A GREENS MSP has called on her colleagues in government to have a “conversation” with the public about eating less meat and dairy after progress on hitting climate targets stalled.

SNP ministers have been told to target the move by their top climate advisers.

Under the Scottish Government’s vision, the country will legally become net zero by 2050, while 1990 levels of emissions will be cut by 75 per cent by 2030.

However, in a scathing report, the Government’s statutory advisers, the Climate Change Committee, gave a dire assessment of the situation.

Committee chief executive Chris Stark warned the targets risked becoming meaningless if bold words are not backed up with actions.

In its recommendations for the Scottish Government to reach its climate targets, the committee has set out recommendations on meat and dairy consumption. It says the Government should “take low-cost, low-regret actions” and “encourage a 20% shift away from all meat by 2030, rising to 35% by 2050”.

The organisation has also demanded “a 20% shift from dairy products by 2030, demonstrating leadership in the public sector whilst improving health”.

Speaking to The Herald, Mr Stark said: “When it gets into pure change in behaviour, it is politically challenging.

“The thing is, we do not need that much of a behaviour change, but collectively it is important.

“We need to look to the behavioural change stuff in Scotland or we will need a more difficult brand of politics to reach the targets.

“Tougher decisions will be needed elsewhere if we do not.”

The Scottish Greens, who entered into a co-operation agreement with the SNP at Holyrood last year, have called for the Scottish Government to speak to the public about behaviour changes needed for climate targets to be met.

Greens MSP Gillian Mackay told The Herald that a conversation should be had with the public about reducing consumption of meat and dairy. She also pointed to a shift in behaviour needed to move people out of their cars and on to public transport after the Climate Change Committee warned progress in cutting transport emissions has stuttered.

She said: “I think there’s a bit of a balance there to be struck – to encourage people out of their cars into mass public transport is something we need to continue. There very much is a need to incentivise behaviour change.”

Asked specifically about cutting meat and dairy, she said: “I think it’s a discussion we need to have.”

Ms Mackay said: “I think we need to do that sensitively. It’s definitely something we should be having a conversation about.”

Mr Stark has pointed to congestion charging for roads as potential solutions to encourage more people out of their cars.

He said: “Scotland is more dependent on road transport than the rest of the UK, so there is perhaps more of a reluctance to move to electric vehicles.

“Road charging – there really is a need to think in the round on this. It’s a matter for both the UK and Scottish governments but we should be thinking about that now.

“Things such as congestion charging were in the past being talked about, so that is worth being talked about.”

The Scottish Government will publish its updated climate change plan in 2023, which will focus on how ambitions will be delivered.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Climate Change Committee’s advice is a timely reminder of the scale of the challenge faced by government, industry and civil society if we are to reduce Scotland’s emissions and play our role in limiting global warming.

“We will carefully consider their advice and lay our response before parliament as soon as is practicable.

“We are working with Public Health Scotland, Food Standards Scotland and other agencies to evaluate the evidence base surrounding diet, health and climate impacts. That work will inform future policy, including next year’s draft climate change plan.

“Our diet and healthy weight delivery plan aims to improve population diet and halve childhood obesity rates by 2030. It is founded on the Scottish dietary goals, which include targets on red and processed meat, fruit and vegetables, and fibre.”