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Scotland's Taking Action

Scotland is living in a global climate emergency. As we start to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic we have the chance to make positive changes to help tackle climate change and reach net zero emissions in a way that is just and fair. But we need everyone to take action and play their part. It’s time for change. With the wellbeing and safety of the world’s population at stake, we need to succeed. And together we can. Let’s do net zero.

Central to Scotland’s green recovery from COVID-19 is tackling the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. Our goal, as we move away from carbon intensive industries, is to make the economy work for everyone so no one is left behind, whilst protecting our planet. The journey to create a better future for everyone - regardless of where they live, what they do and who they are – is known as a ‘Just Transition’. Our green recovery will help build infrastructure for things like electric vehicles, heating, aviation, marine and renewables. And we’re already building resilience to the impacts of climate change by investing in flood risk management to protect our iconic coastlines. The opportunities for innovative net zero solutions, products and services is enormous and growing – Scotland can harness these to help grow our economy.

How we’re taking action

Scotland is taking great strides to tackle climate change and reach net zero. Our energy sector is 83% carbon neutral. In the last two years we’ve planted over 44 million trees, an area four times the size of Loch Lomond! Our 2018 greenhouse gas emissions were half of their 1990 levels - so we’re halfway to net zero already. This is incredible progress, but we must do more. While some of our actions, such as recycling, reducing food waste and energy use, have become mainstream, we now have to take on tougher challenges like transport, heating systems, how we use land and waste reduction.


The amount of trees that have been planted in the last two years

These changes will help transform Scotland for the better in our ambition to reach net zero emissions. Our energy sources will be sustainable, our buildings more energy efficient, the way we travel will be cleaner and our communities better connected. We’ll eat healthier diets, nature will be better protected and start to recover, technological innovation will help grow our economy and we’ll live in a fairer society. This is what Scotland will be as a net zero nation. 

Let’s Do Net Zero


Greenhouse gas emissions come from the energy and resources required to produce, process, package, transport and cook food. But there are lots of things we can do to limit the climate impact of food, such as buying locally, choosing food that’s in season, using meal planning to avoid any wastage, recycling food waste or using it as compost. 

Almost two thirds of the food waste in Scotland comes directly from households. That’s why the Scottish Government has developed a Food Waste Reduction Action Plan to reduce food waste by 33% by 2025. As well as reducing food waste, we must also recycle it. If food waste is thrown in landfill instead of being properly recycled it rots, creating the greenhouse gas methane which is even more harmful to the planet than carbon dioxide. By reducing and recycling food waste we can significantly reduce emissions and reach net zero.

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In 2019 the equivalent of nearly 90% of the electricity we used came from renewables and provisional data indicates that this rose to over 95% in 2020. We’re home to the world’s first floating offshore wind farm, located just off Peterhead. And in 2020 we made up almost a quarter of the UK’s renewable electricity generation, with most of this coming from wind. 

How we heat our homes contributes significantly to climate change - around 23% of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions comes from heating our homes and workplaces. To meet our net zero targets we need to reduce and ultimately remove emissions from heating our homes by switching to zero emissions heating and upgrading them so they’re more energy efficient, comfortable and cheaper to heat. We’ve already made good progress on energy efficiency, with 45% of homes now achieving EPC C or better, but we all need to make more energy efficient choices like installing zero emissions heating systems such as heat pumps and heat networks. Our aim is that by 2030 over 1 million homes and around 50,000 buildings are converted to use these systems. That’s why we’re stepping up our investment over the next five years with almost £1.6 billion allocated for heat and energy efficiency measures in homes and buildings across Scotland. 

Upgrading to a zero emissions heating system and insulating your home can dramatically help improve the efficiency of your heating. A home that isn’t well insulated can lose more than 50% of its heat through its roof and walls so making improvements can help your finances as well as lower emissions. Home Energy Scotland, from the Scottish Government, provide clear, free and impartial advice on how you can make your home more energy efficient. There are a range of grants and support available to make homes warmer and cheaper to heat, including renewable and low carbon measures. You could get funding to help with the cost of installing energy efficiency measures – Home Energy Scotland will check what you’re eligible for. Contact Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282 to find out what support is available or visit www.homeenergyscotland.org.

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Reduce and Reuse

Over the past 20 years, Scotland’s progress in reducing waste emissions has been striking – the amount of waste going to landfill is at its lowest since records began. But there’s still a lot of work to do to reduce waste further and meet our net zero emissions target.

Around three-quarters of Scotland’s carbon footprint comes from the goods, materials and services we produce and use. We need to think about the things we buy and choose more sustainable options. As shops open up again, it’s important to consider our buying habits and how essential it is to make new purchases. Reducing, reusing, repairing and recycling clothing, furniture and electrical items, will lower the carbon emissions and resources used that come from purchasing everything new all of the time. Consider whether that item is necessary to purchase or decide if it can be borrowed from family or friends, rented or, if not, whether a second hand purchase can be made. Look out for the Revolve quality standard for second hand stores so that you can buy second hand with confidence. By moving to a circular economy where goods and materials are kept in circulation for as long as possible, we can help Scotland reach net zero emissions.

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Transport is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland, accounting for nearly 36%. Choosing to travel shorter everyday journeys by walking, wheeling or cycling helps reduce emissions, whilst keeping us healthier and happier. We’re supporting people to choose greener travel options by creating clean, safe spaces where we can all choose more active ways to get around. Over the next five years we're investing over £500 million to deliver active travel infrastructure and programmes that encourage people to make the switch to sustainable travel. Interest free loans are also available to help with the cost of purchasing an e-bike or e-cargo bike.

We’re investing over half a billion pounds in infrastructure for buses to reduce the impact of congestion and help increase the number of people who use the bus to travel. One double decker bus is the equivalent of removing 75 single occupancy cars from Scotland’s roads. We recently invested over £40 million in zero emission buses, many of these built in Falkirk, supporting skilled, green manufacturing jobs as well as reducing transport emissions. In addition to the work underway to transform bus travel, we plan to decarbonise rail travel and create the first zero emissions aviation region in the Highlands and Islands. 

We’re also phasing out the need for new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 to help reach our net zero emissions target - electric vehicles don’t produce any tailpipe CO2 emissions and have a much lower carbon impact overall. To support the move to electric vehicles, we’ve invested over £40 million to establish one of the largest electric vehicle charging networks in the UK – ChargePlace Scotland. Financial support is also available to support the switch to electric vehicles including a grant to have a charge point installed at home. So far, we’ve provided over £80 million of funding to help people make the switch to low carbon vehicles. To apply for an electric vehicle loan, contact Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282 or visit www.homeenergyscotland.org.

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For our partners

Use our campaign toolkit to show Scotland's solidarity and participation in responding to the global climate emergency.