First Minister Humza Yousaf has hit back at Fergus Ewing for denying the climate crisis after the outspoken SNP MSP told the First Minister to “recycle” the Green ministers in his government to the backbenches.

Mr Yousaf failed to confirm whether plans to replace gas boilers will be delayed and refused to commit to when the Scottish Government will publish its crucial climate change plan that was due by the end of the month – only pointing to a statutory date of March 2025.

Mr Ewing has been a constant thorn in the side of the First Minister and was suspended by the SNP after voting against the party whip in a motion of no confidence against Greens minister Lorna Slater.

The Inverness and Nairn MSP lost his rag at First Minister's Questions amid speculation that the Scottish Government’s key heat in buildings proposals that could set out the transition from gas boilers to renewable systems, could be delayed.

Mr Yousaf told MSPs that the Scottish Government “will consult very shortly on detailed proposals for a heat in buildings bill”.

Read more: SNP-Green Government poised to delay climate change plan

He added that “we will ask everyone across Scotland to help us design and deliver that in the best way possible”.

The FM said: “That consultation will provide more detail on when and how the proposed changes will take effect.

“Moving to clean heating systems will tackle climate change and reduce the exposure of homes and businesses to volatile fossil fuel prices.

“Let me be clear that we simply cannot meet our legal targets for tackling climate change if we do not end our use of gas boilers.”

But Mr Ewing took aim at the First Minister and called on the Scottish Government to cut ties with the Scottish Greens over what he claimed was a flawed strategy.

He said: “We all agree that there is an acute housing shortage in this country. 

"Yet, Homes for Scotland, Cala Homes, Taylor Woodrow and Persimmon—all of which are major house builders—have repeatedly warned that the heat pump targets, especially for new builds, have had the effect of forcing up house-building costs so that fewer homes are being built in Scotland.

Read more: Ministers to delay plan for heat pumps to replace boilers from 2025

“If the First Minister wants to tackle the housing shortage, will he consign the Scottish Green Party’s half-baked, pie-in-the-sky policy to the bin, where it belongs, alongside the deposit return scheme and highly protected marine areas?

“Will he recycle his Green ministers to the back benches, where they belong, and then meet industry and real experts—actual experts to work out a plan to solve the problem?”

But Mr Yousaf hit back at his SNP colleague, suggesting he is a climate denier.

He said that Mr Ewing’s proposals “are not the most sensible ones for him to suggest that we introduce”.

The First Minister said: “I do not believe that we can simply put our heads in the sand and ignore the scale of the climate crisis that we face.

“It is true that the house construction sector faces challenges. We need only look at the sky-high, rocketing inflation that has been caused by the Conservative UK Government.

Read more: Patrick Harvie: Why we need to change the way we heat our homes

“Let us tackle that inflation and those high construction costs. Not only have we had targets for house building; we have made significant investment in the sector in the course of this parliamentary session and beyond.”

He added: “When it comes to ensuring that we replace gas boilers, we will not consign that policy to the dustbin of history at all. In fact, history will judge very poorly people who are climate sceptics or climate deniers in the face of the climate crisis that is harming our planet.”

Asked when the now-delayed climate change plan will be published, Mr Yousaf said it would happen “before the statutory target” of March 2025.