Lead the way in minimising the carbon emissions caused by necessary travel and transport by investing in the exploration and early adoption of alternative fuel sources across all travel modes.

The Scottish Government aims to reduce emissions from transport in ways that promote sustainable environmental and socio-economic well-being. Whilst a key focus will be on technological advances to green vehicles in Scotland, it is evident that managing transport demand and embedding behaviour change will also be of vital importance. The National Transport Strategy is clear on the need to reduce demand for less sustainable transport modes and that the Sustainable Travel and Investment hierarchies inform our transport investment decisions, promoting walking, wheeling, cycling, public transport and shared transport options in preference to single occupancy private car use. Our world-leading commitment to reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030 is aligned with the National Transport Strategy’s priorities to take climate action and reduce inequality.

By 2032, transport emissions should have reduced by 4.2 MtCO2e or more compared to today and ultimately, by 2045 Scotland will be free from harmful tailpipe emissions from land transport, with other transport modes decarbonising at a slower pace, resulting in a healthier, more active population.

We are revolutionising our transport system, from creating a greener, more affordable and publicly owned railway to reducing car kilometres by 20% and providing free bikes for all children of school age who cannot afford them. We have invested heavily in active travel infrastructure through the creation of “Active Freeways”. To support electric vehicle users, we have invested over £32 million since 2011 in ChargePoint Scotland, which now has over 2,500 publicly available charge points. We also invested £94 million in 2020/21 to infrastructure, place making projects and e-bike grants, with the remaining funding delivering behaviour change and education projects. We are also reducing carbon emissions by investing in electric trains: 75% of existing rail passenger journeys use zero emission, electric trains.

Recommendation 30: Ferry and Vessel Emissions

Improve regulation about emissions from ferries (and other vessels used to transport goods around Scotland) so that high carbon emitting vessels are replaced with low carbon, modern alternatives, and ensure that the Scottish public sector fleet achieves a 50% cut in total carbon emissions by 2030.


Scottish Government Response

The Scottish Government supports this recommendation in part. We are committed to significantly reducing emissions from ferries, but at this time we do not believe that the technology exists that would allow the Scottish Government Ferry fleet to achieve a 50% reduction in fleet emissions by 2030.


Our updated Climate Change Plan includes a commitment to have 30% of the national ferry fleet consisting of low or zero emission vessels by 2032. Reducing emissions is very much a priority when new vessels are being considered. In hull design, energy saving/requirement technologies, as well as operational techniques, are all taken into account during the design process. Consideration is also being given to the possible retrofitting of zero emission propulsion systems once the technology is available, to enable ferries to meet 2045 zero emission target.

Scotland has also led the world with the introduction of three diesel-electric hybrid vehicle-carrying ferries. Furthermore, our Small Vessel Replacement Programme will see smaller “Loch” class vessels that have reached or exceeded their operational life expectancy replaced with electric/diesel hybrid engine vessels. The first phase of this programme will see the replacement of up to seven of the smaller ferries operating as part of the Clyde and Hebrides Ferries Network.

Battery and charging technology has developed very rapidly since the introduction of hybrid vessels to the Scottish Government Ferries fleet. The Scottish Government has taken the opportunity to capitalise upon this now proven technology when our vessel replacement programme has allowed us to.

We are also committed to supporting the decarbonisation of shipping globally. Scotland is one of the few nations which includes international shipping and aviation in our emissions inventory. The updated Climate Change Plan sets out our commitment to work with the UK Government to support proposals at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to significantly lower shipping carbon emissions in the global sector. This includes the option of introducing a global levy on marine fuel to fund research in cleaner technologies and fuels.

Recommendation 31: Invest in Alternative Fuels and Green Incentives

Reduce the number of petrol and diesel vehicles in Scotland by investing in the development of alternative green fuels and increasing awareness of, and the level of, incentives available to support the transition to zero tailpipe emission vehicles.

Children’s Parliament: Ban diesel and petrol cars from being made and sold in Scotland. Instead, we can help make electric cars in Scotland.

Children’s Parliament: Lower price of electric cars and have a renting scheme until people have saved up enough money to buy them.


Scottish Government Response

The Scottish Government supports this recommendation and we have already made significant commitments to remove the need for new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2030.


There are currently a range of incentives available for individual consumers and for businesses, including interest-free loans to support the purchase of new and used electric vehicles, and grants for the installation of charging infrastructure. Since 2011 we have provided over £140 million in loan funding, and have recently expanded our Low Carbon Transport Loan to cover used electric vehicles. In addition, we have provided almost £1 million in funding to registered social landlords and community transport groups for electric vehicle car clubs and electric community transport vehicles, which provide affordable access to zero emission vehicles in a range of communities.

We continue to work with a number of stakeholders to develop resources that promote the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) and the development of the associated infrastructure. This includes the Energy Saving Trust providing support for the public sector and Arnold Clark establishing an EV Innovation Centre.

Transport Scotland has provided over £50 million of funding to support fleet decarbonisation in local authorities since 2014, and in other public bodies since 2019. These programmes support and enable the transition of the Local Authority and Public Body car and van fleets from petrol/diesel to zero emission. This funding has supported zero emission vehicles, charging and refuelling infrastructure and trials of zero emission heavy duty vehicles. We will continue to raise awareness of the incentives available to support the transition to zero tailpipe emission vehicles.

We also recognise that reducing emissions from transport is not just about transitioning to low emission vehicles, but about reducing the number of journeys made by car and encouraging active travel. This is why we have also committed to reducing car kilometres by 20% by 2030, and we intend to publish a route-map setting out how we will achieve this.

In August 2020, we established the Hydrogen Accelerator at St Andrew’s University. This will increase the speed and scale of hydrogen transport deployments in Scotland by providing expert advice on technology assessments, business models and opportunities to connect research with application.

Last year we invested over £50 million, and leveraged in over £70 million from the private sector, in 272 battery-electric buses (of which 207 are being built in Scotland). We are also supporting the hydrogen bus projects in Aberdeen and Dundee, and have committed to a further £120 million for zero emission buses over the coming 5 years. We have also launched the Hydrogen Action Plan setting out how we will reach five gigawatts of installed hydrogen production capacity by 2030 and 25 gigawatts by 2045. The plan includes developing our supply chain, establishing international partnerships, and strengthening innovation, including a £10 million Hydrogen Innovation Fund to accelerate progress and reduce costs.

We continue to work with the Michelin Scotland Innovation Park to establish the site as a leading centre for innovation in sustainable mobility.

We are establishing a Zero Emission Mobility Academic network with the Energy Technology Partnership, so Scottish industry can draw on its world-class pool of academic knowledge and expertise. In doing so, the aim is create an improved environment for co-ordinated research activities, leading to new areas of innovation and opportunities for commercial spill-over.

Through our Bus Decarbonisation Taskforce, Scotland’s energy network distributors and bus operators have collaborated to produce a guide to converting fleet depots to electric charging hubs, which will support all road fleet managers, not just those in the bus sector. We are also working with the haulage sector to co-design a pathway to zero emission heavy goods vehicles (HGVs).

Through work with Scottish Enterprise we are considering the place of low carbon fuels (LCFs), such as biomethane, in our transport policy, including road transport, as well as harder to decarbonise non-road modes of transport. This will support the development of the Scottish Government Bioenergy Update and Energy Strategy Refresh and seeks to:

  • Establish which sub-sectors are likely to require non-electric decarbonisation routes for Scotland to reach overall net zero targets.
  • Establish which fuels are most appropriate for these areas and what forms of support may be required to see their timely adoption.
  • Quantify a range of expected demand for LCFs in order to stimulate investment in the LCF supply chain, and assess the potential for economic benefits for Scotland.

Recommendation 32: Research & Development for Zero Carbon Air Travel

Help Scottish industry to become a leader in sustainable short-distance plane technology by increasing research and development into zero-carbon fuel for air travel.


Scottish Government Response

The Scottish Government supports this recommendation and, in response, we are restating our commitment to support research and development into low emission technologies.


Scotland has included international aviation and emissions in its statutory climate targets, showing global leadership as the first country to do so. We are also aiming to create the world’s first zero emission aviation region, in the Highlands and Islands.

The Scottish Government’s ambition to establish the world's first zero emission aviation region is being pursued in collaboration with Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL), through a new programme of activity to decarbonise airport operations, infrastructure and flights across the Highlands and Islands. As part of this work HIAL, in partnership with a number of other organisations, have created a sustainable aviation test environment at Kirkwall Airport. Ampaire successfully tested their hybrid-electric aircraft there in August, flying between Kirkwall and Wick.

Our ongoing consultation to develop a Scottish Government aviation strategy will consider the further actions needed to accelerate the transition to low and zero emission aviation, including seeking views on how the Scottish Government could help increase the use of sustainable aviation fuels and the potential for the Scottish Government to purchase zero/low emission aircraft for lease back to operators. This is in line with our commitment to work with the aviation sector to help restore the connectivity that is so vital for our economy and society, but in a way that reduces the environmental impacts of aviation, both in the air and on the ground.

The funding and development of the aviation strategy will also be informed by actions in the Scottish Government’s hydrogen action plan – which will involve producing forecasts for hydrogen and electricity demand across all transport modes, including aviation – and commitments arising from our Bioenergy Policy Working Group. This group comprises all relevant policy areas within the Scottish Government, and is guided by an Expert Panel consisting of NGOs and pressure groups as well as sectoral representatives.

Case Study: Hybrid-Electric Aircraft, Kirkwall Airport, Orkney

In August 2021, the UK’s first hybrid-electric test flight took place at the sustainable aviation test environment at Kirkwall Airport. Ampaire’s Electric EEL aircraft successfully made the journey across the Pentland Firth between Kirkwall Airport and Wick John O’Groats, demonstrating the potential for these type of aircraft to be used on intra-Scotland routes.

Upgraded to run on both battery power and a conventional combustion engine, this aircraft has significantly lower emissions than a conventional Cessna 337.

With both inter-islands routes and routes to the mainland, Kirkwall Airport is the perfect testground for trialling innovative approaches to low carbon aircraft. Orkney’s hydrogen and renewables expertise also contributes to the success of the aviation test environment, helping to put Scotland at the forefront of the transition to low carbon aviation.

Recommendation 33: Electric Vehicle Charging

Create convenient electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure by 2025, focussed around community demand and lifestyle, in balance with other needs for use of space.

Children’s Parliament: Make lots of electric car, scooter and bike charging points available for people to use.


Scottish Government Response

The Scottish Government supports this recommendation and is committed to continuing to invest in EV charging infrastructure and growing the existing network.


We have already invested over £50 million since 2011 in ChargePlace Scotland (CPS), Scotland’s public EV charging network, which now has over 2,000 publicly available charge points. Drivers in Scotland benefit from the highest proportion of chargers in the UK outside of London, with 49 public charge points per 100,000 people, and over 12 rapid chargers per 100,000 people, compared to the overall UK figure of just over seven.

We are aware that more charge points are required in order to support the continued uptake of EVs and we remain focussed on accelerating the availability of charging infrastructure in Scotland, building upon investment which has already been made in the CPS network. To enable the extension of the network at scale and at speed, we have been working with Scottish Futures Trust to progress a new programme of work aimed at leveraging commercial investment in public charge point provision and to ensure that none of Scotland’s communities or regions are left behind.

We are currently consulting on our plans to establish requirements for the installation of EV charge points and enabling infrastructure in car parks of larger residential and non-residential buildings.

We are working with the Energy Savings Trust to develop guidance documents that will support future planning of electric vehicle charging infrastructure across Scotland. This will encourage regional approaches and ensure that future development of the public electric vehicle charging network meets the needs of Scotland’s diverse range of organisations and individuals.

In spring next year, we will publish demand forecasts for electricity, by vehicles type, regionally, and until 2045, in order to support investment and planning into charging/refuelling networks across the country. We will publish a framework for enabling and delivering infrastructure to underpin Scotland’s move to a zero emission transport system by 2023.

Recommendation 34: Decarbonise Internal Flights

Commit to working to decarbonise all internal flights within Scotland by 2025.


Scottish Government Response

We support the principle of this commitment to work to decarbonise scheduled passenger flights within Scotland – our target to do this is by 2040, including by supporting the trialling and introduction of low and zero emission aircraft.


The Scottish Government is committed to decarbonising all internal flights in Scotland. This timescale reflects our analysis of what will be required and scale of technological advance required. Our assessment suggests that there is insufficient advancement of the technology at this stage that would allow internal flights within Scotland to be decarbonised by 2025. We will keep this under regular review and would welcome any evidence garnered by the Assembly on this topic.

As highlighted in our response to Recommendation 32, our ambition to establish the world's first zero emission aviation region is being pursued in collaboration with HIAL through a new programme of activity to decarbonise airport operations, infrastructure and flights across the Highlands and Islands.