Scotland's response to climate change

Since the mid-2000s Scotland has been at the forefront of national responses to climate change. We support the leadership being shown by Scotland and support the range of legislation and policies brought forward to address climate change.

Climate Change Act

In 2009 the Scottish Parliament unanimously passed the Climate Change (Scotland) Act. We support the Act and we urge all of Scottish society to work together to achieve the emissions reduction targets established in the Act. 

We also support the Act’s commitment to action on climate change adaptation and sustainability, and we urge all of Scottish society to work together to implement these commitments. 

Climate Change Act (2019)

The Bill for the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act was introduced on 23 May 2018 to the Scottish Parliament and referred to the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee on 29 May 2018. The Bill was passed by the Parliament by 113 votes to 0 on 25 September 2019, and received royal assent on 31 October 2019.

Scotland’s emissions reduction targets are annual targets. When introduced, the Bill committed to an immediate target of 90% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, but following advice to the Scottish Government from the Committee on Climate Change in May 2019, the Act ultimately set a legally binding target for Scotland to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the latest.

In addition to the net-zero target for 2045, the Bill commits Scotland to interim emission reduction targets of 75% by 2030 and 90% by 2040 – the most ambitious statutory targets in the world for these years.

Climate Change Plan

The current Climate Change Plan (2018-2032) sets out ambitions to continue to drive down emissions and outlines the vision for Scotland in 2032, with key goals including:

  • Scotland’s electricity system, already largely decarbonised, will be increasingly important as a power source for heat and transport.
  • Scotland’s buildings will be insulated to an appropriate level, and will increasingly be heated and cooled by low carbon technologies.
  • Scotland will have phased out the need to buy petrol and diesel engine cars and vans, implemented low emission zones in Scotland’s largest cities and made significant progress in reducing emissions from buses, HGVs and ferries.
  • Our industrial sector will be more energy efficient, more productive, and increasingly use more innovative technologies, presenting significant economic and competitive opportunities.
  • Landfilling of biodegradable municipal waste will have ended, we will have reduced food waste, more of Scotland’s waste will be recycled and a more circular economy will present significant economic opportunities.
  • Scotland’s woodland cover will have increased, and more of our peatlands will be restored to good condition, benefiting people, biodiversity and ecosystems.
  • The Scottish agriculture sector will be among the lowest carbon and most efficient food production systems in the world.


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