Scotland is at the forefront of the journey to reach net zero emissions and build a climate resilient future.
Reaching net zero means taking on the challenges of decarbonisation. Changing how we travel, how we heat our homes, and the sustainability of our food supplies are all vital. Scotland committed to ambitious targets for Scotland to be net zero by 2045, in recognition of the urgency of the crisis. We knew it would not be easy.
Scotland is working closely with other nations to do all we can. We are accelerating the development of renewable and low carbon energy. Our universities are leading pioneering climate change research and our businesses are training our workforce to thrive in the world’s emerging sustainable industries. Our commitment to equality and social justice means we are working to support countries and communities most affected by climate change through our Climate Justice Fund.
We were proud to welcome world leaders to the UN Climate Summit COP26 in our city of Glasgow in 2021, and in 2022 Scotland played an instrumental role at COP27 in encouraging other countries to join us in the creation of a Loss and Damage fund. The focus is now on action, and Scotland will play its part at COP28.
You can find out more about Scotland’s action on climate change below.
Global Climate Justice
Climate change projects around the world have presented us with unique opportunities to support and collaborate with other countries. Internationally, Scotland has led the way in putting Climate Justice at the heart of our overseas action. Our Climate Justice Fund launched in 2012 with £12m to support some of the world’s most vulnerable people in becoming more resilient to climate change. In 2021, the Fund was tripled, committing £36m to be spent over the following parliamentary term. At COP26 the same year, Scotland pledged £2m of the Fund to address loss and damage as a result of climate change. One year on, at COP27, the First Minister dedicated a further £5m, committed to specifically addressing non-economic and slow-onset loss and damage. With Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda, Bangladesh and fellow island nations in the Pacific, we are funding community resilience and sharing our climate change expertise.
Scotland also helped establish the Wellbeing Economy Governments group, an initiative where countries work together to develop sustainability, prosperity and resilience in their economies. Additionally, Scotland sits as one of five co-chairs of the Under2 Coalition, committed to ambitious climate action to limit global temperature rises.
Participating in global actions has given Scotland the chance to help deliver lasting change but there is more we can do and the journey will require communities the world over to come together to tackle the big challenges and do more.
Scotland is renowned as a renewables pioneer, and has made excellent progress in renewable electricity generation - with the equivalent of over 95% of Scotland's gross electricity consumption generated from renewable sources, and a target for 2030 for the equivalent of 50% of the energy for Scotland's heat, transport and electricity use to come from renewable sources.
Scotland is home to the world’s first floating windfarm, Hywind Scotland, with the world's largest, Kincardine, operating just south of Aberdeen. Combined, both projects generate enough renewable energy to power around 71,000 homes.
As well as a number of world-leading tidal energy project, Scotland is home to the world's first offshore tidal energy array and the world’s most powerful tidal turbine.
Scotland also hosts a number of world-leading hydrogen demonstration projects including: the H100 project in Fife which will deliver the world’s first domestic hydrogen heat network; hydrogen bus fleets; and the world’s first hydrogen production from tidal energy in Orkney.
A just transition is about making sure that, as we reduce our emissions and respond to a changing climate, the journey is fair and creates a better future for everyone – regardless of where they live, what they do, and who they are.
Our National Transition Training Fund is supporting people who are at risk of being left behind in the labour market or whose employment has been impacted by Covid-19 to upskill or retrain. Through academic and business collaborations, we are supporting the Green Investment Portfolio to put Scotland’s investment-ready green projects in the spotlight. And our £62m Energy Transition Fund will help businesses in the oil, gas, and energy sectors adapt to meet the challenge of net-zero.
A crucial part of a just transition is about supporting workers and affected communities as we plan the move away from carbon-intensive industries. Our goal is to make the economy work for everyone so no one is left behind, whilst protecting our planet. This means the creation of good, green jobs to support this change, and everyone playing their part in creating a fairer and more sustainable society for all.
The Power of Nature
With an abundance of striking natural landscapes and habitats that are home to thousands of varieties of flora and fauna, Scotland is uniquely positioned to tackle climate change. As part of our biodiversity commitments we have planted 44 million trees and we are restoring 250,000 hectares of degraded and drained peatland back to functioning ecosystems. This reduces the carbon that peatlands release and will eventually enable them to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. Not only do restored peatlands act as natural carbon capture systems, they also benefit wildlife such as dragonflies and birds and can even improve water quality.
Across the spring and summer of 2020 Scotland led a series of international workshops for subnational governments to develop an international plan to protect and preserve global biodiversity. The resulting Edinburgh Declaration received over 250 signatories and was presented at The Conference of Parties on Biodiversity (COP15) held in December 2022. Scotland has already committed to many of the draft targets and we will be protecting at least 30% of Scotland’s land for nature by 2030.
We also established the Biodiversity Challenge Fund to offer funding for innovative projects that improve biodiversity, and address the impact of climate change, by increasing the resilience of our most at-risk habitats and species and creating large areas of new or restored habitat. Additionally, The Nature Restoration Fund, launched in July 2021, funds projects that restore wildlife and habitats on land and sea and address the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change.