This paper addresses the use of impact indicators with respect to climate change in the 2007-2013 Rural Development Programme (RDP) of the European Union, with particular reference to the Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP). It concludes that the policy context has highlighted the need for the rural land use sector to respond to climate change but that the associated Common Monitoring and Evaluation Framework (CMEF) did not develop suitable indicators to assess the impact of SDRP measures on GHG emission mitigation. It suggests improved impact indicators based on the relationship between rural land use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: first, an indicator based on net GHG emissions per holding; and a second based on net GHG emissions per unit volume of output. The paper points out the challenges in measuring land-based emissions accurately. It further proposes screening of RDP measures to ensure that climate change mitigation impacts are properly appraised. It is recognised that climate change policy in relation to rural land use is still at an early stage of development but greater sophistication of policy instrument design and evaluation will be required if the RDP is to contribute significantly to climate change policy objectives. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.