Photo of Glencoe with the sun above the mountains - how is Scotland's carbon footprint changing

How is Scotland’s carbon footprint changing?

10 Sep 21

In Scotland, four-fifths of our carbon footprint is directly related to the amount of “stuff” we produce, consume and throw away, often after just one use.

What is a carbon footprint?

A handy definition from the WWF is that: “Your carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gas released in the production and consumption of all the goods and services you use, wherever in the world they are produced.”

Carbon is a shorthand for all the different greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. There are six main types of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane.

The climate change impact of these gases can be measured together using a unit called carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e). Carbon footprints are measured in these units.

The size of our carbon footprints are impacted by all the decisions we make in our day-to-day lives; from the clothes we wear and the food we eat to the way we travel and even who we choose to bank with.

Carbon footprint is a widely used measure of the amount of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, released into the atmosphere as a direct and indirect result of human activities. #ConsumingResponsibly

Scotland’s carbon footprint

The latest figures available on Scotland’s carbon footprint from 2017 illustrate that just over four-fifths comes from products, resources and waste materials.

Between 1998-2007, Scotland's carbon footprint rose and then has slowly fallen since then from 90 million tonnes of CO2e in 1998 to 71 million tonnes CO2e in 2017.

Scotland has made good progress reducing our carbon footprint to date which is largely due to the decarbonisation of our electricity grid, which means we are using more renewable sources of energy production instead.

Further reductions due to energy are likely to be small. The potential savings from consuming fewer materials are likely to be more than double the savings we’ve made from decarbonising the grid. This is the next challenge.

Infographic showing the percentage sources of Scotland's carbon footprint