The Scottish Government

Population: 5.4 million (2015)
GDP: £152 billion (2015)

GHG emissions: 46.7 million tons CO2e (2014 - before adjustment for EU ETS)

Scotland cut its emissions by 45.8% between 1990 and 2014, exceeding the level of its statutory 2020 target (a 42% cut) six years early. The Scottish Government has committed to set a new and even more ambitious target for 2020. Scotland also met its target for 500 MW of community and locally owned renewables five years early, with an estimated 508 MW operational by September 2015. By 2014, Scotland had reduced final energy consumption by 15%, having passed its 2020 target of 12% in 2013, seven years early.  Provisionally, 56.7% of Scotland’s equivalent electricity demand is now from renewables.  Scotland’s National Action Plan on Human Rights commits to continued action to champion climate justice and at the COP21 Paris climate conference, Scotland’s First Minister announced a doubling of funding for Scotland’s innovative Climate Justice Fund with £12 million over the next four years.

Scotland, a devolved nation covering about a third of the UK land mass, has a rich history and culture as well as a varied landscape made up of the famous highlands, islands, lochs and firths. Scotland's economy has now shifted from having a focus on shipbuilding and heavy industry to one with financial services, electronics and ICT technologies, engineering, chemicals, energy and tourism industries at its core.

In 1998 a new devolved Scottish Parliament was formed by the UK Government. The Scottish Government has the power to set its own national environmental policy and to allocate funds, and now has some powers over taxation.

The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 sets out greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets of at least 42% by 2020 and at least 80% by 2050 from 1990 levels. The Act also put in place a framework for progress reporting, assigned duties to public bodies, and created provisions for forestry, energy efficiency, waste reduction and adaptation programs. Finally, it outlined the responsibilities for public engagement and carbon assessment.

  • Key Targets / Successes
    • GHG emissions reduction target: at least 42% cut by 2020 and at least 80% by 2050
    • Renewables target: 50% equivalent electricity demand from renewables by 2015 and 100% by 2020
    • Energy productivity target: 12% reduction on total final energy consumption by 2020
  • Current activities

    Flagship initiatives:

    • Statoil’s Hywind Pilot Park proposal for a 30 MW floating wind farm 25-30km off the Scottish coast in waters exceeding 100m in depth.
    • The launch of Atlantis Maygen the world’s first large-scale tidal stream energy project. Once completed, the 269 turbine development could power nearly 175,000 homes. Nova Innovation’s Shetland Tidal Array Phase 1 project has delivered electricity to the local grid.
    • Scotland’s innovative Climate Justice Fund.
    • In 2017 the Scottish Government will publish a new Energy Strategy, fully integrated with a new Climate Change Plan and a new Climate Change Bill. The new Energy Strategy will reaffirm the Government's overarching commitment to reducing energy demand and supplying clean energy, driving a host of economic, social and environmental improvements and promoting sustainable, inclusive growth.

    Renewable energy:

    • Scotland is home to two of Europe’s biggest wind farms - Whitelee and Clyde - both near Glasgow.
    • Scotland is at the forefront of the development of marine energy technologies. There are more new wave and tidal power devices being developed and tested in Scotland than there are in any other country in the world. The European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney is the only centre of its kind to offer grid-connected, accredited, open-sea testing facilities for wave and tidal technologies.
    • Scotland’s largest solar array to date was completed in June 2016 with 55,000 solar panels providing 13 MW.

    Energy efficiency:

    • The Scottish Government will spend more than £500 million pounds on energy efficiency and fuel poverty over the next four years through the new Scotland's Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP) which will commence in 2018 with substantial annual public funding coupled with new powers for the Scottish Parliament over the regulated energy suppliers. SEEP will be a coordinated programme to improve the energy efficiency of homes and buildings in the commercial, public and industrial sectors.
    • Scotch Whisky industry contributes almost £5 billion to the UK economy, 25% of UK food and drink exports, and supports 40,000 jobs. The industry’s ambitious and wide-ranging Environmental Strategy embraces the entire whisky manufacturing sector in Scotland with commitments to reducing emissions, moving away from fossil fuels and cutting waste.
    • Scotland is creating important expertise on the retrofit of energy efficiency to historic buildings which it can share with other countries.

    Clean transport:

    • Aberdeen is home to Europe’s largest fleet of hydrogen fuel cell buses. This pioneering project will also explore the potential for hydrogen to help balance the grid.


    • Scotland’s first statutory Climate Change Adaptation Programme was published in May 2014, addressing the impacts identified for Scotland in the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) published under section 56 of the UK Climate Change Act 2008.

    Climate finance:

    • £6 million from Scotland’s innovative Climate Justice Fund has supported some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people through 11 water adaptation projects in Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania and Rwanda. A further £12 million has been pledged over the next 4 years.
    • Alongside £10 million from the UK Government, the Scottish Government will give £1 million from its Climate Justice Fund to the UNFCCC Capacity-Building Initiative for Transparency delivered by the Global Environment Facility.
    • The Scottish Government’s International Development Fund has given £3.8 million to support off-grid community energy projects in Malawi as part of UN's Sustainable Energy for All initiative.
    • Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group, Glasgow Caledonian University, Keep Scotland Beautiful and SolarAid, supported by £200,000 from the Scottish Government and also DfID’s UK Aid Match, are raising funds from across Scottish society for “Scotland Lights up Malawi”, a project to help eradicate kerosene lamps, batteries and candles in Malawi by 2020.
  • More info

    Devolved powers and competencies relevant to climate and energy:

    Responsibility for tackling climate change is fully devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

    Most important economic sectors:

    Oil and Gas, Food and Drink, Financial and Business Services, Life Sciences, Energy and Low Carbon Economy, Tourism and Creative Industries.

    GHG breakdown by sector

    Scottish Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Gas and by Scottish Government Sector, 2014. 

    2014 Mt CO2e %
    Energy Supply 13.8 30
    Transport 12.9 28
    Agriculture 10.7 23
    Business & Industry 8.7 19
    Residential 5.9 13
    Waste 2.2 5
    Other 2.7 6
    Forestry -10.2 -22


    Current electricity sector mix (% of production in 2014)

    Renewables incl hydro 38
    Nuclear 33
    Coal 20
    Gas 5
    Other incl oil 3

    *Coal includes a small quantity of non-renewable wastes (source)


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