SCOTLAND’s greenhouse gas emissions are maintaining a downward trajectory with a 5% drop in the space of a year, official figures have shown.

The Scottish Environment and Protection Agency (Sepa) said the latest statistics follow a downward trend in emissions since 2007.

However, they added that there is still a clear impact on Scotland’s industries in 2021 from the Covid-19 pandemic, with the economy not fully recovered.

The environment agency also revealed they are investigating a major accidental release of fluorinate gases by Anglo Beef Processors (ABF), who have a site in Perth, which is said to be the second largest of its kind in the food and drink sector in Europe.

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It comes as Glasgow City, which is historically home to some of Scotland’s most polluted streets due to traffic emissions, reported that their CO2 emissions fell by 13% since 2020 and 50% since 2006.

Meanwhile, SEPA said that around a third of sites which report emissions to the Scottish Pollutant Release Inventory (SPRI) annually noted a significant difference in their 2021 data compared to the previous year.

The agency says this is in line with previous year's reporting but added a caveat that the Covid-19 pandemic is still having an impact on the industries involved.

The Scottish economy contracted by nearly 11% in 2020 when restrictions were in place, and many sectors including construction, manufacturing, and mining and quarrying industries are still recovering from the pause in activity.

And, while a number of sites told Sepa that production had increased during a downturn in 2020, other firms said that production had not returned to pre-pandemic levels in 2021.

Jo Green, acting chief executive of Sepa, said: “Scotland has a clear vision to become a Net Zero society, with ambitious plans for a just transition. The latest data from SEPA continues to see greenhouse gases from Scottish industry continue the long-term downward trend.

"These official statistics chart the progress we’ve made as a nation, but they also reflect the realism of a modern, Western European economy in transition.

“The data that SPRI holds is vital to helping us understand how changes are impacting on our environment both directly and indirectly, ensuring Scotland can identify priority areas to reduce releases and track progress.

“As Scotland’s environmental regulator, Sepa’s firm focus remains on helping Scottish businesses innovate and continue to emerge stronger and more sustainably from the impacts of the pandemic.

"We’ve all got a role to play in tackling climate change and the continued reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from Scottish businesses is vital in helping our country reach net zero.”

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In February 2022, Sepa identified a large accidental release of F-gases, powerful gases which contribute to climate change, from ABF at their site in Ruthvenfield Road, Inveralmond, in Perth.

The accidental release from the meat producer's plant represents 87% of the total emissions of all hydrofluorocarbons (f-gases) from all sectors in Scotland in 2021.

The fault was reportedly due to the site’s refrigeration systems which have now been replaced. Sepa are investigating and are yet to determine if any enforcement action will be put in place.

In Glasgow, figures from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) showed that the city’s CO2 emissions fell by 13% since the previous year, while gas emissions dropped by 6% and electricity emissions fell by 18% when compared to 2019.

The council calculated that without the pandemic impact, CO2 emissions would only have reduced by around 7.6% from 2019 but say that regardless they have met and exceeded their target to reduce carbon emissions by 30% by 2020 from the baseline year (2006).

The National: SNP Glasgow councillor Angus MillarSNP Glasgow councillor Angus Millar

SNP Councillor Angus Millar, the city’s climate convener, said: “While these emissions reductions both citywide and for the council are encouraging there is no room for complacency.

"The climate emergency remains a very real and imminent threat and we, the council and city partners, will have to work harder, and smarter, to continue the downward trajectory and minimise the ‘bounce back’ in carbon emissions following the pandemic.

“We are making progress towards Glasgow’s ambition to be a net zero carbon city by the end of this decade, but we know we need to do more. Our efforts to promote sustainable transport alternatives and increase natural carbon capture via tree planting, for example, will help change how Glasgow looks and feels as we move towards net zero.”