CLIMATE experts have warned that “decisive action and clear policies are urgently required” if Scotland is to become the UK’s first net zero economy in the next 25 years.

Ministers have also been told that Scotland is only set to meet its 2020 carbon emissions target due to the lockdown temporarily suppressing fossil fuel use after the 2018 target was missed.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has called on the Scottish Government to develop a UK emissions trading system with other devolved administrations and the Westminster government, draw up a strategy for low-carbon heating of homes and develop a new rural support scheme.

Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 31 per cent in the decade 2008 to 2018, faster than any other nation of the UK and any G20 nation. Scotland’s progress was led by action in the power sector, where Scottish renewable generation has tripled and fossil-fuelled generation has fallen by more than 70 per cent in the last decade.

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But emissions in other sectors has not kept pace over the same period of time – with a drop of just 14 per cent, according to the CCC report.

In its new report, the CCC has also called for action to make it easier be able to work from home in a bid to permanently eliminate unnecessary journeys.

The expert advisory group has also pointed to electric vehicle charging infrastructure being rolled out sufficiently so that the need to buy new petrol and diesel car is eliminated by 2032 at the latest.

The CCC believes that Scotland is well placed to lead the UK into transitioning to a net zero carbon economy. The Scottish Government has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2045, five years ahead of the UK Government.

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Lord Deben, CCC chairman, said: “Scotland can no longer rely on electricity generation to reduce its emissions, so it must begin to make more meaningful progress in the other sectors of the economy.

“To reach net-zero emissions ahead of the rest of the UK and to earn its stripes as an international climate leader when the world looks to Glasgow next year, decisive action and clear policies are urgently required.”

The Scottish Government delayed its publication of its new climate change plan due to the pandemic, but the document will be unveiled by the end of the year.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “We are now in the process of updating our climate change plan, for publication later this year, and I will be considering the recommendations in the Committee’s report very carefully as we finalise this plan in the coming months.

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“However, there can be no doubt Scotland’s climate change targets are immensely challenging. If we are to succeed in ending our contribution to global climate change, it will require action from every area of society and the economy. It must be a shared national endeavour."

She added: “And as the committee’s report makes clear, there must be more action – right now and in the future - from the UK Government in many key areas where policy levers remain reserved.

"I hope the global climate talks at COP26 in Glasgow next year will also provide a platform to spur wider action and set the whole world on a course to net-zero in a way that is both just and fair for all living on this precious planet and for generations to come.”