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Technical Note for Scotland Performs Indicators and Targets - Purpose Target 7

This page relates to the 2007 version of the National Performance Framework. Information about the current version of the NPF is available on the Scotland Performs Home Page.

Scotland Performs Purpose Target 7 - Sustainability

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Sustainability - greenhouse gas emissions. Purpose Target.

Associated Targets

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the period to 2011.

To reduce greenhouse emissions by 80% by 2050.

Brief Description

The global imperative to address climate change demands a focus on harmful emissions. The sustainability indicator on reducing greenhouse gas emissions sets an ambitious numerical target over the long term and provides for the setting of an accompanying short term target. These targets support UK, EU and world action to address the challenge of climate change.

Sustainability is one of Government's desired characteristics of growth, as set out in the Government Economic Strategy. The Sustainability 'golden rule' is to ensure that economic growth is sustainable.

The indicator aims to monitor the contribution that Scotland is making to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

The short term target is a comparative measure of reductions in net greenhouse gas emissions which occur during the term of this Government to 2011.

The long term target is an 80% reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions from a baseline of 1990, mirroring the requirement of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009.

Strategic Objective(s) to Which Indicator Relates

This indicator informs progress in relation to all five strategic objectives:

Wealthier and Fairer;
Safer and Stronger; and

The indicator informs progress towards a Greener Scotland by measuring greenhouse gas emissions. Both the long and short term targets are mandatory, based on the targets established in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009.

The indicator also informs progress towards a wealthier and fairer Scotland since Scottish businesses will benefit by being leaders in the technology to mitigate against climate change. The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 introduces the target framework and new powers which support this indicator.

Global action to stem emissions will also lead to progress towards a healthier, safer and stronger and smarter Scotland.

More Detailed Definitions

Definitions of Keywords

For this target, as for the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, the greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and the F-gases - hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride.

"Emissions" include domestic emissions allocated to Scotland together with emissions allocated to Scotland from international aviation and international shipping as published on the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory website.

Here "net" emissions means those emissions taking into account both carbon sinks and trading in carbon, as detailed in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 and subsequent secondary legislation.

Evidence Source

Both targets will use the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory disaggregated greenhouse gas inventory and estimates of greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation and shipping as the main evidence source.

Information on trading in carbon units under the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) are collected by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Environment Agency (EA).

Baseline and Past Trends

For both targets, a time series, including the most up-to-date data, is available on the Scotland Performs website.

In common with international requirements and the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, for the long term target 1990 will be used as the base year for carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, and 1995 for all other gases.

The short term target is intended to reflect the emission reductions made during the lifetime of this administration. 2006 will be used as the baseline year for the short term target for all gases. Statutory targets have been set in accordance with the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. Those targets are detailed in The Climate Change (Annual Targets) (Scotland) Order 2010.

Methodology for Data Source

The indicator will use the sum of the greenhouse gas emissions assigned to Scotland in the disaggregated greenhouse gas inventory (taking account of any removals such as those resulting from afforestation) and the emissions from international aviation and shipping, expressed as tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. Changes to the estimation methodology may result in changes to the published emission figures for previous years.

This figure will be adjusted to take account of carbon trading by comparing the number of carbon units surrendered with the nominal allocation of units to Scotland. For the period 2005-2007 (Phase I of the EU ETS), in addition to units allocated to individual sites, Scotland will also take responsibility for a share of any UK allocation that is auctioned. The share to be used will equate to: Allocated units to Scottish sites/Allocated units to UK sites. The allocated units to be used will be those allocated for the year in which the auction takes place. For Phase I of the EU ETS, where a small amount of unused units from the New Entry Reserve were auctioned in 2007 (and where DECC have allocated the sales equally over the period 2005-2007), the units to be used will be those allocated for the whole of Phase I.

Nominal Scottish allocations for the period 2008-2020 have been published by the Climate Change Committee in Table 1.4 of the Technical Appendix accompanying their report "Scotland's path to a low-carbon economy" ( The nominal allocations for the period 2010-2012 were published in May 2010 as "specified amounts" in "The Carbon Accounting Scheme (Scotland) Regulations 2010" ( The accounting methodology in these Regulations describes in detail how the emissions are adjusted to take account of carbon trading.

In summary, net greenhouse gas emissions are defined thus:

Net greenhouse gas emissions =

greenhouse gas emissions + units allocated - units surrendered

Data Ownership and Quality Assurance

The inventory data are those currently published by AEA (Environment) under contract to DECC, SG, WAG and DOENI. AEA conduct detailed quality assurance. The disaggregated data are not National Statistics, but the UK data on which the disaggregations are made are National Statistics.

Detailed data on carbon units traded in the EU ETS are collected by the EA.

Publication of Data

Statistics on adjusted emissions will be published in the environment statistics section of the SG website:

The emissions figures are those published in September in "Greenhouse gas inventories for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland" on the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory website.

(The indicator will not be updated to take account of revisions to historic data when emissions and removals from the Land use, Land use change and Forestry sector for the subsequent year's inventory are separately published. The target update will await the completion in September of the full inventory for Scotland.)

Detailed data on individual site allocations and carbon units traded in the EU ETS are published on the UK Emissions Registry operated by the EA and the European Union website. Data on nominal Scottish allocations were published by the Climate Change Committee.

Methodology for Recent Change Arrow on Scotland

This evaluation is based on the % change in the tonnage of emissions. If the change is less than ±1% of the previous years figure, this suggests that the emission levels are more likely to have been maintained, rather than showing change. A decrease in the tonnage of more than 1% suggests that the position is improving; whereas an increase in the tonnage of more than 1% suggests the position is worsening.

The contractors have looked at the issue of providing an uncertainty figure for Scotland for the short term trend but report that "the correlations between activity data and emission factors between adjacent years are not currently well understood, and it has therefore not been possible to produce a meaningful estimate at this time". The contractors have provided an estimate for the uncertainty of the long term trend in greenhouse gas emissions excluding international aviation and shipping and not taking account of trading in the EU ETS. The approximate 95 per cent confidence interval for Scottish GHG emissions, excluding international aviation and shipping, is estimated to be around ±25 per cent of the mean (the estimates for international aviation have low uncertainty, while those for international shipping have high uncertainty). As the Scottish GHG emissions are revised annually the exact confidence interval may alter by 1 or 2 per cent around the figure quoted above. For more information regarding the uncertainties around greenhouse gas emissions see

Future issues or reviews

The methodology used to estimate greenhouse gas emissions is under continuous review and each year any changes introduced are applied to the whole time series. The changes might also include additional routes of emissions that were not previously identified. This means that emissions could appear to increase or decrease when compared with previous year's publications.

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