NICOLA Sturgeon has been accused of climate change gimmickry after her ministers took dozens of car trips on the short route between Government headquarters and Holyrood.

Ministers used their chauffeur-driven vehicles for a journey that takes less than 15 minutes by foot a week ahead of Sturgeon declaring that an over-heating planet is an “emergency”. Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham was one of the Cabinet heavyweights to have been ferried about.

Scottish Tory shadow environment secretary Maurice Golden said:

“This proves that Nicola Sturgeon’s climate emergency was a gimmick above all else. When push comes to shove, her own ministers clearly have no intention of signing up to it. The voters can see right through this nationalist con.”

Sturgeon responded to weeks of strikes by school pupils and protests by the Extinction Rebellion group by placing climate change at the top of her political agenda.

During her speech to the SNP conference in April, she pledged that Scotland would continue to "lead by example" as the obligations to the next generation are "the most important we carry".

She said: "A few weeks ago, I met some of the young climate change campaigners who've gone on strike from school to raise awareness of their cause.

"They want governments around the world to declare a climate emergency. They say that's what the science tells us. And they are right.

"So today, as First Minister of Scotland, I am declaring that there is a climate emergency. And Scotland will live up to our responsibility to tackle it."

Her call came weeks after SNP MSPs voted against a Holyrood motion tabled by the Greens calling for an emergency to be proclaimed. The initial disagreement centred on the oil and gas industry,

The Government has climate change targets, but some campaigners believe the Nationalist administration is not taking firm enough action, particularly on transport. One of the key challenges is persuading motorists to stop using their cars and instead travel by public transport.

However, official Government records show that Ministers have a distance to travel before their actions match their words.

Scottish Government HQ is based at St Andrew's House in Edinburgh near Calton Hill, less than a mile from the Scottish Parliament.

Holyrood can be reached from the Art Deco masterpiece in not much more than 10 minutes, a journey that is also downhill.

Sturgeon’s ministerial colleagues used their vehicles more than 50 times between November 2018 and January to travel between the two landmarks, knocking a couple of minutes off the journey time.

In January, Education Secretary John Swinney made use of a Government car for this purpose nine times, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman made the journey on eight occasions, Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop and Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing did it four times each, while Cunningham and Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville did it once.

The same records show that Swinney, Hyslop, Cunningham, Brexit Secretary Michael Russell, Freeman, Somerville, and junior ministers Clare Haughey and Christina McKelvie used the chauffeur service for the short trip in December.

In the previous month, Swinney, Cunningham, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay, Freeman, Ewing, Somerville and Public Minister Minister Kate Forbes opted for the back seat rather than a short walk. Sturgeon’s car journeys are not made available online following advice from the police.

NHS guidelines state that 19 to 64-year-olds should undertake at least 150 minutes of “moderate aerobic activity” such as cycling or brisk walking every week. It is understood 52% of the Government car service fleet are hybrid vehicles.

Labour MSP Claudia Beamish said: "Our society needs to change to tackle the climate emergency, and that starts by SNP ministers setting an example to the public. The SNP Government must look at ways to reduce car journeys and to reduce its wider environmental impact."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We continually look for ways to minimise the use of cars for official journeys, for example, by car sharing. Where practical to do so, Ministers also use public transport or walk to their engagements. This is not always practical if it is necessary for them to carry out sensitive government business during their journey.

“The Scottish Government is committed to reducing its carbon emissions and replacing fossil-fuelled vehicles with electric vehicles, where appropriate. In line with our procurement strategy, we regularly evaluate existing technologies to assess their operational suitability for future use within the Government Car Service and wider Scottish Government fleet.”