Sustainable Procurement Tools

Legal and Policy Context - Climate Change Obligations

The Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019 commits Scotland to achieve a target of net zero emissions by 2045, with interim targets of 75% by 2030 and 90% by 2040.

‘Net Zero’ emissions means any emissions remaining, after all possible efforts to mitigate them have been undertaken, would be balanced by verified schemes to offset an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, such as planting trees or using technology like carbon capture and storage. Only after all possible emissions have been mitigated should offset be considered.

The Public Bodies Climate Change Duties, established by the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 required from 2011 that Public Bodies, as listed in schedule 2 of Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 exercise their functions: 'In a way best calculated to contribute to delivery of the Act’s emissions reduction targets; to deliver any statutory adaptation programme; and in a way that it considers most sustainable.'

In line with the Climate Change (Duties of Public Bodies: Reporting Requirements) (Scotland) Order 2015, those public bodies listed in Schedule 1 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 are required to report annually to Scottish Ministers on how their procurement policies and activities are contributing to compliance with climate change duties.

Climate change mitigation forms part of a public body’s sustainability, carbon reduction strategy, or equivalent and is subject to procurement reporting requirements under revisions to the Climate Change (Reporting on Climate Change Duties) Order 2015 (Part 5).

The Climate Change (Duties of Public Bodies: Reporting Requirements) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2020 strengthens the above requirements by requiring public bodies to report on, where applicable, their target date for achieving zero direct emissions of greenhouse gases or such other targets that demonstrate how the body is contributing to Scotland’s emissions reduction targets, and targets for reducing indirect emissions in their annual ‘climate’ reports. In addition, public bodies are now asked to report on how they align spending plans and use of resources to emissions reduction and relevant targets and how they will publish, or otherwise make available, progress towards achieving its targets; and how they are contributing to Scotland’s Climate Change Adaptation Programme.

Sustainable Procurement Duty

The Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 places a duty on a contracting authority before they buy anything, to consider how they can, though their procurements, improve social, environmental and economic wellbeing in Scotland, with a particular focus on reducing inequality e.g. through appropriate use of sustainable procurement tools and relevant and proportionate contract requirements.

The Act also requires obligated organisations to develop a Corporate Procurement Strategy and report against its delivery at the end of each year, emphasising the importance of monitoring and reporting delivery of intended sustainable outcomes, such as climate change.

SPPN 1/2021 ‘Taking account of climate and circular economy considerations in public procurement’ clarifies expectations with respect to climate and circular economy considerations, aligning the strengthened climate change reporting duties, current procurement policy and legislation which requires public bodies to consider and act on opportunities to improve environmental wellbeing. It highlights that public bodies should use their public procurement spend to support climate and circular economy ambitions.

The key role that leaders of Scotland’s public bodies have in the crucial period to 2030 in the shared national endeavour to tackle the global crises of health, climate emergency and biodiversity loss and the role of carbon in future procurement activities of all public bodies to help achieve carbon reduction targets and adapt to known or anticipated climate change is reinforced in ‘Public Sector Leadership on the Global Climate Emergency Guidance’.

Buyers should also consider building standards which may include or be subject to review and update including planning for known or anticipated changes in climate. For example BREEAM.

Adaptation Scotland provides support to enable compliance with the adaptation requirements of the duties, including the Adaptation Capability Framework. Public sector bodies approach to adaptation should always reflect an understanding of sound science that underpins the known and expected impacts from a changing climate, such as that supporting Adaptation Scotland and UKCIP.

Ready Scotland, in Resilient Essential Services Scottish Government’s Strategic Framework 2020-2023, Guide 6: Building Resilience to a Changing Climate (Adaptation), provides relevant information to those responsible for critical infrastructure in Scotland to help build resilience to the impacts of the changing climate. Regional initiatives in Scotland include Climate Ready Clyde which has developed Glasgow City Region’s first Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan, launched in June 2021.

National Performance Framework

The National Outcomes and Indicators encourages us ‘to focus on creating a more successful country with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish through increased wellbeing, and sustainable and inclusive economic growth’.

The National Outcomes and Indicators relevant for this guidance are:

Environment: We value, enjoy, protect and enhance our environment (Energy from renewable sources, Waste generated).

Economy: We have a globally competitive, entrepreneurial, inclusive and sustainable economy (Carbon footprint, Greenhouse gas emissions).

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