Màiri McAllan has confirmed that the Scottish Government is to scrap a legally binding commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 75% by 2030.

However, the Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Net Zero and Energy described the decision to ditch the key climate target as “a minor legislative amendment.”

The minister told MSPs that the government accepted a recent report by the Climate Change Committee (CCC) that this interim target was now “out of reach.”

She told MSPs that while progress in reducing emissions will continue to be reported annually, the government would move to a “target approach based on five yearly carbon budgets.”

READ MORE: Can Scottish Government weasel out of climate commitments?

The minister was forced to apologise to the chamber after details of the statement were leaked to press.

She said she had instructed the Scottish Government's Permanent Secretary to conduct a inquiry to find the leaker.

In her statement, Ms McAllan said the government needed to concentrate on hitting the ambition to be net zero by 2045 “at a pace and scale that is feasible, fair and just.”

She announced a number of measures which she said would help do just that. 

They included plans to triple the number of electric vehicle charge points, with around 24,000 installed across Scotland by 2030.

She also said ministers would “explore a new national integrated ticketing system for public transport in Scotland”.

Ms McAllan also unveiled a pilot scheme with some Scottish farms to "establish future appropriate uptake of methane suppressing feed products or additives."

She also promised to launch a consultation on carbon land tax on the largest estates to "further incentivise peatland restoration, afforestation and renewable energy production.”

There was also a commitment to "take forward a new assembly/participative process, which, unlike previous assemblies, will develop public understanding of the implications of the transition to net zero for Scottish households and businesses."

The minister warned that “full delivery” of the Scottish Government’s plans would depend on Westminster “reversing the 9% cut to our capital budget”.

Ms McAllan told MSPs: “This government will not yield to climate culture wars.

“We will never shrink our duty to those impacted by climate change today and to future generations.

“Together we can tackle this crisis with the pace and urgency required.

"Indeed with very minor legislative amendments we will pave the way for continued ambitious and pragmatic delivery in this most important challenge.”

Environmental charities and opposition MSPs were scathing. There was, however, support for the government from the Scottish Greens. 

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s head of campaigns Imogen Dow said it was "the worst environmental decision in the history of the Scottish Parliament."

Ms Dow said that instead of a "significant response and a ramping up of action", the Scottish Government had "presented a weak package of re-heated ideas, many of which were already pledged years ago and never delivered."

RSPB Scotland said the decision was "massively worrying."

"Future generations will struggle to understand how our politicians couldn’t do more," they added.

Will Walker, from climate change charity Ashden, said that while it was did "not look good" that the targets had been scrapped, the government needed to "remain focused on the massive economic benefits of getting back on track."

He said: “Missing national emissions targets in Scotland is obviously a problem. However, it is the lack of a long-term, coherent, policy framework that works with the grain of local action and delivery that is the bigger issue here.”

Speaking in the chamber, Douglas Lumsden, Ms McAllan's Tory shadow, described the statement as  "a lot of smoke and mirrors, rehashing announcements and blaming everyone else they can for their own failure."

"But let us be crystal clear, the key areas of emissions are devolved: transport, housing, agriculture, all devolved.

"And this announcement is an absolute humiliation for the SNP, but even more humiliating for the Greens, who have ditched environmentalism for nationalism."

READ MORE: SNP-Green government to ditch key climate target

Labour's Sarah Boyack told MSPs that "ambitious targets were not backed up by ambitious action."

She said 18 April 2024 would "go down as the day that Scotland officially went from being a world leader in climate targets to a world leader in scrapping targets."

Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamitlon said what Ms McAllan described as a minor legislative amendment was "a monstrous generational betrayal from the SNP and their Green partners."

"It is a cynical attempt to dodge bad press by simply abolishing the climate change targets that they had repeatedly missed," he added.

Green MSP Maggie Chapman welcomed the package of measures announced by Ms McAllan: "Today must be a pivotal moment in our fight against the climate emergency for a Livable Future.

"We may have come halfway but that's the easy part.

"Decarbonising our homes,  transitioning to regenerative zero carbon farming, addressing transport emissions, transforming our economy; these are the challenges ahead.

"While the Scottish Government is making progress, we must go further and move faster. Today's package of measures to accelerate action will help make this happen." 

 A UK Government source said it was "laughable to suggest that somehow the UK Government is responsible for this SNP/Green failure."

They added: "The Scottish Government set the target and boasted about it for years, but it was all spin and no delivery."

Piers Forster from the CCC, said the removal of the target was "deeply disappointing."

They added: "We are reassured that the net zero target remains in place but interim targets and plans to deliver against them are what makes any net zero commitment credible.

"They are essential for enabling a stable transition that protects jobs and the welfare of citizens and provides new opportunities.

"Long term planning is vital for businesses, citizens, and future Parliaments. Today that has been undermined.  

"The CCC urges the Scottish Government to lay out and deliver against new commitments as soon as possible."