Agriculture is a large industry in Scotland, representing approximately 19% of the nation’s emissions, according to data from 2020.

The Scottish Government’s Climate Change Plan update requires a 31% reduction in agricultural emissions by 2032, from 2018 levels, a pace nearly four times faster than has been achieved up to now.

Agricultural machinery is estimated to contribute around 5-10% of Scottish agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions and its energy use has increased 14% since 2008. Therefore, decarbonisation of machinery could play a key role in Scotland’s transition to net zero by 2045.

However, there is a lack of reliable information on emissions from mobile agricultural machinery and the options, costs and pathways to decarbonisation. This evidence review aims to address this evidence gap to inform policy development for the fourth Climate Change Plan, due in 2024.

This study has assessed the suitability of biodiesel, biomethane, battery electric vehicles (BEV) and hydrogen to power mobile machinery.

Key findings
  • Biomethane offers the highest short-term emission reduction potential, of 77%. This is due to the availability of this technology and its suitability to current farming practices, offering a like-for-like replacement for current diesel machinery.
  • Battery electric vehicles (BEV) and green hydrogen offer the highest emission reduction potential by 2035 (98.8% and 94.8% reductions, respectively), assuming both technologies will have matured significantly by then.
  • Biomethane and biodiesel may be the favourable alternative fuel option in the short term. In the long term, battery electric and hydrogen will be the preferred technologies as they mature. Emerging technologies need to be evaluated as they proliferate the market to avoid locking in potentially undesirable technologies in the short term.
  • Short-term uptake of biomethane and biodiesel on dairy farms where there is the potential to generate fuel with waste materials could be prioritised. For those farms where generation of biomethane is not feasible or access to a collective source of biomethane is not possible, there could be a long-term focus on preparing infrastructure for battery electric vehicles or hydrogen.
  • It is likely that a mix of alternative fuels will be needed.

For further details on the study and findings, please read the report attached.

This project aims to provide Transport Scotland with a snapshot of employers’ experience of their staff working from home / flexible working, business travel and commuting before the COVID-19 pandemic, during the lockdown in March-June 2020, and in the longer term as we recover from the pandemic. It seeks to develop an understanding of employers’ long-term travel plans and intentions; identify what barriers and enablers currently exist to delivering more home working and sustainable travel; and what measures would support employers in facilitating this shift. 

The research surveyed and interviewed representative Scottish businesses on different aspects of travel behaviour:

  • Workplace / journeys to work
  • Business travel
  • Impacts of home working on business and staff
  • Travel planning
  • Measures to support home working and use of sustainable modes of transport.


  • Before the COVID-19 pandemic, most organisations (63%) had at least three quarters of their staff based fully at their workplace.
  • A significant shift to home working occurred during the first pandemic lockdown period (54% of businesses reported that more than three quarters of staff were working fully at home).
  • The survey confirmed that 71% either already support home working or plan to do so in the future.

Journeys to work

  • Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the most common mode of transport used by employees to travel to work was by private vehicle (three quarters of organisations’ employees) followed by active travel (57%) and public transport (55%).
  • During lockdown, for those employees who continued to travel to work, private vehicles and active travel predominated.
  • Distance was the most frequently cited barrier to the use of more sustainable modes for journeys to work (68%). 

Business travel

  • Before the pandemic, business travel was dominated by use of private vehicles (83%).
  • The lockdown forced a significant shift of activity online, with mixed impacts on business operations. While face-to-face contact is valued by many organisations (90% identified it as a significant barrier to reducing business travel), many suggest that in the future they will attend more meetings and events online than they did before the pandemic (80%).
  • The proportion of future business trips by private car is divided with 22% of businesses more likely to travel by private car, 53% about the same, and 31% less likely.

 Impacts of home working

  • Disadvantages cited include impacts on employees with a range of identifiable characteristics (e.g. people with caring responsibilities / living on their own / with mental health issues) together with issues around home-working conditions (55%), broadband/internet connections (51%), and staff recruitment and training (45%).
  • Mixed or negative impacts on health and wellbeing (social isolation/dislocation) were reported by 75% of employers.
  • Positive effects included reductions in organisations’ carbon footprints (89%) and time and financial savings for employees (89%).