Scottish Greenhouse Gas Statistics 2021

Official statistics showing emissions of greenhouse gases in Scotland over the period 1990 to 2021.

Scottish Greenhouse Gas Statistics 2021

There are two measures of greenhouse gases presented in this release:

Source Emissions

A net measure of the actual emissions and removals of greenhouse gases in Scotland. Includes international aviation and shipping.

This measure can be used for UK and international comparisons.

  • 41.6 MtCO2e in 2021
  • Down 49.2% from 1990
  • Up 2.4% from 2020

Emissions For Reporting Against Targets

The Committee for Climate Change (CCC) recommended a new method of reporting emissions for the purposes of monitoring performance against targets for the June 2020, and future, publications. This is known as the GHG Account and the calculation is detailed in section C.

  • Down 49.9% from baseline period

On this adjusted basis, the GHG account reduced by 49.9 per cent between the baseline period and 2021. The Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019 specifies a target reduction of 51.1 per cent reduction over the same period.

Therefore the interim target for 2021 has not been met.

Figures have been revised since last year’s release to incorporate methodological improvements and new data

MtCO2e refers to million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. This is a consistent measure of assessing the contribution of greenhouse gases to global warming.

The Baseline Period uses 1990 for carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide and 1995 for hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride and nitrogen trifluoride.

Chart 1: Scottish Greenhouse Gas Emissions, 1990 to 2021.
Line chart of long-term emissions over 1990 to 2021 - indicating a strong downward trend.

In 2021, Scottish source emissions of the basket of seven greenhouse gases were estimated to be 41.6 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e). This is 2.4 per cent higher than the 2020 figure of 40.6 MtCO2e; a 1.0 MtCO2e increase.

The main contributors to this increase between 2020 and 2021 were increased emissions in Domestic Transport (+1.1 MtCO2e) following the impact of the COVID lockdown in 2020, and residential (+0.4 MtCO2e) sectors. Emissions reductions were seen in Energy (-0.5 MtCO2e), Business (-0.2 MtCO2e) and International Aviation and Shipping (-0.1 MtCO2e) sectors. All remaining sectors showed relatively modest increases in the latest year.

Between 1990 and 2021, there was a 49.2 per cent reduction in estimated emissions, a 40.3 MtCO2e decrease. The most significant contributors to this overall reduction were:

  • Reduction in Energy Supply emissions (such as power stations) (-16.8 MtCO2e; 77.6 per cent reduction)
  • ‘Land Use, Land Use Change And Forestry’ (LULUCF) reducing its net emissions over the period, reducing by 5.7 MtCO2e since 1990.
  • Reduction in Waste Management emissions (such as Landfill) (-5.0 MtCO2e; a 76.2 per cent reduction)
  • Reduction in Business emissions (-4.2 MtCO2e; a 35.3 per cent reduction)
  • Reduction in Domestic transport emissions (-2.6 MtCO2e; a 19.3 per cent reduction).

All other sectors have demonstrated a reduction in emissions since 1990.

More details can be found in Section B.

Revisions To Greenhouse Gas Emissions Statistics

Note that as part of this release all of the figures have been revised since the previous publication, to incorporate methodological improvements and new data. Comparing these 2021 figures with the 2020 figures published a year ago will therefore give a different year-on-year percentage change; one which is incorrect and should not be used. The correct percentage changes are given in this publication and associated tables. Details of these revisions can be found later in this statistical release in Section D.



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