Greenhouse gas emissions from Scottish industry fall for third year in a row

date26 September 2016

The total emissions of six greenhouse gases (GHGs) from SEPA regulated industries fell again between 2014 and 2015, bringing the overall reduction since 2007 to 34%.

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The figures have been released through the Scottish Pollutant Release Inventory (SPRI) which fulfils the European reporting requirements of the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register Regulation.

The GHG reduction between 2014 and 2015 was 10%. Carbon dioxide and methane, which are the two largest contributing GHGs in terms of number of sites reporting and emissions and drive the overall GHG trend, dropped by 10% and 8% between the two years (35% and 44% since 2007).

SEPA’s Chief Executive, Terry A’Hearn, said:

“The continued reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is playing a big part in helping Scotland transition to a low carbon economy. Many of these reductions are due to industries improving their processes and introducing new systems, which shows that businesses are taking their environmental responsibilities seriously. Scottish businesses understand that the ones which will thrive in the 21st century will be those which prosper from being low carbon, low waste and low resource use.”

The table below provides a breakdown of the main GHG constituents and their individual changes and trends. Full access to the SPRI database is available at It can be searched by a number of ways including; map, pollutant and industry sector.

Data is also available on Scotland’s Environment Web at where it can be searched in a variety of ways.

Greenhouse gas pollutant

2014 - 2015

 2007 - 2015

Number of sites reporting



Carbon dioxide (CO2

10% decrease

35% decrease



Methane (CH4)  

8% decrease

44% decrease



Nitrous oxide (N2O)  

14% decrease

46% decrease



Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6

73% decrease

87% decrease



Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)  

35% increase

53% increase



Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)  

77% decrease

76% decrease








Total for GHGs

10% decrease

34% decrease 



While carbon dioxide and methane have high numbers of reporting sites, the other four have far fewer and therefore the annual emissions and overall trend are much more sensitive to changes at individual sites. These changes can include sites closing, new sites starting, increase or decrease in production capacity and volumes, operational or monitoring change, accidental releases and so on.

SPRI is a very useful tool for informing people about the scale of emissions, energy use and climate change from regulated sites. It provides a valuable picture of the amount of pollutants released in Scotland. It is important to understand that it is not a league table and does not display the "best" and "worst" performers across the country. The figures relate to mass emissions and not concentrations, so they cannot be directly linked to health, air or water quality standards. SEPA regulates these releases ensuring they are within health and environmental standards.



Notes to editors

More information on SPRI is available on our website.

Some returns are still being audited by SEPA and will show up in the system as "not yet agreed". The results will be published as soon as the verification process is complete.

The Inventory only provides information on releases from industry and does not include other sources such as transport.

Information on releases to air and water are included, as well as transfers of waste for the calendar year from selected SEPA regulated activities. It is accompanied by supporting information on the chemical substances concerned and contextual pollutant health information.  SPRI is a publicly accessible electronic database available via SEPA's website of releases of pollutants to all environmental media and transfers of waste that will:

  • deliver the system by which Scotland will comply with the requirements of a Community Regulation on the implementation of a European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register;
  • help facilitate discussion and public participation in environmental matters and decision making;
  • aid delivery of data for policy makers, academics and the public;
  • support the prevention and reduction of pollution;
  • allow comparison of releases within industry and with other types of releases in Scotland, the UK and Europe e.g. road traffic and domestic heating, where such data is available;
  • provide generic information on the pollutants.

SPRI is not a regulatory tool but is a reporting requirement and contains information collected by SEPA in accordance with the requirements of a Community Regulation on the implementation of a European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register. The information provided is not used by SEPA either to set conditions of, or to assess operator compliance with, the conditions of their licence or permit.