Chapter 2.1.1 Scotland’s targets

Introduce consumption emissions targets

The Scottish Government should introduce statutory, science-based annual targets to significantly reduce Scotland’s consumption-based emissions, and use the Circular Economy Bill and future Climate Change Plans to detail the measures it will take to achieve them.

UK Govt
Scottish Govt
Local Authorities
Emissions reduction
Behaviour change

While Scottish Ministers are required to report on emissions attributable to Scottish consumption of goods and services, no targets to reduce these emissions currently exist.

Yet emissions from imported products and services make up a substantial share of Scotland’s carbon footprint, and this share is likely to grow as Scotland’s domestic emissions fall.  Including our demand for goods from overseas, our total climate footprint, or consumption emissions, only reduced by about 24% between 1998 and 2019, and our total carbon footprint is about 70% larger than our territorial emissions.14

Scotland’s global climate footprint

Where emissions embedded in imports to Scotland came from in 2019 (excluding the 37% which comes from the rest of the UK). 15 

The target setting powers included in the Circular Economy Bill16 currently before the Scottish Parliament should be used to introduce consumption-based targets.  As a minimum, these should align with the domestic emissions targets for 2030, 2040 and 2045.  

Also largely ignored are the impacts of waste exports, including any recycling happening overseas, currently about 17% of all Scottish recyclate.  Waste exports from Scotland increased by 40% between 2012 and 2021. 17

This policy would have co-benefits for nature protection and restoration.

For further information:

See also the related policy ‘Carbon and material consumption reduction targets’ in the Waste and Circular Economy chapter. 

Version 1.0: September 2023

The contents of this document will be updated on a regular basis.