Net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target year: information and analysis

Information and analysis paper to support discussion of the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill.

Section 3: Independent, expert advice

The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 established the principles of an evidence-based approach to setting targets. In particular, it gave a statutory role to an independent body – the UK Committee on Climate Change ( CCC) – to provide regular expert advice to the Scottish Ministers. Committee members are experts in the fields of climate change, science, economics, behavioral science and business and have a statutory duty to act impartially and objectively.

The Scottish Government sought, and received in March 2017, advice from the CCC in preparation of the Bill. The advice is available at:

The key recommendation from the CCC was that Scotland should either “keep the target for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 80% by 2050 with subsequent reviews to increase ambition” or “set a ‘stretch’ target for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 90% by 2050”. The CCC advised that “a net-zero target for all greenhouse gases should not be set now, but the possibility to set one in the future should be allowed in the new Bill.”

Excerpts from the UK Committee on Climate Change’s advice

“Scotland’s existing 2050 target is for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 80% on 1990. It is designed as a contribution towards a global effort to limit temperature rise to close to 2°C, and is already stretching. Setting more ambitious targets now to align to the aims of the Paris Agreement would require actions that are currently at the very limit of feasibility.”

“A 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be more consistent with the temperature limits set out in the Paris Agreement.”

“A reduction in GHG [Greenhouse Gas] emissions of 90% would require strong progress in every sector and is at the limit of the pathways currently identified to reduce Scottish emissions. By adopting a more ambitious 2050 target than currently exists for Scotland, or for the UK as a whole, it would be important to identify the areas in which Scotland will go further than the rest of the UK”.


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