What is meant by the term 'Net Zero'?: EIR release

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

Information requested

Can you tell me what is meant by the term 'Net Zero'?

What is the definition ? As the information you have requested is 'environmental information' for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.

This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.


Scotland's net-zero emissions target is defined by section A1(1) of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, as amended by the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019, available at the following link: www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2009/12/contents. Under regulation 6(1)(b) of the EIRs, we do not have to give you information which is already publicly available and easily accessible to you in another form or format. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website listed, then please contact me again.

By way of further explanation, the Scottish Government's net-zero target has been set in direct response to the international Paris Agreement which calls for global peaking of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as soon as possible, with rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with best available science "so as to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century" (i.e. net-zero).

The Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019 amended the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, increasing the ambition of Scotland's emissions reduction targets and setting in law a net-zero target date of 2045. Scotland also remains one of very few countries to have set legally binding annual targets to reduce emissions in each and every year from now until net-zero. All of Scotland’s statutory targets are economy-wide; including all territorial greenhouse gas emissions and a fair share of those from international aviation and shipping, as well as territorial removals by carbon sinks. Currently, the main set of carbon sinks in Scotland are associated with the effects of grasslands and forestry to remove carbon from the atmosphere, as well as the carbon stored in wood products. As part of Scotland’s future pathway to net zero, as set out in our updated Climate Change Plan (available at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/securing-green-recovery-path-net-zero-update-climate-changeplan- 20182032/), we also recognise the need to bring forward key new Negative Emissions Technologies to compensate for residual emissions in hard-to-decarbonise sectors such as agriculture and international transport.

The methods used to measure emissions and removals for the purpose of assessing progress to the targets are based on international carbon reporting practice, using an annual Scottish greenhouse gas inventory which is subject to a rigorous quality assurance process and third party scrutiny. The latest Scottish inventory data for 2020 are available at: www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-greenhouse-gasstatistics- 2020/.

The 2019 Act also establishes a clear statutory default position that all Scottish targets are to be met through domestic effort alone (i.e. reducing territorial emission sources and/or increasing territorial carbon sinks), without any reliance on the purchase by Scottish Ministers of international offsetting credits.

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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