Scottish Greenhouse Gas Statistics 2021

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

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Section E. Exclusions, Glossary and Acknowledgements

Why are some greenhouse gas emissions not considered in this statistics release?

The methods used to compile the Scottish Greenhouse Gas Inventory are consistent with international reporting and are therefore comparable to the greenhouse gas emission estimates reported by all other EU Member States and other Annex 1 parties[8] to the UNFCCC. All countries estimate and submit their greenhouse gas inventory estimates to be consistent with methods set out in international guidance for national inventory methods from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), known as the IPCC (2006) guidelines. The IPCC (2006) guidelines state that national inventories should report on all anthropogenic (human) emissions and removals of greenhouse gas emissions, as a result of human activities within a country’s territorial sphere.

However, there are some emissions and removals of carbon dioxide that occur as a result of short-cycle biogenic processes. This biocarbon has only recently been abstracted from the atmosphere before it is then re-released as carbon dioxide. In accordance with the IPCC (2006) guidelines, these emissions and sinks are therefore excluded from the greenhouse gas inventory, as they could lead to double counting. If countries do choose to estimate these biocarbon emissions, they are reported outside of the national inventory total, as a memo item to that country’s submission to the UNFCCC. This means that some sources and sinks of greenhouse gases are not included in the Scottish and UK inventory totals.

Examples of reasons for why some sources and sinks of greenhouse gases are not included in the greenhouse gas inventory

1. Due to short-cycle biocarbon (carbon only been recently abstracted from the atmosphere)

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from biomass combustion. For example, this includes CO2 emissions from biomass power stations
  • Process emissions in food and drink production. These include CO2 emissions from brewing, fermenting and malting and in the production of food.
  • CO2 emissions from biodegradable waste to landfill. Emissions are not estimated where they arise from biogenic sources of waste such as food. Fossil-derived organic matter (such as plastic) is assumed to be non-biodegradable and there are no emissions associated with its decomposition.

However, methane (CH4) emissions from biodegradable waste sent to landfill are considered in these greenhouse gas statistics as they are formed by the anaerobic (oxygen-free) decay of organic matter in solid waste disposal sites.

2. Where there has been no anthropogenic influence

  • Natural accumulation and storage of carbon in peatland. For emissions or removals of peatland to be considered for IPCC reporting, they require humans to alter the peatland – either through wetland drainage, rewetting, peatland extraction or through another land use change. The UK and Scotland has elected to include the IPCC (2006) Wetlands Supplement as part of their inventory reporting from the 1990-2019 vintage of the inventory:

3. Beyond the territorial definitions as prescribed by the IPCC (2006) reporting requirements

  • “Blue carbon”. Blue carbon refers to the carbon captured by the world's oceans and coastal ecosystems. The carbon captured by living organisms in oceans is stored in the form of biomass and sediments from mangroves, salt marshes and seagrasses. However, it should be noted that research in underway to being to develop estimates of the environmental changes resulting from changes to coastal wetlands environments.



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