amend these sections of the Act, as well as Scotland's emissions reduction targets, when it becomes law. Reporting on target years from 2018 onwards will occur under the requirements of the amended Climate Change (Scotland) Act.

For the purposes of this report, reporting requirements under section 33 of the Act have been separated into four parts as follows:

Part 1: Annual and Domestic Effort Targets

Part 1 of this report shows that the annual target for 2017 was missed. The domestic effort target for 2017 was met by virtue of the fact that no international carbon units were purchased to offset domestic emissions.

Part 2: Net Scottish Emissions

Part 2 of this report contains information on net Scottish emissions."Net Scottish emissions" are defined in the Act as the amount of "Scottish emissions", reduced by the amount of "Scottish removals" of a greenhouse gas.

"Scottish emissions" covers all emissions from sources territorially located within Scotland, plus Scotland's share of mobile transport emissions, including domestic and international aviation and shipping.

"Scottish removals" refer to the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by carbon sinks. Carbon sinks are defined by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as "any process, activity or mechanism which removes a greenhouse gas, an aerosol or a precursor of a greenhouse gas from the atmosphere" – for instance woodlands.

In 2017, net Scottish emissions are estimated to have been 40,521,593 tCO2e. This was 3.3 per cent lower than the 2016 figure of 41,896,650 tCO2e, or a 1,375,057 tCO2e decrease. Between 1990 and 2017, there was a 46.8 per cent reduction in net Scottish emissions.

Part 3: The Net Scottish Emissions Account (NSEA)

Achievement of Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions targets is measured against the level of the net Scottish emissions account (NSEA). The NSEA is defined in the Act as the aggregate amount of "net Scottish emissions" of greenhouse gases, reduced/increased by the amount of carbon units credited to/debited from it in accordance with the Carbon Accounting Scheme Regulations made under the Act.

There are two mechanisms by which carbon units can be credited to/debited from the NSEA.

i. As the result of the operation of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) in Scotland. The details of this mechanism are set out in the Annex to this report.

ii. Ministers may credit to the NSEA any international carbon units purchased by them, thereby offsetting domestic emissions.

In 2017, 5,888,794 units were debited from the NSEA as a result of the operation of the EU ETS. No units were credited to the NSEA as a result of the purchase by Ministers of international carbon units. The NSEA figure was 46,410,387 tCO2e. The fixed annual target for 2017, as set by the Climate Change (Annual Targets) (Scotland) Order 2010, is to reduce emissions to 43,946,000 tCO2e. This means that the fixed annual target for 2017 was missed by 2,464,387 tCO2e.

Based on the NSEA, Scotland's emissions increased by 3.7 per cent in 2017 on the previous year. The longer term trend to date shows a reduction of 39.1 per cent from the 1990/1995 baseline period[1].

Part 4: Scottish electricity consumption and generation

Part 4 of this report shows that in 2017, gross electricity consumption was 30,590 GWh. In 2017, Scottish electricity generation was 48,678 GWh. In 2017, the average greenhouse gas emissions per megawatt hour of electricity generated was 24gCO2e/kWh.

Section 38 of the Act is also reported on in this section. This requires a report in respect of each year in the period 2010-2050 that, in so far as reasonably practicable, sets out the impact on net Scottish emissions during that year resulting from the exercise by the Scottish Ministers of the functions conferred on them by virtue of any enactment relating to electricity generation.

In 2017, nine projects in Scotland were consented after consideration under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989. They all related to onshore wind projects (totalling 621 MW) . There were a further three projects licensed by Marine Scotland (in addition to those licensed under section 36 of the Electricity Act), one of which was an offshore wind project (50 MW), and two of which were tidal projects (3.4 MW).

Results of modelling suggest that these consented projects, should they become operational, could reduce GB system wide carbon emissions by an estimated 0.71 MtCO2 in the year 2023.



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