Report: Scotland Could Reach 'Net Zero' Emissions by 2045

CC BY-ND 2.0. StartAgain

The goal could be reached even earlier, if Scots changed what they eat.

From pioneering floating wind farms to ambitious clean energy targets, Scotland was quick to catch on to the environmental and economic benefits of the low carbon revolution when it comes to energy. So much so, in fact, that it has already halved its power sector emissions compared to a 1990 baseline.

That's only the beginning, however. A new report from WWF and Vivid Economics—published as Scottish Parliament is debating raising its emissions targets to a 90% reduction by 2050—suggests that Scotland actually has multiple feasible pathways for achieving and even exceeding a goal of 'net zero' emissions by 2045, with some scenarios suggesting an even rosier picture of a 120% reduction in emissions by 2050. In fact, if options like dietary change (swapping 50% of meat consumption for plant-based alternatives) or investing in direct air capture and storage, Scotland could actually reach net zero as early as 2040.

Key to such ambition is the fact that the country has already slashed power sector emissions, and therefore now stands to benefit as transportation and other sectors electrify also. Equally important, of course, is the fact that Scotland has a relatively low population density and vast swaths of agricultural land, making it a prime candidate for greenhouse gas capture strategies like afforestation, peatland restoration, regenerative agriculture, and (to a lesser degree) unproven technologies like enhanced weathering of carbon sequestering rocks.

The report's authors claim that such a mixed approach could allow Scotland to contribute disproportionately to the UK's overall emissions reduction strategies—creating a signifiant 17 MtCO2 of net negative emissions which would help the whole country achieve net zero by 2050. This unrepentant Remainer can't help but point out that the UK had best hope that Brexit doesn't derail the union by then...