LANDLORDS should be forced to create more energy-efficient homes and private land owners made to hand over their land for forestation, according to the Scottish Greens.

In an exclusive interview, Patrick Harvie said that rich land owners who use their properties for driven grouse hunting should be legally required to allow tree-planting on their land to enable Scotland to match European forestation rates.

He also said that private landlords must make upgrades to homes they rent out, to make sure they are more energy efficient and climate friendly.

Speaking to the Herald on Sunday, the co-leader of the Scottish Greens said grouse moors were "unproductive and unprofitable" and added: "It is used as a playground for rich people to come and kill things for fun.

"Reforesting a huge amount of that land would be profitable for the economy. It would be ecologically sensitive and create a space for biodiversity to flourish."

Harvie argues that just 19 per cent of the country is forested at present, causing Scotland to lag far behind the European average of 40 per cent.

He also claims at the current Scottish Government rate of forestation, it would take 150 years to reach this 40 per cent forestation levels seen across the rest of the EU.

When asked whether private landowners would be consulted before their properties were used for forestation, Harvie said: "I don't know, did they ever ask us to if they could have a driven grouse moor? No, their ancestors stole it or had it stolen for them. "The government can regulate that. Taxation is another way. A land value tax that is properly managed would create incentives for the decentralisation of land ownership."

Earlier this week Nicola Sturgeon caused uproar when she said that peat lands were not being intentionally burned in Scotland - a statement disputed by opposition politicians and climate activists who said that land owners do burn their land to keep it barren for hunting animals.

TV presenter Chris Packham said that of all the “calamitous comments” made by leaders in the Channel 4 climate debate, it was Sturgeon’s claim which “made me shout loudest”.

Harvie said that housing improvements should be another focus of government following this year's General Election, and added that private landlords should be made to properly insulate their homes and make them energy efficient.

He explained: "We have a huge number of people living in the private rented sector and landlords don't have to do any sort of energy MOT or bring their properties up to a decent standard.

"If you had the money you could, in theory, speak to your landlord to do the work yourself but why should you pay if bit is to increase the value of the landlord's property?

" Why would the landlord pay if it is not going to benefit them immediately? There's a real legal mismatch there, and I think there needs to be legal duties on landlords to make sure that is done."

The party co-leader said their proposals for a more sustainable Scotland would also include creating housing which had local facilities, accessible without taking long trips into a town centre or out of town shopping mall.

He also believes community energy companies which could power smaller areas are key to saving the environment and tackling the climate emergency.

He explained: "I live in a tenement in Glasgow, there is no easy way to replace a gas boiler with something else but if you look at a whole tenement building, yes you can.If you put a heat pump in the back court, you can have a district heating system which serves all the community affordably, using a small amount of electrical input for a vast output of energy.

"We need collective solutions and government to step in and cut through the fragmentation of factors and landlords.

"There are very few parties offering a different way of thinking about transport, also. We want to reduce demand for transport by building homes which have local services within them, instead of massive housing estates where people are effectively just a dormitory community and have to travel for everything."

When asked which party leader would have the most damaging impact on the country's climate change efforts, he answered without hesitation: "Boris Johnson. Without a shadow of a doubt. Its not just that he doesn't care about this issue, its his politics are fundamentally hostile to social justice and environmental considerations. I have no hesitation in saying that.

"Boris Johnson would have added nothing to the [Channel 4] climate debate. He is someone who said he would lie down in front of the bulldozers to stop the Heathrow expansion. That wouldn't have happened. everyone knows he just says this kind of stuff and doesn't mean any of it. he has a Neoliberal, market-knows-best mentality which has brought us to this crisis

"If [The Conservatives] get a majority, I think they are a genuinely chilling danger to people in the UK, including to the devolution settlement in Scotland. The 'Get Brexit Done' mantra is absurdly simplistic, for what is an incredibly complex change, but its also a desire the Tories have to move the UK away from the EU towards the US."

While Harvie's warnings over a Tory Government and Boris Johnson were clear, he welcomed some of the other parties' suggestions on tackling the climate emergency.

On Labour's suggestions, he said: "I am glad they are once again talking about rebuilding the state and the public sector, these are questions of ownership which were almost unspeakable during New Labour.

"I'm glad that space has opened up and I think the Greens have been part of opening that up. Several of the recent manifestos in the labour party have been peppered with stuff lifted from the immediately previous Greens manifesto.

"I am glad that if one of the effects we are having is shifting things in that direction.

"Labour also have big contradictions though - they just approved the opening of a new coal mine in Cumbria, for example, and they are not following through with ideas about reducing aviation."

Harvie said the SNP have done "okay" with issues such as renewables since being in Government, but added: "They have not joined the dots on things like demand reduction, they could have gone far faster.

"They haven't had a sustainable transport policy, transport emissions are going up and that is much more a result of government policy. we are not seeing a shift away from private car use and towards public transport, walking and cycling.

"It has continued to support aviation expansion, which is much more carbon intensive. All four of those other parties signed up to the Scottish affairs committee at Westminster report calling for maximum oil and gas extraction, not just up to 2050 but beyond.

"That is not compatible with talking about a climate emergency."