First Minister Humza Yousaf is being urged to use next month’s Scottish Budget to force the richest Scots to “clean up their acts” over damaging pollution amid new research that wealthier Scots are contributing more to the climate crisis.

Campaigners at Oxfam Scotland made the plea ahead of the draft budget for 2024-25 being unveiled at Holyrood on December 19.

The charity wants taxes to be used to encourage those who are responsible for more pollution to change their behaviour.

Oxfam has appealed to Mr Yousaf to act before he travels to the COP28 climate conference in Dubai later this month.

Research by Oxfam has indicated the UK Government could have raised up to £23 billion last year alone if it had implemented “common-sense taxes” which would have impacted on both fossil fuel companies and the extremely rich.

Meanwhile, analysis by Future Economy Scotland has highlighted a difference in emissions linked to the behaviours of the richest and poorest people.

Looking at private transport, – including cars and motorcycles – it found the carbon footprint of the 5% of wealthiest households was 10 times that of the poorest 5% of households over the period 2017 to 2019.

For aviation, it found the gap was larger, with the carbon footprint for the richest 5% of households 11 times that of the poorest 5%.

Jamie Livingstone, the head of Oxfam Scotland, said: “Climate culpability is crystal clear: around the world and here in Scotland, the climate crisis is being driven disproportionately by the excessive lifestyles of the richest people.

“Meanwhile, globally, people living in poverty who have barely contributed to the climate emergency are losing their lives, livelihoods, and homes.”

Calling for action from Mr Yousaf, he added: “If the First Minister is to build and maintain critical public support for the depth and speed of transition that’s needed, climate action must be patently fair.

“That means he must do everything in his power to compel the richest to clean up their acts while paying the bill for the damage they’re causing.”

Laurie Macfarlane, co-director of Future Economy Scotland, said research has indicated that in both Scotland and the rest of the world, “climate change and inequality are inherently linked, with a strong correlation between household incomes and carbon footprints”.

Mr Macfarlane continued: “This clear carbon inequality should be reflected in both the Scottish Government’s plans and policies as it seeks to get back on track in meeting its target of delivering a just transition to net zero by 2045.

“The First Minister must make a bold, concerted effort to ensure the costs of decarbonisation are shared in a way that’s fair and just, by showing he has both the political will and courage to make polluters pay.”

Earlier this month, the Herald exclusively revealed that the Scottish Government has delayed its crucial updated climate change plan, which was due to be published by the end of the month, until next year.

SNP Net Zero Secretary, Mairi McAllan blamed the delay on the UK Government and Rishi Sunak rolling back several UK-wide climate policies.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government is committed to tackling the climate emergency urgently and fairly.

“While the majority of taxes remain reserved to the UK Government, we are committed to using the limited powers we do have to help meet our climate targets.

“Tackling poverty is one of the three missions at the heart of our Programme for Government and our 2024/25 Budget will be utilised to make progress to achieving this.”