SPRI shows continuing overall decline in greenhouse gases from Scottish industry

  26 October 2017
The closure of Longannet Power Station was the largest contributor to a 29% decrease in Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from Scottish industrial sites in 2016.

Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Scotland reduced from 17 megatonnes (Mt) in 2015 to 12 Mt in 2016, continuing the overall reduction trend that has been seen in Scotland since 2007.

The figures are contained in the annual Scottish Pollutant Release Inventory (SPRI), published online by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). SPRI is an electronic database containing details of all pollutants over the reporting threshold emitted to the environment from sites regulated by SEPA. The tool can be accessed at www.sepa.org.uk/spri

Martin Marsden, SEPA’s Head of Environmental Quality, said:

Scotland’s transition to a low carbon economy is only possible with an ongoing reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The SPRI figures released today show that we are still moving in the right direction.

“SEPA is committed to working with all Scottish businesses to ensure that complying with their environmental responsibilities in the regulations is only the beginning. We will work with them to explore innovative ways they can make further improvements to reduce not only their emissions, but their overall resource consumption, to help Scotland succeed in moving to a point where we use the resources of one planet rather than the equivalent of three we do at present.”

The two largest contributing pollutants in terms of number of sites reporting and emissions are carbon dioxide and methane, the largest one being carbon dioxide, and these drive the overall GHG trend.

Greenhouse gas pollutant

2015 – 2016 change

2007 - 2016 trend

Number of sites reporting



Carbon dioxide (CO2)

29% decrease

54% decrease



Methane (CH4)

7% decrease

50% decrease



Nitrous oxide (N2O)

20% decrease

58% decrease



Sulphur hexafluoride (SH6)

65% increase

78% decrease



Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)

30% decrease

7% increase



Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)

160% increase

38% decrease













The other four GHG pollutants in the table above have far fewer reporting sites, so the annual emissions and overall trend are much more sensitive to changes at individual sites. These can include sites closing or starting, an increase or decrease in production capacity and volumes, operational or monitoring changes, accidental releases, economic factors etc.

The primary objective of SPRI is to make emissions releases and waste transfer information available to the public, while fulfilling European reporting requirements of the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register Regulation. The information is provided by individual operators and SEPA publishes it online to provide policy makers, academics and the public with information on the type and quantity of pollutants released by operators.

SPRI provides a valuable picture of the amount of pollutants released in Scotland, but it is not a league table and does not display the "best" and "worst" performers across the country. 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

The illustrative infographic is available in our media gallery.

More information on SPRI is available on our website

Questions about individual site information should be directed to the site operator.

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.

You can also view the data on Scotland's environment web.