The Carbon Neutral Island project will support six Scottish islands to become carbon neutral by 2040. It will support islands to run on 100% renewable energy, create circular economies, and explore more sustainable transport options.

This research explores the available data for climate change action on Scottish islands, especially in relation to climate accounting exercises and good practices in dealing with the climate change emergency.

Main findings
  • Currently, there is not a consistent approach across Scottish Islands to GHG accounting, and no complete GHG inventories exist at the individual island level.
  • Most GHG emissions estimates focus on energy (including buildings and transport) and miss out key sectors such as land use, forestry and agriculture.
  • The unique challenges associated with islands, while requiring a tailored mitigation approach, also show their suitability as test beds for the development, trial and deployment of emerging technologies appropriate for decarbonisation strategies.
  • Both in Scotland and across Northern Europe there are significant commonalities between the barriers being addressed and sector priorities in projects delivered. The potential for knowledge sharing and adapting successful projects to local purposes provides a resource with significant potential. However, it must incorporate a place-based approach and be suited to local characteristics.
  • Financial support within the Scottish Island context needs to connect community-level issues in peripheral islands with the planning agendas of local authorities and central government. Scottish islands’ atypical characteristics are often not fully appreciated and considered.
  • It is clear that a one size fits all approach for climate finance is not appropriate in the Scottish Island context due to their unique characteristics such as main emission sources and population size.
  • Small islands can house cohesive communities, which support effective working towards shared climate goals. Thus, community funding can be used as a building block for implementing mitigation measures and increasing community-level adaptive capacity.

A key output of the project was a set of databases, available alongside this report, that capture information on the three topics outlined above. This resource can be used by the Scottish Government in implementing the Carbon Neutral Island project, but also by island local authorities and communities as they chart a course, and take actions towards net zero.