THE SCOTTISH Government has been accused of failing to set out how it will deliver its climate crisis strategy – and has been criticised for focusing on “get out of jail free card” technologies.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has published the updated climate change plan which has been re-written after MSPs agreed targets to cut 66 per cent of carbon emissions of 1990 levels by 2030 should be beefed up to 75 per cent.

The plan, originally due to be published in April, contains a host of polices including reducing car use, phasing out petrol and diesel cars and vans and an ambition for Scotland to become “the world’s first zero emission aviation region” - with a pledge to decarbonise scheduled flights by 2040.

The document includes a £180 million emerging energy technologies fund which will support the development of Scottish hydrogen and carbon capture and storage industries over the next five years – as well as support development of negative emissions technologies.

But environmental campaigners have raised fears the technologies are being used as a smokescreen for failures to reduce carbon emissions.

READ MORE: Scotland to become 'world’s first zero emission aviation region'

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s climate campaigner, Jess Cowell, said: “While there are welcome policy improvements, unfortunately, there are very real doubts that this plan, as a whole, will actually deliver on these commitments and some sectors have been let off doing their fair share. Delivering on our climate commitments should be an opportunity to deliver huge improvements for people and the planet.

“Towards the end of this decade, the plan relies heavily on illusory promises of carbon capture, hydrogen from gas and hare-brained schemes to burn trees for energy. There is a very real concern that negative emission technologies are being used as a ‘get out of jail free’ card by the Government to make their figures add up rather than doing the hard work of cutting emissions in the here and now.

"Public money would deliver more jobs, faster emissions cuts and bigger boosts to wellbeing if it was invested in a range of renewables and energy efficiency measures instead of being wasted on carbon capture, fossil hydrogen and other industries pushed by the oil and gas industry.

“With the UN climate talks coming to Glasgow next year, and the clock ticking on solving the climate crisis, Scotland needs a bold plan setting out steps to phase out fossil fuel extraction and use, while ensuring a just transition for workers and communities dependent on the industry."

Ms Cowell added: “Bringing the phase out in fossil fuelled vehicles forward to 2030 will deliver real benefits in terms of reducing harmful air pollution on our streets as well as driving down climate emissions.

“The commitment to reduce road kilometres driven is very welcome given transport’s role as our most polluting sector but lacks detail and the specific actions that will add up to this change.”

Concerns have also been issued over the prospect of the strategy providing green jobs and the effect on workers.

READ MORE: Scottish Government's failure to meet carbon emission target blamed on cold weather

Dave Moxham, deputy general secretary of the Scottish Trade Union Congress, said: “We know from past experience that promises of green jobs are easily broken if they are not followed up with policy action. While the plan contains a number of references to green jobs forecasts from industry bodies, there appears to be little new analysis from the Scottish Government on how this plan will impact on workers.

"Although there is reference to environmental conditionality, there does not appear to be specific proposals to ensure that low-carbon and renewable energy companies actually deliver good quality jobs in the Scottish supply chain. Nor are there proposals to ensure that Scotland’s public sector benefits from the green industrial revolution and the profits are not simply captured by multinational companies.”

Fabrice Leveque, head of policy at WWF Scotland, said the plan “falls short of delivering some of the big decisions needed to truly respond to climate change as an emergency”.

READ MORE: UK taxpayers to stop funding overseas oil and gas projects

He added: “It paints a good picture of the changes we need to see implemented this decade- a million homes converted to renewable heating, a reduced reliance on car travel and significant emissions cuts from our agriculture sector. These steps will cut carbon, create jobs and bring other benefits like cleaner air and better health.

“However, opportunities to advance important policies in key emitting sectors have been missed. Detail on the actions required by the farming sector is lacking, and the earlier date of 2035 to bring all homes to a good standard of energy efficiency is still five years later than we need to help that industry grow today. This is not the pace of action required by the climate emergency.

“On the plus side the plan adds to the genuine cross-government approach taken since the First Minister declared a climate emergency in 2019. We’re now about to enter 2021, the year Scotland will host the global climate negotiations, and we’ve still got a mountain to climb here at home if we’re to meet our own climate targets.

“While it is disappointing to see missed opportunities in this plan, the Scottish Parliament will scrutinise it in the new year, and we hope this will be an opportunity to push for further detail on some of these proposals.”