Holyrood committee backs mandatory climate change reporting for public sector


The Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee (RACCE) has voiced its support for mandatory climate emissions reporting for many public sector organisations.

The Committee’s backing comes as the Scottish Government’s consultation on climate change reporting and the public sector draws to a close at the end of this month. But the Committee is pressing the Government to provide clear detail on how the public sector will be supported to meet its goals.

In an eight-page letter to the Minister for Environment, Land Reform and Climate Change, Aileen McLeod MSP the Committee highlights key recommendations, including: 

  • Asking the Scottish Government to clearly lay out what support and training will be made available to public sector bodies, and how it will be coordinated and targeted.  
  • Asking the Scottish Government to provide details of how it intends to support public bodies which are not captured by its proposals to take action and cut their emissions.
  • Where the Government’s proposed standard reporting form is concerned, differences between organisations need to be recognised and a one-size-fits-all approach may not work. Any validation process should not become a cash cow for private, external organisations.
  • Following evidence given by Scottish Enterprise of financial considerations public sector bodies in making carbon reduction decisions, the Committee is encouraging public sector bodies to consider the importance of preventative spending, and achieving an appropriate balance between value for money for the organisation and value for money for the people of Scotland.
  • Stressing that public bodies must make every effort to meet the reporting requirements, whilst acknowledging that applying penalties in the early years to those trying hard, but failing to report as expected, would be counterproductive.

Rob Gibson MSP, Convener of the Committee said: 

“The legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament commits Scotland to reducing emissions by at least 80% by 2050 and is world-leading in terms of ambition.  

“However that ambition has to be translated into action. It is now time to activate real change in approach and behaviour across all underperforming sectors of society, and this includes the public sector.

“The Committee is encouraged to hear many examples of the positive impact voluntary reporting has had on actually reducing emissions, and by the unanimous support for mandatory climate reporting by the public sector bodies who gave evidence.

“We must support those who are not delivering as much as they can to make Scotland a world leader, and encourage them to engage and improve.” 

The Committee also highlighted: 

  • The validation process for reporting climate change needs to be carefully considered and then clearly set out by Scottish Government guidance.
  • The importance of public sector organisations more advanced in climate emissions reporting, such as the Sustainable Scotland Network, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, and some local authorities, being encouraged to share good practice and provide advice and support to those parts of the public sector which are less advanced.
  • While it could be counterproductive to apply penalties to organisations that working hard to meet the requirements but, for whatever reason, failing to do so, especially in the early years, any flexibility in deadlines or penalties afforded by the Scottish Government should not be used as an excuse to avoid reporting responsibilities.


The Committee took written and oral evidence from: the Sustainable Scotland Network; Glasgow City Council; Clackmannanshire Council; the Scottish Environment Protection Agency; the Strathclyde Passenger Authority; Scottish Enterprise; Edinburgh Napier University; the Scottish Ambulance Service; and Police Scotland.  

The Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee (RACCE) scrutinises policy proposals relating to rural affairs, climate change and the environment. It comes to a view after taking comprehensive evidence from, and engaging with, a wide range of stakeholders ‘on the frontline’ and applies authoritive, expert, effective and influential scrutiny to policy. 

Photographs of the Committee and Convener are available free of charge.

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