Scottish Government’s Update to the Climate Change Plan 2018 – 2032

The Scottish Government has today published Securing a Green Recovery on a Path to Net Zero: The Update to the Climate Change Plan 2018–2032 as an update to Scotland’s 2018-2032 Climate Change Plan. This will take forward actions to develop the role of hydrogen in Scotland’s energy system. The update sets out the Scottish Government’s pathway to deliver new and ambitious targets set by the Climate Change Act 2019, and is a key strategic document for Scotland’s green recovery from COVID-19.

This update to the Climate Plan will build on the outputs of the Hydrogen Assessment project, with the publication of a Hydrogen Policy statement this month, and then a Hydrogen Action Plan in 2021. The potential scale of the economic opportunity for Scotland from the production of hydrogen has been calculated, and gross impacts by 2045 across three scenarios modelled range from 70,000 to over 300,000 jobs protected or created and GVA impacts of between £5 billion and £25 billion.

The Scottish Government’s vision for 2045 is one of a society that prioritises the environment and the wellbeing of its people, reaching net zero in a way that is fair and just to all . Significant technological advancements, building on current pilot projects, such as negative emissions technologies, zero emissions heat and zero emission vehicles will undoubtedly have helped to accelerate our transition to net zero and for Scotland to benefit from the economic opportunities that these developments bring, including jobs and trade.

Scotland will continue to be seen as a world leader in climate change mitigation and low carbon technologies, processes and services have attracted skills and investment from all over the globe, and create new export and trade opportunities. Even when we’ve reached net zero, our part in tackling the climate emergency will by no means be over. We will continue to work with other countries, share our practices and drive emissions reduction at a global scale.

Hydrogen Impact Assessment

The Scottish Government has carried out economic impact analysis as part of the Hydrogen Assessment Project. The potential scale of the economic opportunity from the production of hydrogen has been calculated and the assessment scenarios attribute this in the main to future export demand from the UK and Europe.

The gross impacts by 2045 across three scenarios modelled range from 70,000 to over 300,000 jobs protected or created and GVA impacts of between £5 billion and £25 billion. These figures are based on a range of current views and assumptions and these figures as illustrative, but nonetheless they depict a significant potential economic impact.

The Scottish Government will also take forward actions to develop the role of hydrogen in Scotland’s energy system, building on the outputs of the Hydrogen Assessment project and publish a Hydrogen Policy statement in December 2020, and then a Hydrogen Action Plan in 2021.


The Climate Change Plan update announces further policies to continue the rapid growth in renewable generation over the past twenty years, moving from a low to a zero carbon electricity system, with the potential to also deploy Negative Emission Technologies (NETs). to deliver negative emissions. The Energy Strategy Update, to be published in 2021, will set out in detail the role that electricity generation will have in the wider energy system.

The Scottish Government will deliver the actions from the Offshore Wind Policy Statement published in October 2020 (see SHFCA update on 30 October) which supports the development of between 8 and 11 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030.


The actions in the Climate Plan Update are aligned with the new National Transport Strategy. There is a focus on technological advances, but equally on measures to encourage mode-shift and significant societal changes.

The update commits to reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030, a world-leading aspiration. Scotland will phase out the need for new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030, and work with public bodies to lead the way by phasing out the need for new petrol and diesel light commercial vehicles by 2025.

A Zero Emission Heavy Duty Vehicle programme will be established with Scottish Enterprise to support innovation in the Scottish supply chain for HGVs and we will engage with industry to understand how changing technologies and innovations in logistics can help reduce carbon emissions.

Scheduled flights within Scotland will be decarbonised by 2040, and the Scottish Government will work with the sector to encourage sustainable growth post COVID-19. As announced in the 2020 Programme for Government, Scotland aims to create the world’s first zero emission aviation region in partnership with Highlands and Islands Airports.

Scotland’s rail services will be decarbonised by 2035 and we will work with the newly formed Bus Decarbonisation Taskforce, comprised of leaders from the bus, energy and finance sectors, to ensure that the majority of new buses purchased from 2024 are zero emission (brought forward from 2032).


Industry emissions need to continue to decline significantly whilst ensuring Scottish industry competes on a level playing field and remains globally sustainable. Scottish industry has much to gain from being at the forefront of the transition to net zero.

The Scottish Government will be announcing a new Emerging Energy Technologies Fund of £180 million to support the development of hydrogen and CCS industries, and will work with Scottish agencies to develop a £5 million Carbon Capture and Utilisation Challenge Fund to boost early stage work and technologies in this area.

The recently announced Scottish Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (see SHFCA update 20278) commits £34 million for projects at industrial sites for energy efficiency or deeper decarbonisation and the £26 million Low Carbon Manufacturing Challenge Fund will support innovation in low carbon technology, processes and infrastructure.

The Scottish Government will continue to develop the conditions for private sector investment by supporting innovation throughout the industry sector in the current challenging economic conditions, and is investing £100 million to help businesses create new, green jobs via the Green Jobs Fund.


Around 50% of homes and non-domestic buildings will need to convert to a low or zero carbon heating system by 2030. The Scottish Government will set out a clear, long term vision and policy direction for heat in buildings in the forthcoming Heat in Buildings Strategy. The approach will be framed around 3 key areas: regulatory change, delivering significant investment and supporting supply chain growth.

As announced in the Programme for Government, the Scottish Government will invest £1.6 billion in heat and energy efficiency over the next Parliament, using this to leverage in UK Government and private finance to see, as a minimum, the rate of zero emissions heat installations in new and existing homes and buildings double every year out to 2025.

Throughout all of these transformations, the Scottish Government’s priority will be to ensure that the costs of the transition are distributed fairly and that our economy is benefiting from opportunities for the creation of highly skilled and secure jobs. Our approach will be led by science and the people and places who are already helping us to generate new and innovative ideas.

This place-based and “learning by doing” approach, recommended by the Sustainable Renewal Advisory Group, will ensure that people and communities are involved in the transition and the benefits are shared by all as part of a just transition.

Link to Climate Plan Update: