Maintaining Scotland’s global leadership on the environment

In 2009, the Scottish Parliament passed one of the most ambitious climate change laws anywhere in the world. The latest statistics show we remain well on track to achieve a 42 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

We will now seek to continue this progress and maintain Scotland’s reputation as a global leader on tackling climate change. Here’s how.


We are meeting our existing world-leading climate change targets and are now committed to achieving a 100 per cent reduction in emissions as soon as possible.

Scotland well on track to meet existing world-leading climate change targets. We have already reduced emissions by 49 per cent compared to 1990; we have met our annual statutory targets for three years running; and are outperforming all countries in Western Europe except Sweden.

But there’s much more to do. Our new ambitions will ensure that we don’t just meet our international obligations under the Paris Agreement but continue to lead.

Our new Climate Change Bill will set a new goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 66 per cent, compared to 1990 levels, by 2032. We will set a new statutory target for a 90 per cent reduction by 2050 and will move to a net-zero emissions target as soon as possible.

We have already exceeded our target of producing 50 per cent of our electricity needs from renewables by 2015.

We will now go further. By 2030 we will aim for the equivalent of 50 per cent of Scotland’s heat, transport and electricity consumption to be supplied from renewable sources.

And a landmark Scottish Energy Efficiency Programme will begin to be rolled out from 2018, make energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority. By the end of 2021 we will have committed £1 billion to making homes and buildings warmer and cheaper to heat.

We will phase out the need for petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2032.

This will be delivered with a big expansion of the vehicle charging network in urban and rural Scotland; investment in innovative solutions; and leadership on procurement from the public sector.

Neither fracking nor underground coal gasification have a place in Scotland’s energy mix.

The SNP have taken a cautious, evidence based approach to fracking, conducting one of the most far reaching investigations into unconventional oil and gas of any government. A public consultation found that 99 per cent of respondents were opposed to fracking.

Investment in walking and cycling in Scotland has been doubled to £80 million a year.

To ensure the delivery of world-class cycling infrastructure an Active Travel Commissioner will also be appointed.

A publicly-owned, not-for-profit energy company will be established to deliver low-cost renewable energy.

The company will buy energy wholesale or generate it here in Scotland and sell it to customers as close to cost price as possible.

A £60 million Innovation Fund has been set up, to find new ways to deliver low carbon infrastructure such as sustainable heating systems or electric vehicle charging.

We will introduce a deposit return scheme for drinks containers, to increase recycling and reduce littering. 

An expert panel will also be set-up to advice on how we can reduce demand for single-use items, building on the success of the plastic bag charge.

The Scottish Government introduced a charge for single-use carrier bags in October 2014, and in the first year carrier bag use reduced by 80 per cent – the equivalent of 650 million bags.

In 2012 Scotland established the world’s first Climate Justice Fund, seeking to mitigate the damage caused by climate change on the world’s poorest communities.

By 2021, £21 million will have been distributed through the Climate Justice Fund, which is now supporting 11 projects in Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania and Rwanda.

To tackle air pollution, we will create Low Emission Zones (LEZs) in our four biggest cities by 2020.

 LEZs, first introduced in Sweden in 1996, ensure only the least polluting vehicles have access to air pollution hotspots. The first Low Emission Zone will be established in Glasgow this year.

We are ensuring the clean, green status of our valuable food and drink sector is protected by opting out of the cultivation of genetically modified crops.

Scotland is showing international leadership on moving to a more circular economy, where we keep valuable resources in circulation for as long as possible.

The Scottish Government won the Award for Circular Economy Governments, Cities and Regions at the World Economic Forum summit at Davos in 2018.