The leaders of Scotland’s two biggest cities have insisted their 2030 net zero targets remain on track despite fears that without adequate funding and skills deployed to local authorities, the country will “likely miss” its legal targets.

Council chiefs have demanded a “road map” to keep Scotland’s crunch 2030 climate aims on track.

Legally-binding targets agreed by MSPs commit Scotland to become net zero by 2045, five years ahead of the UK-wide aim.

But MSPs have also pledged to cut 1990 levels of carbon emissions by 75% by 2030. Given Scotland reduced emissions by around 50% as of 2020, the same level of progress achieved in 30 years will be needed in this decade.

Scotland’s two biggest cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh have pledged to become net zero, ending their contribution to the climate crisis, by 2030.

City council leaders have told The Herald on Sunday that the 2030 net zero targets remain their goal, but concerns have been raised that without the Scottish Government properly equipping local authorities, the local and national aims will fall flat.

Read more: One third of Glasgow City Council vehicles don't comply with LEZ rules

Gail Macgregor, environment and economy spokesperson for Cosla, the umbrella group for Scottish councils, told the Herald on Sunday that the net zero ambition is “truly enormous”.

She added: “It is arguably the biggest challenge of our time and our level of success will have consequences for Scotland and the wider world.

“There have been multiple reports by the Climate Change Committee and others which show that, as a country, regrettably we are not delivering fast enough to meet our climate targets. The reasons for this are complex and there are no easy solutions.”

In a recommendation to SNP ministers, and statutory advisers the Climate Change Committee (CCC) said that the Scottish Government should work with Cosla to draw up “a clearer shared understanding of roles and responsibilities” between local and central government.

The Scottish Government’s response, published in June, stresses that its next climate change plan, due to be revealed by November, “will set clear asks for all of the main actors on delivering climate policy”.

It added that ministers are “working closely with Cosla and local authorities on the development of a framework to accelerate and coordinate joint action in support of this agenda”.

Humza Yousaf has moved to reset the frayed relationship between his government and local authorities by signing the Verity House Agreement, which includes investigating a new funding framework and could lead to less funding being ringfenced for central government priorities.

Read more: SNP ministers urged to use congestion charges to fund public transport

Ms Macgregor said: “We agree with both the Climate Change Committee and the Scottish Parliament’s Net Zero Energy and Transport Committee that Scotland needs a roadmap to 2030 and beyond, which ensures that the most critical policies, in high carbon sectors such as heat and transport, are funded and delivered on time.

“The Verity House Agreement presents an opportunity to rethink together how we meet the worsening climate crisis within constrained public resources, and this will be a top priority in our work going forward.”

In an earlier submission to Holyrood’s Net Zero Committee, Cosla insisted that “it is fact that local authorities do not have the resources at disposal” to cut emissions at the rate required.

The organisation added that “urgent and consistent progress” is needed, but has warned that councils are not being “equipped” adequately.

It added: “We now need to look at how local government is equipped in terms of funding, skills and in the legal framework that it operates, or we will likely miss the 2030 target.

“The successful delivery of the targets will be put at risk if local government is not properly resourced.”

Cosla has also thrown cold water over Patrick Harvie’s strategy to decarbonise housing – largely by replacing fossil fuel gas boilers with sustainable heating systems such as heat pumps.

The organisation has wanted that the strategy “is a vast undertaking which needs to be considered a national mission if it is to be achieved”, adding that “as we stand, we do not know how the target will be delivered successfully”.

Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council, told The Herald on Sunday that “net zero was always a big challenge”, but added that “the pandemic only made that a harder road”.

She said: “However, the global response to the pandemic also gives us an example of what can be achieved when society focuses its attention on a big, existential threat.

Read more: SNP threatened with legal action over climate pledges for investments

“Planning for net zero isn’t just about preparing the city for that threat, as critical as that is. It’s about seizing the biggest opportunity we have for economic growth, prosperity and addressing inequalities.

“That requires serious investment and real change to how cities, nations and the entire international community think about the economy.

“Since COP26, I’ve been working with the leaders of other UK cities to build the case for investment that is needed over the next five to ten years.

“That’s been about big capital projects like making sure every single home has the highest insulation standards, that we have sustainable sources of heat and energy, and modern transport systems that can reduce the numbers and impact of millions of cars on the roads.”

In her previous evidence to MSPs, Ms Aitken warned that the funding needed for Glasgow to become net zero by 2030 is “estimated to be between £4bn and £29bn”, some of which will cover regional projects.

She added: “Glasgow has committed to net zero carbon by 2030, meaning these figures must be mobilised at around £3.6bn a year between now and 2030.

“It is clear that current approaches are not delivering this mobilisation at the pace and scale required.”

Amid concerns over Glasgow’s low emission zone and plans to potentially introduce a congestion charge, Ms Aitken has previously warned MSPs that “a broader review of the potential contribution of environmental taxes and revenue streams, and their potential contribution to local authority finance would allow local authorities a ‘menu’ of choices to support, based on local need and citizen preference”.

Ms Aitken added that “it is likely that structural and institutional changes will be needed” for local authorities to meet climate targets.

She added: “This is also true to financing, and there is the potential to look at more structural reforms to accelerate the deployment of climate finance and climate action.

“For example, the Scottish Government could make the local government block grant conditional on the transition to net zero and climate resilience.”

Leader of Edinburgh City Council, Cammy Day, told The Herald on Sunday that the capital’s 2030 net zero target remains his key ambition.

He said: “These are major challenges so it’s important that we set ourselves major targets.

“Our aims to eradicate poverty and become net-zero by 2030 are ambitious, but we need to be aspirational to make sure equality and sustainability stay at the top of our priority list.

“As the city council, it is our role to influence, support and enable the transition to net zero and we will continue to do so.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but setting these challenging targets has already helped us transform the way we and our partners work and think.

“So, we will continue to do everything in our power to reach these goals, and success will depend on everyone's participation and will be the result of collective efforts.”

Holyrood’s Net Zero Committee has warned ministers that “Scotland will not meet its ambitious target of being net zero by 2045 without a more empowered local government sector”.

In a key report, the cross-party group of MSPs stressed that “it is clear that in the run-up to 2045, councils will need additional resource”.

The document adds: “In this report we call for the Scottish Government to provide additional financial support to councils in future budget cycles, to help them contribute to national net zero targets.

“However, a clear message of this inquiry is that no amount of additional government funding is realistically likely to bridge the gap between the current reality and our national net zero ambitions.

“Private investment at scale will be needed in many sectors; in particular for the decarbonisation of transport and of heat in buildings.

“The Scottish Government and its agencies need to work with local government on an investment strategy that will increase investor appetite and lead to deals being agreed.”

The committee added that “there should be a frank acknowledgement that councils will not fully deliver on net zero without some additional financial support in their core funding”.

It added: “The Scottish Government should, in future annual budget cycles, set out how it will allocate additional resources to help councils contribute to national net zero targets.”