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The Environment of Scotland

The Environment of Scotland


Scotland's natural environment is a unique and precious resource. Its history and geology have shaped the country's landscape, which is home to a vast diversity of wildlife. This has led to an increased awareness of the need to protect Scotland's special places. Today, the Scottish Government has made sustainable development a priority in its policies on climate change, renewable energy, pollution and waste management.

The Environment in Scotland

Scotland is a small country, but it has an important role to play in the global environment. It is home to world-leading researchers and policymakers who develop innovative and sustainable solutions for climate change, clean air and renewable energy.

Scotland has committed to meeting ambitious targets on reducing carbon emissions and ensuring that 100% of its electricity needs are met by renewables by 2020. In December 2015, Scotland became the first nation in Europe with a statutory target for cutting air pollution when it passed a new law requiring councils to include measures in their plans that would help reach national standards within a year.

Scotland was one of only three countries worldwide (along with Sweden and Norway) that met its Kyoto Protocol target on greenhouse gas emissions reduction - an achievement that places Scotland among the most environmentally progressive countries in Europe.

Clean air

Air pollution has a major impact on the environment, health and economy of Scotland.

  • Air pollution is responsible for around 2,000 premature deaths in Scotland every year.

  • In 2016 alone, air pollution cost the UK £20 billion - equivalent to £1,400 per household. This is caused by a combination of health problems from breathing dirty air and lost productivity through early deaths and hospital admissions.

  • The main sources of outdoor smog include road traffic exhaust fumes (especially diesel cars), industrial processes such as cement production which releases toxic gases into the atmosphere, biomass burning such as wood fires or burning waste in an open incinerator - these are all considered to be primary pollutants because they directly enter our atmosphere without being filtered first by any other process before they're released into our air; whereas secondary pollutants such as ground-level ozone are formed when sunlight reacts with nitrogen oxides emitted by vehicles' engines or industrial processes like those mentioned above (elements known collectively as NOx).

Renewable Energy

Scotland has a high percentage of renewable energy. Scotland has more wind power than any other country in the world, and it has also been ranked first in the European Union for several years running. Hydropower is another substantial source of clean energy, with several large-scale projects underway on Scotland’s rivers.

Scotland is also home to some of the most advanced wave power technology in use today, developed by Wavegen and Aquamarine Power (among others). The country’s tidal pools create an ideal environment for harnessing this resource as well—over 15% of Europe's tidal energy potential lies along Scotland's coastlines alone! Geothermal wells have also been drilled into underground reservoirs near Loch Ness throughout history; these could potentially be re-activated today if there were demand from local communities or private companies willing to invest in their development."


Scotland has a low level of pollution, with air quality classed as good. However, this can change depending on local weather conditions. You can find out more about air quality in your area by visiting the UK Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs website or calling 0300 200 8300.

Air pollution is caused by traffic, industry and agriculture. It's a global problem that causes serious health issues and is also a major cause of climate change.

It's important to take steps to avoid air pollution when exercising outdoors - especially during smoggy weather conditions like fog or mist where pollutants are more concentrated on the ground (instead of being dispersed in the atmosphere).

Climate Change

Climate change is a global problem, but Scotland has the power to make a difference.

Scotland is a small country, but it still has the potential to be a leader in the fight against climate change.

Scotland has always been known for its emphasis on environmental awareness and protection; in fact, Scotland was one of the first countries in Europe to introduce legislation protecting wildlife and natural habitats.

Scotland is a leader in environmental policy

You may be aware that Scotland is a world leader in environmental policy. The Scottish government has implemented a number of policies to help the environment, including:

  • A carbon reduction target. This aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050.

  • A Climate Change Act. This was introduced in 2009, and it sets out targets for reducing carbon emissions from 2020 onwards.

  • A Zero Waste Plan for Scotland (2008-2010). This aims to recycle 60% of all waste by 2022, 70% by 2030, and 75 percent by 2042.


Scotland has a long history of protecting its environment, and it shows. The country has some of the cleanest air in Europe, with just one tenth of the emissions of countries like Germany. It also produces more than half of its power from renewable sources such as wind and solar power. This allows Scotland to be one hundred percent carbon neutral by 2050!

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