THE SNP has been accused of having “massively let down” rural communities amid a warning climate responsibility “needs to be integrated into every sort of decision” the Government takes.

The Scottish Greens have insisted that Scotland can play a “unique” leadership role in global efforts to avert a climate disaster – but have called on the SNP to “pick a date” for oil and gas extraction to end to kickstart a transformation towards a renewable energy boom in Scotland.

The SNP Government has pledged to turn Scotland into a carbon neutral nation by 2045, five years ahead of the UK Government – while MSPs have pledged that 1990 levels of carbon will be cut by 75% by 2030.

But Greens co-leader, Lorna Slater, an electro-mechanical engineer, has warned that the SNP must take more action to tackle the climate emergency – stressing that “everything we can throw at it has to be done as quickly as we possibly can”.

She said: “One of my great concerns with the way the Scottish Government sets targets is that these targets are so far enough in the distance that it’s kind of stopping them from taking action right now.

“Instead of saying how can we drive down our emissions 10% this year, what practical steps do we need to take, they are continuing to expand roads, they are continuing to talk about cutting the aviation taxes and they’re pushing this into the future in the hope that some sort of carbon capture technology that doesn’t exist yet will save us.

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“It’s irresponsible and there’s no need for it. We have technology that already works – public transportation, insulating homes, massive investment in our renewable energy potential. We can do all of these things – we just need to start right now.”

The Greens are calling on Scots to “vote like their future depends on it” and back them at May’s Holyrood election – making a pitch to the public to send a message ahead of the COP26 conference, being held in Glasgow later this year.

Ms Slater said: “Scotland as a small nation has a unique role to play in the climate crisis and that is a role of leadership.

“A small, nimble country can make decisions and enact policy much more quickly.”

The Greens co-leader pointed to Sweden which completed decarbonising all domestic heating 18 months ago – while Denmark has committed to ending the extraction of oil and gas.

She said: “They have committed to building their economy on more sustainable grounds, on industries they know can last. They are not going to tie themselves to a sunset industry.

“By taking that leadership, they show the rest of us the way. I think Scotland has that role to play.”

“We have such enormous potential to successfully change our economy from being significantly invested in oil and gas”, added Ms Slater.

HeraldScotland: Lorna Slater is calling for more action on the climate emergencyLorna Slater is calling for more action on the climate emergency

“It is only 7% of the economy- people talk about it like it is 50%. To redirect less than 10% of our economy from oil and gas to renewables is something we could do very successfully with the right political will to do so.

“In doing so, we could be a leader to the world and other countries can see it can be done. That is how we change the world.”

Campaigners have criticised the SNP for pressing ahead with road expansion plans amid the global climate crisis – with the ruling party also committing to cut car kilometres by 20% by 2030.

Ms Slater has stressed that every policy scrutinised and approved by MSPs in the next parliament needs to be viewed through a climate lens to ensure it is compatible with environmental targets.

She said: “Even when other political parties talk about climate, they kind of put it in its own box like it’s a separate thing.

“What it really needs is to be integrated in every sort of decision – decisions we make about education, health, transportation – all of those things need to have the climate considered in them.”

Ms Slater added: “People like myself who live in cities, we have inexpensive, very reliable public transportation – whereas people in rural areas have to spend their own money on cars and petrol, MOTs and tax.

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“The Government has shuffled off that responsibility to individuals instead of working together in a more cost-effective way to provide it as a public service. I think that rural Scotland in particular has been massively let down by this.”

Ms Slater has highlighted that “money is not an object” when Governments deal with emergencies, with the UK Government able to borrow billions of pounds to help try and mitigate the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said: “It isn’t a question of a lack of money and every single party has committed to an investment-led recovery.

“The questions we need to be asking is where is that money going to go. For the Scottish Greens, it’s going to go into rail infrastructure, it’s going to go into warm homes, it’s going to go into transitioning oil and gas jobs into long-term sustainable and renewable jobs. That’s where that money's going to go.

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“A go softly see how it goes strategy of delay, hesitation and indecision will kill tens of thousands of people and in fact with the climate, will kill millions.”

Last week Nicola Sturgeon set out the SNP's climate strategy, insisting that if re-elected, the party "will ramp up our efforts to become a net zero nation by 2045", pointing to "significant and wide-ranging investments which will not only reduce our emissions, but will significantly improve our quality of life".

She added: "Scotland can become a world leading centre for the hydrogen economy - decarbonising our energy system and creating thousands of jobs.

“And we’ll build on Scotland’s strong track record of tree planting and peatland restoration, with a £250m investment to support the restoration of 250,000 hectares of Scottish peatland by 2030.”