THERE are significant concerns over a move away from public transport after the coronavirus lockdown is lifted, Scotland's Environment Secretary has said. 

Roseanna Cunningham said there is no doubt global emissions have fallen in recent weeks, while wildlife has moved back into towns and cities.

But she stressed the wider picture is more complicated, and warned of "unintended consequences" for public transport.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson previously said cycling has increased by 35 per cent during the lockdown, while more people are choosing to walk. 

Meanwhile, demand for public transport is 90 to 95% lower than usual. 

He said public transport capacity could be reduced to between 10 and 25% of previous levels after the lockdown ends, due to continued physical distancing. 

Speaking during an online session of Holyrood's Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, Ms Cunningham said: "I would have a significant concern about the impact on public transport as we try to get back to some semblance of normality, and whether or not there is a sense that people won't want to go back into mass situations, mass public transport. 

"We're not quite sure yet how that might look, and that's where the potential for making a difference is a little bit more complicated than simply saying, 'It's great that there aren't cars on the road, look how clear everything is, and it's nice to get all this walking and cycling done.' 

"We need to think about what happens in terms of the role of public transport now, moving forward, because there could be some very unintended consequences as a result."

Ms Cunningham was responding to a question from Scottish Conservative MSP Finlay Carson, who asked whether she believed the Covid-19 shutdown would have a significant impact on the UK or global climate.

Elsewhere, the minister said she had received assurances that the COP26 climate conference will still take place in Glasgow, despite being delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The global summit had been scheduled to take place in November this year, but has now been pushed back to 2021. 

Ms Cunningham said: "There is as yet no indication of when that postponed date would be. 

"But obviously we still have a role in Scotland, across the whole of the country and particularly in Glasgow, to ensure a successful COP26 whenever that may be. 

"There is a bit of a logistics issues I think, in that so many things are now being rolled forward into 2021 – so many big international events – that 2021 looks like it might become quite a crowded calendar, and I expect that's why they've not really been able to settle on a future date."

She also said the Scottish Government will not produce its updated climate change action plan until the end of this year.

Ms Cunningham previously announced the document - which was due to be published tomorrow - would have to be delayed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Climate change legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament last year committed ministers to meeting tougher targets on reducing emissions.

The Climate Change Act set the goal of reducing greenhouse gases by 75% by 2030 and committed Scotland to reaching net-zero emissions by 2045. 

The plan was needed to set out what measures would be needed for Scotland to achieve these goals.

Ms Cunningham said: "I know this is not where any of us expected to be, goodness knows we could hardly have envisaged the scenario we are now having to work in and the speed with which things change, the uncertainty around that. I and the Government remain committed to Scotland's world leading climate change targets."

But she added the deadline for producing the climate change plan update for the end of April, six months after the legislation was passed, is "no longer feasible nor appropriate".

She said there will need to be "a bit of time" to ensure policies and proposals "reflect the new economic and social realities post-pandemic".