A bridge and trees nearby the Stirling hills and Wallace monument

About Net Zero

Scotland led the world in becoming one of the first nations to declare a global climate emergency in April 2019. The need to take action to tackle climate change is more urgent than ever. So, as part of the global effort to fight the climate emergency Scotland has set an ambitious target to become 'Net Zero' by 2045, five years ahead of the rest of the UK. 

A group of people watering a plant

What is 'Net Zero?'

'Net Zero' means the amount of greenhouse gas emissions we put into the atmosphere and the amount we’re able to take out will add up to zero. Our first step is to reduce emissions by changing our actions and processes, but not all emissions can be avoided. To get to net zero any emissions we create would be balanced by schemes that offset the same amount of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere, for example by planting trees, restoring peatland or using technology like carbon capture and storage. Reaching net zero is key to tackling the global climate emergency, as well as the changes we need to make now because of the ongoing effects of climate change. 

Being 'Net Zero' will help transform the way we live for the better, making Scotland a healthier, cleaner, safer, fairer place for us and for generations to come. We must all act now to achieve it.
Scotland plans to reach net zero by 2045, with interim targets of 75% by 2030 and 90% by 2040. We’re one of the first countries to set these ambitious targets and have the drive, resources and passion to achieve it. This is our chance to set an example and lead the way in tackling the global climate emergency.  And we'll do this in a way that's fair and inclusive to everyone in society, making sure no one is left behind - this is known as a 'just transition'.
This is our chance to set an example and lead the way in tackling the global climate emergency. Now is the time to step up our fight for the protection of our planet and to create a cleaner, healthier, safer and fairer Scotland for us all and for generations to come. 


interim target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030

What is climate change?

Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing mankind. The issue is referred to as the ‘Global Climate Emergency’ because the rate at which greenhouse gas emissions are happening is unsustainable and the damage could become irreversible if we don’t act immediately. 

If global temperature continue to rise at the same rate as they have been, the increase in heat will drive regional and seasonal temperature extremes, reduce snow cover and sea ice, intensify heavy rainfall, and change or destroy habitat ranges for plants and animals, changing our planet in ways that’ll affect us all significantly. In Scotland, we’re already seeing the impacts. Over the past few years we’ve experienced summer heatwaves, flooding and extremely high winter temperatures. The climate emergency is already on our doorstep.  

Similarly, coronavirus is a global crisis that has transformed many aspects of our lives. But it can also be a historic turning point in tackling the global climate emergency as it’s shown us that it’s possible to make big and immediate changes to the way we live. For some, we’ve changed how we travel and are walking, wheeling and cycling more than ever. For others we’re now working from home instead of the office, no longer needing to commute. We must build on this and learn from the changes we’ve made already as we pull together to save the planet.

As many individuals and organisations respond to the challenges of coronavirus, it gives us the opportunity to rethink our society and economy. We can start to build back a better world, to make this a 'Green Recovery' that creates opportunities and jobs for Scotland's people.

The time to change is now and Scotland is ready not only to act, but to lead the way.

A pair of hands holding a globe

How can we tackle it?

Firstly, we must recognise that climate change is something we need to tackle together – we can all make a difference. 

Together, reaching net zero will be key to tackling the global climate emergency, but we also have to be prepared to make changes now due to the ongoing effects of climate change. In Scotland our climate is already changing - we're seeing more warming, more extreme weather events and rising sea levels.

But we're no stranger to leading the way, pioneering new solutions and taking action. Reaching net zero means we'll have to change the way we live our lives, now and in the future. The scale of change will be unprecedented but by working together, supporting each other and all getting involved - government, organisations and individuals alike - we'll tackle climate change and reach our net zero target together.

Find out more about adapting to climate change.

a row of bicycles

What’s the plan?

To end Scotland’s contribution to climate change, within a generation. It’s an ambitious target, but we’ve already succeeded in halving our greenhouse gas emissions since 1990. We’ve proved we can make a vital impact, but now is the time to maximise our efforts and tackle the climate emergency at full throttle. There is no time to waste.

The Scottish Government has set out short, medium and long term goals and when they are to be achieved by in the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019.  

Here are some of the most recent commitments that the Scottish Government has set out in the Programme for Government to tackle climate change and help Scotland and its people get to net zero:

  • £1.6bn to transform our homes and buildings over the next Parliament. 
  • £100m to a new Green Jobs Fund to support businesses which provide sustainable and/or low carbon products and services to develop, grow and create jobs. 
  • Investment in green jobs and skills as part of the green recovery, including a £60m Youth Guarantee, increased opportunities for ‘green’ apprenticeships across public sector bodies and £25m National Transition Training Fund with a focus on provision of green skills.
  • £60 million to support the industrial manufacturing sector including the £34m Scottish Industrial Energy Transformation Fund and £26m Manufacturing Low Carbon Infrastructure Challenge Fund.

What does net zero look like? 

In 2045, Scotland’s buildings will be warmer and more energy efficient. Heating will be provided from clean, renewable sources. More people will be walking, cycling and using dedicated infrastructure which has been created to make active travel easier for everyone. We'll have a decarbonised public transport system across the rail and bus sectors, and we will only need ultra-low emission vehicles for longer, essential trips. We'll also be eating a healthier diet with more that's been grown locally, supporting our local producers. Our air will be cleaner, nature and our wildlife will flourish and our people will be healthier and happier. We’ll also be better placed and more resilient to deal with the impacts of global climate change that couldn’t be avoided. This is what a Net Zero Nation looks like, and it’s a future worth fighting for.

an image of Scotland