Climate Change Plan 2018-2032 - update: strategic environmental assessment - draft

Draft strategic environmental assessment of the update to the Climate Change Plan 2018 to 2032. The appendices are available as a supporting file on this page.

Chapter 1 - Introduction


1.1 This Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Environmental Report (ER) has been prepared by LUC, on behalf of the Scottish Government, for the emerging update to the Climate Change Plan (CCP).

1.2 The update to the CCP (CCPu) “boosts” existing emissions reduction policies and proposals and/or identifies additional new policies and proposals to those currently set out in the Plan. The update builds on and complements the existing Plan, rather than replicating or superseding it in its entirety.

1.3 The initial update to the CCP was due to be laid in Parliament in April 2020, with a finalised version subject to SEA, however, due to the COVID-19 outbreak this work was necessarily postponed.

1.4 As the pandemic and associated lockdown unfolded, the Scottish Government anticipated the vital importance of economic and social recovery and the potential role that the CCPu could play in ensuring a green and resilient recovery from COVID-19. The CCPu therefore has two purposes; as a strategic document on green recovery, and providing a routemap for the Scottish Government to meet its climate change targets.

1.5 The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has highlighted the opportunity to turn the COVID-19 crisis into a defining moment in the fight against climate change, and has provided advice on delivering economic recovery that accelerates the transition to a cleaner, net-zero emissions economy, whilst strengthening resilience to the impacts of climate change. From an economic perspective, this could include investing in climate-resilient low-carbon infrastructure, job creation in low-carbon and climate-resilient industries, training and reskilling of the workforce.


1.6 The current Climate Change Plan: The Third Report on Policies and Proposals 2018-2032[1], published by the Scottish Government, outlines policies and proposals to meet the emission targets as outlined in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009[2] (“the 2009 Act”) to reduce carbon emissions by 42% by 2020 and by 80% by 2050 (1990 baseline), over the plan period of 2018 - 2032.

1.7 The Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019[3] (“the 2019 Act”) amends the 2009 Act, setting targets to reduce Scotland's emissions of all greenhouse gases to net-zero by 2045 at the latest. It includes interim targets for reductions of at least 56% by 2020, 75% by 2030, 90% by 2040.

1.8 The 2019 Act includes a range of measures to improve transparency of the targets, for example basing progress to meeting targets on actual emissions from all sectors of the Scottish economy. Duties in the 2009 Act requiring Scottish Ministers to lay regular “Climate Change Plans” (CCPs) in Parliament setting out their proposals and policies for meeting targets remain in place, but the details of this reporting duty are adjusted by the 2019 Act. For example, future CCPs will be required to include estimates of the costs and benefits of policies.

1.9 During the passage of the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill through Parliament, recommendations from the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee (ECCLR)[4] included that the CCP should be updated within six months of the Bill receiving Royal Assent. In April 2019, the First Minister declared a global climate emergency and committed to updating the CCP within six months of the 2019 Act receiving Royal Assent. The non-statutory update to the CCP was postponed in March 2020 in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Climate Change in Scotland

1.10 The UK Met Office’s most recent climate projections (UKCP18) suggest that under a high emissions scenario, by the 2070s, average temperatures in Central Scotland could be up to 4.8°C warmer in summer and 4.5°C warmer in winter. The expected increase in temperature is greatest in the south and east. There is greater uncertainty about precipitation, with projections suggesting that by 2070, summers could range from 40% drier to 8% wetter, whilst winters could range from 3% drier to 12% wetter. Scotland was 4% wetter in the most recent decade (2008-2017) compared to the 1981-2010 average. These trends vary across Scotland but increases in rainfall are likely to be most pronounced in the north and west.

1.11 The overall pattern of warming is expected to continue and is likely to be accompanied by changes in rainfall patterns and more frequent episodes of extreme weather including storms, flooding, drought and unseasonably hot or cold weather. Warmer temperatures will result in rising sea levels, coastal flooding and loss of land to the sea. The UKCP18 predicts that by the end of the century, sea levels at Edinburgh could be between 0.3m and 0.9m higher than the average for 1981-2000.

1.12 With increasing awareness of climate change, and the impact that it will have on society and the environment, Scotland has taken steps to reduce its overall contribution of greenhouse gases (GHG)s. Overall, between 1990 and 2016 there was a 49% reduction in GHG emissions in Scotland[5], with the main contributors to this reduction being the energy, waste and industrial sectors. Scotland's overall carbon footprint decreased by 6.9% between 2015 and 2016, to a record low of 73.8 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e)[6].

1.13 Over the period 1990-2017, GHG emissions from the electricity sector have reduced by 92%, due to renewable energy generation capacity increasing threefold. As of June 2019, there was 11.6GW of installed capacity across the country, and in 2017 51.7% of electricity generated was from renewable resources[7]. Over the same period, GHG emissions from the buildings and industrial sectors have fallen by 16% and 46%, respectively. Likewise, the waste sector saw a reduction of 72% in GHG emissions and the agricultural sector a 15% reduction.

1.14 Land use and forestry is a key sector with great potential to slow climate change, due to the potential for carbon sequestration. Reports suggest carbon sequestration totalled approximately 5.4MtCO2e in 2017, compared to 0.3 in 1990. This is primarily a result of increased woodland and forestry cover, and restoration of peatland. In 2018-2019, 58% more woodland was planted compared to the previous year, totalling 11,200ha. This equates to 84% of total woodland creation in the UK over this period. Likewise, between 2018-2019, 5,800ha of peatland were restored over the same period.

1.15 Despite the transport sector making improvements to reduce carbon emissions, including introducing low emission busses, further electrification of rail networks, promoting electric vehicles, and reducing the average emissions of new vehicles, the total emissions from the transport sector in 2017 (including aviation and shipping) had increased by 0.4% compared to 1990.

Current Climate Change Plan

1.16 The current Climate Change Plan: The Third Report on Policies and Proposals 2018-2032[8], identifies seven key sectors which contribute towards emissions and outlines the policies and proposals for each sector to meet the overall emission targets. The key sectors and a brief summary of the targets and policies are listed below:

  • Electricity: Policies seek the further decarbonisation of energy generation by supporting the development of a wide range of renewable energy technologies, seeking improvements to electricity generation and network asset management, encouraging the development of a range of technologies that aid system security, flexibility and resilience, and encouraging innovative energy systems which improve efficiencies and deliver secure, clean and affordable electricity. The overall target is to reduce emissions by 28% over the plan period.
  • Transport: Policies seek to the continued decarbonisation of transport by increasing the uptake of ultra-low carbon vehicles, reducing vehicle emissions including from heavier vehicles such as busses, HGVs and ferries, introducing low emission zones in larger cities, and investing more money in improving and promoting active travel. The overall target is to reduce transport related emissions by 37% over the plan period.
  • Industry: Policies seek to reduce industry emissions through a combination of fuel diversification, cost saving energy efficiency, heat recovery and participation in the EU Emissions Trading System. Additionally, policies seek to consider emerging Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU) and hydrogen opportunities. The overall target is to reduce industry emissions by 21% over the plan period.
  • Buildings: Policies seek to improve the energy efficiency of homes through use of insulation, secondary glazing and smart readers, and increase the use of low carbon fuels and heat technologies. The overall target is to reduce emissions by 33% over the period of the plan.
  • Agriculture: Policies seek to reduce agricultural emissions by promoting low carbon farming practices (including nutrient, fertiliser and manure and slurry management), efficient use of fertilisers, increasing carbon sequestration of farmland, and increasing education and awareness. The policies seek to reduce agricultural emissions by 9% over the plan period.
  • Waste: Policies seek to reduce, re-use and recycle more waste and capture gasses from landfill sites. This focus also aligns with Scotland’s circular economy ambitions. The overall target is to reduce emissions by 52% over the plan period.
  • Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry: Policies seek to increase forestry and woodland from 18% of Scotland's land area to 21%, resulting in an additional 18,000 ha of forestry and woodland plantation per year. In addition, policies seek the restoration of 20,000ha of peatland per annum, resulting in a carbon sink of -6.7MTCO2e by 2032.

Figure 1.1: Key sectors


Focuses on the decarbonisation of energy geenration by supporting the development of low carbon energy


Focuses on the continued decarbonisation of transport and encourages active travel


Supports improved energy efficiency and low carbon energy


Aims to improve energy efficiency and increase the uptake of low carbon heat technologies


Focuses on improving farm management, encouraging sustainable farming practices, and improving carbon sequestration


Aims to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and increase recyclingand re-use of materials


Aims to increase woodland area and use of renewable timber in construction, supports peatland restoration and enhance the carbon sink


Supports the use of negative emission technologies such as CCUS, hydrogen and biofuel

Update to the Climate Change Plan

1.17 The CCPu includes amendments to the scale and/or timescale of delivery for existing policies/proposals and additional new policies/proposals to those set out in the CCP to help achieve the overall emission reduction targets.

1.18 The CCPu continues to focus on the required seven key sectors: electricity, industry, buildings, transport, agriculture, waste, and land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF), and has included an eighth sector, Negative Emissions Technologies, for this update only.

1.19 Table 1.1 sets out the key facts about the update to the CCP.

Table 1.1: Key Facts

Responsible Authority

Scottish Government


Update to the Climate Change Plan 2018-2032: Securing a Green Recovery on a Path to Net Zero


Climate Change

Period Covered


Area covered by the policy


What prompted the preparation of the policy?

The Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) Act 2019 increased the level of ambition of greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets from that set out in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. In April 2019, the First Minister declared a global climate emergency and committed to updating the Climate Change Plan.

Purpose and/or objectives of the policy

The update to the Climate Change Plan sets out Scottish Government Proposals and Policies across a range of sectors for meeting greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets for 2020-2032. These sectors comprise: electricity, buildings, transport, industry, waste, land use change and forestry, agricultural and Negative Emissions Technologies. The update is an amendment to the existing Climate Change Plan and “boosts” existing carbon reduction policies and proposals and/or additional new policies and proposals to those currently set out in the Plan. The update builds on and complements the existing Plan, rather than replicating or superseding it in its entirety.

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

1.20 SEA is the process by which environmental considerations are required to be fully integrated into the preparation of plans, programmes or strategies prior to their final adoption. The SEA process identifies the likely significant environmental effects that the plan, programme or strategy will have on the environment if implemented.

1.21 SEA should begin at an early stage in a plan’s preparation, as it is important that the future consultation on the plan and the Environmental Report takes place when ideas are forming, and policy options are still being actively considered. SEA was undertaken on the emerging updates with the first iteration being prepared in spring 2020 and followed by the assessment of the CCPu in autumn 2020, recast around a green recovery.

Requirement for SEA

1.22 The requirement for SEA is outlined by the EU SEA Directive 2001/42/EC or ‘SEA Directive’. The SEA Directive is implemented in Scotland by the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005[9]. The 2005 Act requires Scottish public bodies or those exercising functions of a public character (Responsible Authorities) to undertake a SEA when preparing plans, if it is likely to have significant environmental effects.

Stages in SEA

1.23 The SEA process comprises a number of stages as identified below.

Screening – determining whether a plan requires a SEA.

Scoping – establishing significant environmental topics and setting the environmental baseline. Requires a formal consultation with the Consultation Authorities “to identify the scope and level of detail to be reflected in an Environmental Report”.

Environmental Assessment – assessing the potential environmental impact of the plan; developing alternatives where necessary; and, consulting on both the draft plan and ER.

Post-Adoption Statement – setting out how the assessment and the consultation results have been considered within the finalised plan. Developing the monitoring strategy to assess progress once adopted.

Monitoring – monitoring the significant environmental effects of the implementation of the plan and identifying any unforeseen adverse effects at an early stage in order to undertake appropriate remedial action.

Purpose of the Environmental Report

1.24 The ER outlines the findings from the assessment of the CCPu and identifies any likely significant effects (positive or negative) of implementing the update to the CCP. The ER:

  • assesses the impact of new outcomes/policies/ proposals to meet the GHG emissions reduction targets covered by the update to the CCP; and
  • identifies the likely impacts of “boosts” to current outcomes/policies/proposals in the form of increased scale or shortened timescales for delivery.

1.25 This ER presents an update to the baseline information and a review of relevant plans, programmes and strategies (PPSs)[10] from the original ER.

Structure of the Environmental Report

1.26 This ER is structured to be compliant with the reporting requirements of the SEA Act:

  • Non-Technical Summary – provides a non-technical summary of the information contained in the Environmental Report.
  • Chapter 1 Introduction – describes the background to the update to the Climate Change Plan and outlines its content; the purpose of SEA and the Environmental Report; key dates and milestones; and, the structure of the Environmental Report.
  • Chapter 2 Approach to the Assessment – describes the method used in carrying out the SEA. The next iteration of the ER will outline the approach to reasonable alternatives and will describe any difficulties encountered and data limitations.
  • Chapter 3 Context of the update to the Climate Change Plan - describes links to other plans, programmes, strategies and environmental protection objectives and the environmental baseline.
  • Chapters 4 - SEA Findings - the next iteration of the ER will identify environmental problems and presents the finding from the assessment of the update to the CCP and reasonable alternatives.
  • Chapter 5 Mitigation and Enhancement – the next iteration of the ER will describe the mitigation measures that have been considered and incorporated to avoid or mitigate any potential (significant) adverse impacts.
  • Chapter 6 Monitoring – presents a proposed framework for monitoring the significant effects identified in the Environmental Report.
  • Chapter 7 Next Steps – sets out information on the consultation including how to provide views on the Environmental Report and how these responses will be taken into account in the finalisation of the draft update to the Climate Change Plan.

1.27 The main body of the report is supported by the following appendices:

  • Appendix A – Consultation Authority responses.
  • Appendix BSEA Assessment matrices.
  • Appendix C – Compliance checklist setting out the sections of the Environmental Report that address the requirements of the 2005 Act.
  • Appendix D – Baseline mapping
  • Appendix E – Respondent Information Form



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