Scotland's global carbon footprint increasing, latest figures show

Scotland's carbon footprint has got larger, the latest official figures show.

Scottish Government statistics show the country’s share of global greenhouse gas emissions increased by 2.6 per cent in a year, releasing an extra 1.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere.

Total emissions rose from 68.7 in 2017 to 70.4 million tonnes in 2018, the most recent years for which figures are available.

Imported goods and services used by Scots were responsible for the biggest share of the increase, but home-grown emissions also rose.

Scottish Government statistics show that the country’s share of global greenhouse gas emissions increased by 2.6 per cent in a year, releasing an extra 1.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere.

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Over the longer term, Scotland’s carbon footprint has decreased by almost a third – 30.5 per cent – since 1998.

Emissions rose from 2004 onwards to a peak of 107.6 million tonnes in 2007 before falling sharply in the following years – coinciding with the recession – and have generally dropped annually ever since, except in 2012 and 2018.

The overall reduction between the 2007 peak and 2018 is 34.5 per cent.

Scotland’s Carbon Footprint: 1998-2018 provides estimates of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions on a consumption basis. Those estimates are associated with spending by Scottish residents on goods and services, wherever in the world these emissions arise, together with emissions directly generated by Scottish households.

The statistics have been released on the same day as an independent report found Scotland’s efforts to combat climate change are “stalling”.

Opposition politicians have blasted the Government over the figures.

Scottish Labour’s net zero, energy and transport spokesperson Colin Smyth said: “This environmental vandalism from the SNP-Green government must stop.

“We need a real plan to tackle emissions, deliver a jobs-first transition and build a greener future for Scotland.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesperson for the climate emergency Liam McArthur said: “Sadly these figures show that Scotland is only moving forward in fits and starts.”

He added: “It is a black day for our climate efforts. Scotland should be a leader in tackling climate change, but this report shows that the Scottish Government are falling short.”

Environmental campaigners say the general downward trend for emissions shows investment in low-carbon sectors is working, but bigger efforts are needed.

Fabrice Leveque, climate change policy manager at environmental charity WWF Scotland, said: “All countries, including Scotland, need to raise their game if we’re to avoid ever-worsening impacts of climate change.”

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