Supply chain emissions: call to action - letter to public sector chief officers

Letter from Minister for Trade, Innovation and Public Finance, Ivan McKee MSP, and Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, to all public sector chief officers.


This letter was issued 18 March 2021 to encourage chief officers to recognise public procurement efforts to address supply chain emissions and tackle the global climate emergency. Further developments to the guidance referenced here can be found in SPPN 3/2022.

To chief officers in the public sector,

Global climate emergency - call to action on supply chain emissions

As recognised by the First Minister, COSLA, local authorities and public bodies across Scotland, there is a global climate emergency, and this emergency has not gone away.

While COVID-19 has rightly been the focus of governments across the world, we remain absolutely committed to ending our contribution to climate change by 2045. The pandemic has shown us how abrupt and unplanned shifts can exacerbate inequalities prevalent in our society. We need a green recovery which promotes inclusive growth, creates opportunities for all, and supports and accelerates a just transition towards a net-zero economy.

Our public sector has played a key leadership role in a 50% cut in Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions – for example the NHS in Scotland has cut buildings’ emissions by 62% since 1990 and other public bodies have achieved headline emissions cuts of 40-50% or more. We are writing to thank you for your efforts so far, and to seek your continued leadership and support in this national endeavor through strong action you can take in relation to the £12.6 billion public sector supply chain.

Since 2011, public bodies have been under a legal duty to contribute to the delivery of Scotland’s national emissions reduction targets and the importance of procurement activity by public bodies has been enshrined in Scotland’s climate law. Consultation in 2019 saw strong support for public bodies being required to set targets for reducing indirect emissions. In response, we have strengthened our legislative framework through new regulations, which came into force on 9 November, requiring public bodies to report on, where applicable, “targets for reducing indirect emissions of greenhouse gases” and to report how they align spending and use of resources with emissions reduction effort.

On 16 December, the Scottish Government published its Climate Change Plan Update to support Scotland’s green recovery and help deliver a just transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

Public procurement efforts to address the Climate Emergency are being progressed by the cross-sector Climate and Procurement Forum. The Forum has been central to recent publication of a policy note SPPN 1/2021 on taking account of climate and circular economy considerations in public procurement, and in developing, testing and launching Climate Literacy eLearning.

Procurement officials already drive and influence climate outcomes through contracts and supply chains, however a whole organisation approach is required locally to gain stronger traction. Working with climate and procurement leaders from across the public sector in Scotland we have developed key messages to inform and advance public bodies’ approach to tackling the global climate emergency through procurement. These are attached (Annex B) and we hope they will be helpful in cementing this message and achieving our mutual aims.

Ivan McKee and Roseanna Cunningham



Telephone: 0300 244 4000


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