By Sarah Beattie-Smith, Senior Climate and Energy Policy Officer, WWF Scotland

THIS week the Scottish Government announced that it hit the annual target for cutting climate changing emissions. The news that emissions fell by three per cent from 2014 to 2015 was welcomed by us and many other environmental groups. It’s yet more evidence that we can meet ambitious targets and it should drive even stronger action to embrace the benefits of a low-carbon Scotland – from cleaner air to job creation and from improving health to cutting fuel poverty.

The hit target shows that real progress has been made on waste and on energy, particularly on renewables, which now meet more than half of Scotland’s electricity demand. That progress means that, for the first time, the energy sector is no longer the biggest emitter. That unwelcome honour now falls to transport – a sector where emissions have barely changed in 30 years. Indeed, emissions from transport went up by 0.4 per cent in 2015, largely due to increased road traffic. Such poor progress on emissions underline the urgent need for bold, transformative action.

Across the world, other nations are setting high ambitions on switching from polluting fossil-fuelled cars to low or zero-carbon electric vehicles. In India, a target has been set to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in favour of 100 per cent electric vehicles by 2030. In Norway, that target is for 2025. In Scotland, our goal is to phase out just half of fossil-fuelled vehicles by 2030, and only in urban environments. That equates to only 27 percent of new cars being electric by 2030. If Scotland is to retain its reputation as a world leader on climate change, we need to at least keep up with other nations, if not exceed their ambition.

The other headline from this week’s announcement was the increase in emissions from our homes where emissions rose three per cent from 2014 to 2015. The increase is largely due to higher heating demand with winter 2015 being 1.4 degrees cooler than 2014. But it shows just how vulnerable Scotland’s homes are to changes in the weather and emphasises the urgent need for substantial action to improve the energy efficiency of our homes. In 2015 the Scottish Government took the welcome step of designating energy efficiency as a National Infrastructure Priority. But two years later, we’re yet to see any firm proposals on how they’ll deliver that goal, or the step change in funding needed to pay for it. We will continue to push for meaningful action – like improving the energy efficiency of our homes so that the vast majority of our homes reach a band C by 2025.

The final Climate Change Plan, due later this year, and the forthcoming Climate Change Bill are key opportunities to set out ambitious new policies and targets to deliver the benefits of a low carbon future.

A new Climate Change Bill is a chance for Scotland to reaffirm its place as a world leader on climate change. Last week the First Minister committed to using the new Bill to implement the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, signed by more than190 countries. This must mean setting a date for reaching zero emissions no later than 2050, and increasing action to reduce emissions in the short-term through increased policy action in the areas where emissions aren’t coming down, like transport, buildings and agriculture. If Scotland is to play its part on the global stage and to reap the benefits of cleaner air, better health and a thriving, sustainable economy, we must seize the opportunity that this new Climate Change Bill affords. Anything less will be too little, too late.