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Environmental Impact

We reduce the local and global environmental impact of our consumption and production

Environmental ImpactWhy is this National Outcome important?

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges to life, all round the world. It threatens human life through its impacts on water level, crops, disease and fresh water supplies. The world has to address this, urgently, and Scotland must be sufficiently enlightened to take a global lead.

We face other increasing environmental pressures, too, such as constantly rising levels of consumption and ever greater competition for natural resources - fossil fuels, air, timber, water and land - all of which are already under pressure. That position cannot continue: as a nation we need to reduce our impact on both a local and global and environmental scale.

Scotland aims to become a leading nation in developing a sustainable way of life, reducing the impact we have on our local and global environment. The choices we make are critical to shaping a modern, successful and sustainable Scotland - and to maintaining a quality of life which retains and attracts talented people and investment. First and foremost, we must play our part in the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions which is why we have committed to reducing Scotland's emissions to 80% of 1990 levels by 2050 - in the shorter term reducing our emissions in line with our long term target, by 2011. We must also make moves towards becoming a 'zero-waste' society.

The drive to reduce the impact of climate change will also have other positive advantages for Scotland. It will create economic opportunities in renewable energies, from world-leading technology export and manufacturing opportunities in marine energy and deep-water offshore wind-power, to rural jobs in the installation and maintenance of renewable heat technologies. Improved efficiency in business using less energy and water, and reducing waste, can reduce costs and promote the competitiveness we need as a nation.

It is important that councils actively encourage the use of renewable energy sources, including heat as part of Scotland's transition to a low carbon economy.

What will influence this National Outcome?

The current impacts and future threats posed by climate change have begun to touch the consciousness of many people round the world. That, in itself, should motivate us to action.

Better public understanding needs to be translated into real changes in everyday actions - by businesses, public sector, voluntary and community groups and individuals. Government, its agencies and non-government partners will need to work together to communicate and achieve progress towards the goals of reduced climate change and more sustainable consumption.

We will need to make much greater use of the nation's substantial renewable energy resources. Alongside that we must act to reduce the emissions from transport, housing, business, land management and other sources. We must improve Scotland's record on waste management and recycling, and that is not a matter for government alone. The whole nation must become better informed consumers. And our schools, colleges and universities must all work alongside the business sector looking to increase public awareness and researching ways of improving our performance, developing new solutions and technologies.

When it comes to procurement, the public sector is a substantial purchaser in its own right. It can help influence markets, encourage the development of greener goods and services and demonstrate its commitment by ensuring that the whole of the public sector in Scotland pays full and appropriate regard to the environmental consequences of the goods and services it buys and provides.

What is the Government's role?

To help tackle climate change and reduce our unsustainable levels of consumption and production, we will:

  • Implement the new Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 which commits to reduce Scotland's emissions levels by 80% by 2050.
  • Ensure that policy options and public spending decisions contribute to reducing emissions and to the action needed to help mitigate climate change.
  • Fund initiatives by farmers and others to reduce climate change emissions from land management practices and to manage our rural environment more effectively.
  • Ensure that 20% of total Scottish energy use is from renewable sources by 2020.
  • Support the delivery of ten megawatts of marine energy from our waters by 2010, helping to make Scotland the world leader in wave and tidal power;
  • Triple the funding for community renewables and microgeneration to reach £13.5 million a year by 2010-11.
  • Ensure the Forestry Commission can invest £15 million a year in new woodlands to help increase forest cover to 25% as rapidly as possible.
  • Vigorously pursue delivery of the zero waste policy, as set out in the national zero waste plan, which was published in June 2010, setting challenging targets for waste prevention, improved recycling and reuse and for reduction in municipal and commercial waste sent to landfill; allocating over £150 million to the Zero Waste Fund for the period 2008-11 and developing a range of policy interventions.
  • Establish a Climate Challenge Fund to inspire community-based action to tackle climate change - £27.4 million over the period 2008-11.
  • Address the challenge of sustainable food in a new National Food Policy.
  • Improve sustainable procurement, for example urging all public bodies in Scotland to specify fresh, locally available, seasonal produce.
  • Invest in public transport; and support local authorities with plans for communities that are less car-dependent and incorporate green space that encourages more walking and cycling.
  • Publish Scotland's Climate Change Adaptation Strategy to ensure an effective response to the unavoidable impacts of climate change in order to safeguard our communities, and protect Scotland's long-term environmental and economic prosperity.
  • Alleviate fuel poverty by supporting delivery of the new Energy Assistance Package with a budget of £60 million in 2009/10 and the Home Insulation Scheme with a further £15 million.

Related Strategic Objectives


Wealthier and Fairer

Safer and Stronger

Environmental Impact