Scottish Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2011


Scotland’s Chief Statistician today published Scottish Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2011. The publication includes key statistics on greenhouse gas emissions. All figures include emissions from international aviation and shipping except where stated. The publication includes adjusted emissions that take into account trading through the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and shows progress against targets.

The main findings are:

  • In 2011, Scottish emissions of the basket of six greenhouse gases are estimated to be 51.3 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e).  This is 9.9 per cent lower than the 2010 figure of 56.9 MtCO2e, a 5.6 MtCO2e decrease.  Between 1990 and 2011, there was a 29.6 per cent reduction in emissions.
  • When emissions are adjusted to take account of trading in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), emissions fell by 2.9 per cent between 2010 and 2011 (from 55.893 MtCO2e to 54.252 MtCO2e).  Compared with the 1990 base year , emissions in 2011 (after taking account of trading in the EU ETS) were 25.7 per cent lower.
  • The annual target for 2011, as published in the Climate Change (Annual Targets) (Scotland) Order 2010, is 53.404 MtCO2e.  The target is assessed using the adjusted emissions.

Unadjusted emissions:

  • Between 2010 and 2011, there were large decreases in greenhouse gas emissions in the energy supply and residential sectors, of 3.8 and 1.8 MtCO2e respectively (decreases of 18 and 21 per cent).  The energy supply decrease was due to reduced consumption of coal in power stations and the decrease seen in the residential sector was as a result of a large reduction in natural gas consumption. Emissions from the residential sector are affected by changes in weather, with 2011 being on average 1.5°C warmer than 2010 (annual mean temperature in 2011 was 8.06°C compared to 6.54°C in 2010). 
  • There were decreases in emissions of 3 per cent from the agriculture and related land use sector (0.3 MtCO2e) while the transport sector (excluding international aviation and shipping) saw a 2 per cent drop (0.2 MtCO2e). The public sector showed the third largest per cent reduction in emissions at 15 per cent (down 0.1 MtCO2e). Net emissions from waste management decreased by 3 per cent (0.1 MtCO2e). There were increases of 0.1 MtCO2e for international aviation and shipping and the business and industrial process sectors (increases of 4 per cent and 1 per cent respectively). Emissions from the development sector increased by 0.03 MtCO2e, an increase of 2 per cent. Net removals from the forestry sector reduced in size from 9.6 MtCO2e to 9.1 MtCO2e (a 5 per cent reduction and 0.5 MtCO2e decrease) between 2010 and 2011. 
  • Since 1990, emissions from international aviation and shipping have increased by 0.04 MtCO2e (2 per cent). There were decreases in all other categories. The largest absolute reduction was for the energy supply sector at 5.5 MtCO2e, a 24 per cent reduction.  Other sectors with significant reductions are waste management down 4.5 MtCO2e (68 per cent reduction), business and industrial process down 4.3 MtCO2e (32 per cent), agriculture and related land use decreased by 4.2 MtCO2e (29 per cent), residential down 1.6 MtCO2e (19 per cent) and public down 0.5 MtCO2e (39 per cent).  Development emissions decreased by 0.1 MtCO2e (5 per cent), and transport (excluding international aviation and shipping) emissions were 0.03 MtCO2e lower, a decrease of 0.2 per cent.  Net removals from forestry increased by 0.9 MtCO2e; 11 per cent more than removed in 1990.
  • Carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas, accounting for around 77 per cent of Scottish greenhouse gas emissions in 2011 equating to 39.5 MtCO2.  This was 12.3 per cent lower than the 2010 figure of 45.0 MtCO2.  Since 1990, emissions of carbon dioxide have fallen by 27 per cent and emissions of the other greenhouse gases (methane, nitrous oxide and F-gases) have fallen by 38 per cent. 
  • Scottish greenhouse gas emissions are reviewed every year, and the whole historical data series is revised to incorporate methodological improvements and new data.  The 2010 figure has been revised up from 55.7 to 56.9 MtCO2e.  Comparing the 2011 figures with the 2010 figures published a year ago will therefore give a different year-on-year percentage change, but one which is incorrect and should not be used.

Official Statistics are produced to professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs and are produced free from political interference.

The basket of greenhouse gases consists of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and the three F-gases (hydrofluorocarbons- HFCs, perfluorocarbons – PFCs and sulphur hexafluoride- SF6), all of which are weighted by global warming potential (GWP). The GWP for each gas is defined as its warming influence relative to that of carbon dioxide. Greenhouse gas emissions are then presented in carbon dioxide equivalent units.

The forestry sector acts as a net sink removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. If the amount of removals falls then less carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and overall net emissions will be higher.

Scotland has a number of targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 creates a statutory framework for greenhouse gas emissions reductions in Scotland by setting an interim target of at least a 42 per cent reduction for 2020, and at least 80 per cent reduction target for 2050 (also a Sustainability Purpose target). These reductions are based on a 1990 baseline (1995 for the F-Gases). Annual targets from 2010-2027 have also been set.

As required by the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, a Report on Annual Targets will be laid before the Scottish Parliament by 31 October 2013.

In reporting emissions reductions against targets in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 and the Government’s Economic Strategy Sustainability Purpose targets, Scotland is able to take account of emissions trading through the European Union Emissions Trading System.

There are uncertainties associated with all estimates of greenhouse gas emissions. However, although for any given year considerable uncertainties may surround the emissions estimates for a pollutant, it is important to note that trends over time are likely to be much more reliable.

The estimates are consistent with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change reporting guidelines and the 2010 UK Greenhouse Gas Inventory. Emissions from offshore oil and gas exploration and production activities are not allocated to any country, and are reported separately within an “Unallocated” inventory category.

All of the sectoral breakdowns included in this statistical release are based on the source of the emissions, as opposed to where the end-user activity occurred. Emissions related to electricity generation are therefore attributed to power stations, the source of the emissions, rather than to homes and businesses where the electricity is used. Similarly the figures include emissions related to the production of goods subsequently exported to other countries but do not include emissions related to the production of goods imported into Scotland.

Related information

Scottish Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2011

Greenhouse Gas Inventories for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland: 1990-2011.

Further information on Environment statistics within Scotland

More information on the standards of official statistics in Scotland