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Scotland’s path to net-zero

New five-step plan to show the public, private and third sector how to build back better after coronavirus and meet our joint obligations on ending the climate crisis at the same time.

Zero Waste Scotland's report, 'The path to net-zero' demonstrates how the public, private and third sector can rebuild a greener, stronger economy after lockdown to meet our collective obligation to end the climate emergency.

All public bodies nationwide have been tasked by the Scottish Government to develop their own net-zero plans to meet its key pledge to end the nation’s contribution to the climate crisis by 2045.

Many businesses are doing the same to help meet the landmark target, resulting in numerous different plans and approaches as a diverse range of organisations seek to play their part in this vital global effort.

Through our discussions with other expert groups and stakeholders throughout Scotland, it is clear that, while many organisations want to meet their obligations to fight climate change, they are unsure of how best to do that.

Our new net-zero plan, ‘Our path to net-zero’, sets out five key steps which any organisation can follow, from companies to councils and charities, to help them work out the most effective ways for them to reduce their emissions by doing business differently.

Finding out the biggest cause of their carbon footprint is the crucial starting point for every organisation because there is no universal source or solution. Armed with that information, businesses and other bodies can then test, implement and share experiences of targeting their own greatest organisational emissions.

The five principles in our plan to guide organisations to net-zero are:

  • All net-zero strategies must be evidence-led;
  • They must achieve absolute emissions reduction;
  • They must prioritise emissions reductions over offsets;
  • Organisations need to go beyond net-zero to tackle their whole carbon footprint;
  • To accelerate change, we must share our successes and failures.

Download ‘Our path to net-zero’ and ‘On the path to net-zero’, a linked report sharing our own experience so far.

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About the report authors

Michael Lenaghan

Environmental Policy Advisor, Zero Waste Scotland

  • Michael is a leading expert on the circular economy in Scotland;
  • Michael’s work focusses on developing and delivering the new policies and innovation needed to bring about a more sustainable and circular future. Michael is a key contributor to Scotland’s Climate Change Strategy, and has helped to advance understanding and action across a wide range of circular economy policy areas including waste incineration, insect farming, single-use packaging, behavioural change, net zero and carbon offsetting.  Recently, his fieldwork on single-use cup charging and reuse schemes helped underpin the Scottish Government’s decision to implement charges on single-use cups in the forthcoming Circular Economy Bill;
  • Michael is also a lecturer on the circular economy at the University of Edinburgh.

Fraser Millar
Environmental Analyst, Zero Waste Scotland

Fraser is responsible for delivery of the Zero Waste Scotland net-zero carbon plan;
Much of Fraser’s work is centred around assisting organisations in quantifying and reducing their carbon output;
He works in an advisory capacity for a growing list of public and private organisations, and acts as the Zero Waste Scotland liaison to the Sustainable Scotland Network (SSN). He is regularly called upon to deliver webinars on elements of net-zero and on the quantification of corporate emissions; 
Fraser has lectured on net-zero and the circular economy at both Edinburgh University and the University of Stirling.

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