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Net Zero Scotland

Get involved in working towards a net zero Scotland. Together we can create a better, more sustainable future.

Working our way towards a low carbon future

Climate change is one of the greatest threats the world's population faces. We need to act now in both our personal and professional lives to ensure we are all working towards global net zero targets. And that means doing things differently.  

Change can be scary – but it doesn’t have to be. COVID-19 has forced all of us to change how we live and operate. And believe it or not, some of that change has been positive, particularly when we think about climate change. Among all of the difficulties we’ve encountered, we’ve also shown how, as a society, we can make big changes in how we live our lives quickly.

UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 - COP26

The eyes of the world will be on Glasgow in November this year as the chosen venue for the United Nation's 26th Climate Change Conference.

The conference aims to unite the world in the fight against climate change. Taking place from 01-12 November 2021, the summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

You can find out more about the conference and the opportunities it brings on the COP26 website and follow #COP26 on social. 

Multi coloured world globe

Getting started

One of the first things you can do is make a commitment to reach net zero. By registering you'll be able to access a wide range of information to help you. See some of the options to pledge your support here:

United Nations Global Compact - Business Ambition for 1.5°C

COP26 - Together for Our Planet

UK - SME Climate Hub 

Plan your Journey

Having made that commitment, you might want to plan how you can begin to reduce your emissions. The Edinburgh Science net zero toolkit is a great place to start.

Net Zero Toolkit

Net Zero Heroes

We’ve all had to learn how to live in a new world recently with the impacts of COVID-19. Businesses and communities across the region have had to learn to adapt to the restrictions imposed and the change in consumer habits as a result.

In terms of climate change, it’s not all been bad, and many are now seeing a positive aspect to the enforced changes by successfully diversifying what they do. Others have been doing things differently for some time and have been actively seeking out more environmentally friendly practices leading to positive sustainability and growth. Have a look at some of our Net Zero Heroes.

Polycrub in Shetland


A lack of quality fruit and vegetables available locally inspired Nortenergy to develop Polycrub. The social enterprise set up by the Northmavine Community Development Company operates in the northernmost peninsula of mainland Shetland. Polycrub enables fruit and vegetables to be grown undercover in extreme climates. Its design includes recycling waste salmon farm piping, which is readily available. The popularity of Polycrub has grown well beyond Shetland, including recent exports to the Falkland Islands. Selling Polycrub kits has become a key trading activity for Nortenergy.

people outside the West Highland Museum, Fort William

Adapting to a virtual museum experience

While COVID-19 may have disrupted the heritage sector in the short-term, organisations such as West Highland Museum have grabbed the opportunity to diversify in the face of adversity. Through XpoNorth Digital, West Highland Museum connected with the University of St Andrews, which has led to some exciting projects on the horizon.

West Highland Museum
Cuantec Chitin And Chitosan (002)

Using food waste to tackle plastic pollution

CuanTec has developed a world-first method for biologically extracting a naturally occurring polymer, chitin, from waste langoustine shells and converting this to the base material for plastic-free food packaging.

Celtic Crustacean Collaboration

Innovative approach to environmental change

Skyeskyns is the only remaining commercial woolskin tannery in Scotland. Based in Waternish on the Isle of Skye. In 2018, the business identified a more environmentally friendly tanning process and turned to HIE's innovation team for help.

Wind Turbine1200 800

Renewable Parts

Renewable Parts is a supplier of new and refurbished turbine parts to the global wind energy sector, employing 8 staff in Lochgilphead in Argyll. They are passionate about the circular economy with a strong vision of how to make the industry greener.

Renewable Parts

Clean Islands

Seven of the region’s islands working together on an international project to lower carbon emissions associated with heat, transport and electricity supplies for residents, have published their transition agenda. The islands of Eigg, Muck, Rum, Canna, Fair Isle, Foula and the peninsula of Knoydart were selected last year as ‘pioneering islands’ in the Clean Energy for EU Islands programme and have now developed decarbonisation pathways.

Clean Islands

Low carbon in the Highlands and Islands

Hear about the challenges and opportunities available in the Highlands and Islands whilst working towards a net zero Scotland by 2045.

We have a proven track record of world firsts in renewable energy and innovation. This provides a solid foundation for the future and the opportunity to create jobs across the region.

GlenWyvis Distillery

GlenWyvis is a community owned distillery on the outskirts of Dingwall in Ross-shire. Setting them apart from other distillers in the region is their commitment to a low carbon footprint and sustainable future.

The distillery is powered by a wind turbine, solar panels and a hydro scheme. Have a look at our short video to find out more.

Developing an advanced tidal turbine

Tidal power uses the movement in our tides and oceans to generate clean, predictable energy.

Nova Innovation, along with partners, have created an advanced tidal turbine that's robust, reliable and cost competitive with fossil fuels. Hear more about the innovation in our short film.

Orbital Marine Power

Orbital Marine Power is an innovative Scottish company with the ambition to help in the fight against climate change by introducing a new form of renewable power to the world.

In 2016 they launched the world’s most powerful tidal turbine at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney. Have a look at this video to hear more about the world firsts delivered by Orbital in Scotland and the exciting news of their latest development.


At the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), near Oban, marine scientists are working on projects to develop our knowledge around cultivating seaweed.

By developing a better understanding of the production cycle the objective is to help create a vibrant industry. But more than that an industry which is actively helping to lower carbon levels and provide alternative food sources for people, animals and plants.

Zoe Laird, HIE's Regional Head of Communities Infrastructure
Net zero is a formidable target for Scotland but achievable. Consequences of not meeting it are severe. Quite simply, we can expect an increase in extreme weather events like flooding & landslides and a change to the climate that may create food shortages
Zoe Laird, Regional Head of Communities Infrastructure , HIE


Low and zero emissions heat in Scotland

Increasing energy efficiency when heating our homes, workplaces and community buildings is an important part of Scotland’s net zero transition. The Scottish Government is looking for feedback from our communities on how we move to greener and efficient technologies, and reduce fuel poverty. Consultations are running for both existing and new build buildings.

Follow the links below to find out more.

Heat in Buildings Strategy Consultation

New build heat standard and workshops

The scale of the low carbon heat opportunity in Scotland is growing rapidly.  Find out what's happening in investment and skills development.

Read more

Orkney is at the forefront of a global green revolution.

Focusing on our region’s strengths

For HIE, it’s important that we find ways to help businesses and communities make the transition in an inclusive, propitiate way. We need to consider, more so now than ever before due to the impacts COVID-19 has had on the economy, how the transition affects and creates jobs for the future. Within our region, we can lead the way to future ways of producing and consuming, helping others adapt their processes, their markets and their plans to reconcile.

Our approach to net zero focuses on the abundant resources across our region. Our natural capital is amongst the most resourceful and plentiful in the world. For example, our marine environment and coastline are extensive offering significant opportunity for energy generation, marine science, marine manufacturing and aquaculture.

It’s also well known that our record in world firsts in renewable energy technology development and deployment provides a solid foundation for deploying low carbon energy systems. We will continue to build on the successes of our world-leading renewable energy sector across the region with offshore wind, energy integration in the North Sea, scope for large scale hydrogen production and commercial scale wave and tidal developments in the longer term, offering business and job opportunities in every part of our region.

Increased offshore wind ambition by 2030 The Scottish Government has set a new ambition to increase offshore wind capacity to 11 gigawatts (GW) of energy installed by 2030 – enough to power more than eight million homes.

The aim of substantially increasing the offshore wind capacity in Scottish waters supports the delivery of Scotland’s 2017 Energy Strategy and the decarbonisation of heat and transport and has been agreed following an extensive consultation with industry, stakeholders, coastal communities and environmental organisations.



Single project support

Maximising our region's competitive advantage

We’re working with partners across multiple sectors looking at where the real potential for change is. Food and drink, tourism, construction, and transports sectors present great opportunities.

Our region’s island geography combined with renewable resources and strong test and demonstration experience, is the perfect combination to support sustainable aviation testing.

The increasing use of green hydrogen offers changes to ferries and trains and heavy goods transport as well. We can relate our need for population regrowth and increased housing availability to moves to strengthening the timber sector and improving its value to the construction industry building on the work of our innovation centres such as the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC).

Beyond those global technologies and their development, there are other sectors in our economy which can find competitive advantage in ‘being green’.

  • Our region has the basis for a globally competitive eco-tourism market; a zero-carbon destination. The competitiveness of this market can be further enhanced by our increasing interest in local food supplies and low food mileage.
  • Innovations in horticulture and new ways of doing business are opening new markets for both businesses and social enterprises.
  • Our cultural offering is unique and being encouraged by Creative Scotland to use its influence to motivate and empower citizens to act differently, in a way which is compatible with net zero.
  • The importance of land management including peatland restoration, afforestation and soil condition are reframing the way communities and businesses extract their value from the land. 

Scotland’s world-leading climate change legislation

Scotland’s world-leading climate change legislation sets a target date for net-zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045. 

The Scottish Government published it's Climate Change Plan update in December 2020 which reflects the increased ambition of the new targets set in the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019.  

HIE and partners are working closely with the Scottish Government to reduce emissions and jointly work towards achieving net zero by 2045. 

The Scottish Government's Climate Change Plan 

Latest News

Latest news around climate change and low carbon


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