SCOTLAND’S Rural Economy Secretary has stressed that the Scottish Government will not start a war with the farming community over action needed to tackle the climate emergency.

The Scottish Government has pledged to cut 1990 levels of carbon by 75 per cent by 2030 on the way to becoming a carbon net zero economy by 2045.

Ministers published their updated climate change plan in December – setting out how the Scottish Government will achieve its ambitious targets.

The plans insists that Scotland “must continue to produce high quality food, but also deliver high environmental standards and emissions reductions”.

The blueprint adds that by 2045, “our agriculture industry will have been transformed into a low emissions, holistic and integrated food production system that has a low environmental impact as well as benefitting nature, restoring biodiversity and contributing to our economy.”

The plan predicts that by 2032, agriculture emissions will reduce from 7MtCO2e to 5.3MtCO2e.

But Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, told Holyrood’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee that any actions needed to reduce harmful emissions must be done in agreement with the farming community.

He said: “If we are asking farms and crofters to change what they do, then the fundamental requirement is to take them with us.

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“The worst possible thing would be for us to issue a diktat which is greeted with resentment, disbelief, arguments about practicality of measures.

“The worst possible thing would be that we get into the trenches with the very people whose support we need to deliver climate change.”

Mr Ewing warned MSPs that “a change of this scale can only be effective if you take people with you”, stressing that “partnership is the key to achieving a just transition”.

He added: “There will have to be change. My profound belief is that is we are to achieve that change, as we must, it is essential that we get the support and the buy-in and we persuade those who are working on the land, principally our farmers, crofters, in order to change.

“The best way to do that and arguably the only way to do that is by setting out a series of practical actions which will deliver the goods on climate change so that farmers and crofters can have confidence that it is their peers, the experts and leading exponents of farming in each sector that are driving this change – guided by and with the support of experts...all working as a team.”

But Tory MSP Peter Chapman claimed the agricultural industry has become frustrated at the actions taken by the Scottish Government over climate change.

He said: “We have taken evidence on this issue from various experts and the consensus of opinion is there is a lack of leadership from yourself and the Government and there's a lack of urgently.

“My assessment of where we are is industry is crying out for a plan.”

But Mr Ewing claimed that “leadership is exactly what we’re providing”.

He added: “We have a vison, we have a plan, we have the will, the have the farmers and crofters working with us and we will succeed in delivery of this plan.

“I believe this is the best and arguably only way to deliver this change for Scotland.”

The Cabinet Secretary also warned that “the challenge of tackling climate change is made more acute because of the £170 million reductions by the UK Government” to the Scottish Government’s budget.

He added: “We were advised by the UK Government in late September/early October last year that there would be a reduction of £170 million in the overall funding that would be received for rural economy between now and 2025.

“If we are to do all that we need to do to tackle climate change, we will need that money which was withdrawn unilaterally, without consultation from the Scottish Government and incidentally from the Welsh and Northern Ireland administrations as well.”