The Scottish Government has suffered a humiliating dressing down from experts who are concerned about the lack of progress the administration has made on climate change after ministers snubbed the oil and gas industry to court the green vote.

The criticism came as the UK won votes of confidence from energy giants for measures to boost renewables investment that will cost householders around £1 billion, amid claims the windfall tax has put thousands of North Sea jobs at risk.

After years in which the SNP Government put the fight against climate change at the top of the agenda while trying to show it was more committed than Tory ministers at Whitehall, its failure to deliver was laid bare in a withering report last week.

The independent Climate Change Committee (CCC) said Scotland’s 2030 climate goals looked impossible to achieve and complained the government had no comprehensive strategy for the country to decarbonise towards Net Zero.

“The Scottish Government delayed its draft Climate Change Plan last year despite the 2030 target only being six years away,” lamented the committee, whose members include Professor Keith Bell of the University of Strathclyde.

“The required acceleration in emissions reduction in Scotland is now beyond what is credible,” it added.

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Under former first minister Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP Government said Scotland would achieve net zero by 2045. The move appeared designed to discomfit the UK Government which set a target date of 2050.

The criticism by the CCC was particularly damning because the committee put blame for the lack of progress north of the border on the Scottish Government, which tends to pin responsibility for any underachievement on ‘London’.

“There are risks in all reviewed areas, including those with significant policy powers devolved to the Scottish Government,” said the CCC.

Noting that most key indicators of progress are off track, the committee highlighted failures in areas ranging from tree planting and peatland restoration rates to heat pump installations.

“Scotland has laudable ambitions to decarbonise, but it isn’t enough to set a target; the Government must act,” it concluded.

The judgement highlights a failing common to the SNP governments that have held power since 2007: They have found it much easier to make bold policy declarations than to deliver on them.

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In September 2021 public spending watchdog Stephen Boyle noted a “major implementation gap between policy ambitions and delivery on the ground” in Scotland.

When she was First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon seemed to focus her energies on making moves that would secure opportunities to get selfies with Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg.

In practice this meant opposing North Sea oil and gas activity, including plans for the development of the bumper Cambo field off Shetland which could have generated hundreds of jobs.

In the 2014 independence campaign Ms Sturgeon and Alex Salmond insisted the oil and gas industry could secure a prosperous future for a free Scotland.

While he was First Minister Alex Salmond also boasted that Scotland would become the Saudi Arabia of marine renewables only to watch leading lights of the industry go bust.

Hopes that renewables firms would create huge numbers of jobs have been disappointed as firms based outside Scotland have hogged the benefits of investment made in windfarms and the like.

READ MORE: Scottish Government dithers as investors cash in on renewables boom

Ms Sturgeon’s administration was accused of failing the Burntisland Fabrications turbines business after it went into administration in 2020. The government claimed its hands were tied by rules on state aid set by the EU, which it wants Scotland to rejoin.

Ms Sturgeon’s successor, Humza Yousaf, felt able to announce in October that the Scottish Government would commit £500 million to an offshore wind supply chain development fund. Mr Yousaf did not explain why he needed to make such a move after all his predecessors boasted they had done to support Scotland’s world leading renewables industry.

It was significant that MSPs last week raised serious questions about the effectiveness of the £500m Just Transition Fund launched by the Government in 2021. The Government has only budgeted to deploy £12m of the fund in the 2024-25 financial year, down 75% on the preceding period.

As Mr Yousaf winced about the contents of the CCC report, Friends of the Earth Scotland urged the Scottish Government not to follow the example of the UK Government and ditch key climate commitments.

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in September that the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars would be delayed to 2035, from 2030. Plans to stop gas boilers being fitted in new homes were pushed back to 2035, from 2025.

The CCC expressed concern about those decisions but welcomed tangible positive policy progress in some key areas, citing the deal with Tata Steel for industrial electrification in Port Talbot.

In June the committee had said the scale up of action to support the UK’s net zero drive was “worryingly slow”.

Since then, Mr Sunak’s government has won votes of confidence from energy giants that are set to plough billions of pounds into the UK economy.

READ MORE: Energy giant to invest £4bn in Scotland with hundreds of jobs in prospect

On Thursday Scottish Power announced that it expects to invest a record €10 billion (£9bn) in the UK between now and the end of 2026, including €5.2bn in Scotland.

The Spanish-owned company plans to develop wind farms in the UK and to upgrade the networks that will be used to transport renewable energy to users across the country.

Glasgow-based Scottish Power expects to create around 1,000 further jobs in the UK by the end of 2026 with the majority in Scotland.

It made the latest investment decision weeks after the UK Government announced that firms would benefit from £800 million support for offshore wind developments under the next round of the Contracts for Difference (CFD) subsidy scheme.

The costs of the programme are added to the energy bills paid by households and business.

In a recent trading update, SSE said “continued improvement in the long-term policy and regulatory environment” underpinned its net zero-focused strategy. The Perth-based heavyweight highlighted the CFD funding and the progress made in developing the routes to market required for Carbon Capture and Storage, hydrogen and long duration energy storage projects.

But industry leaders have warned the development of low carbon power sources and the UK’s energy security could be undermined by the fallout from the windfall tax imposed on the North Sea oil and gas industry in 2022.

After Jeremy Hunt extended the term of the tax in the Spring Budget oil and gas figures warned the move could lead to big cuts in investment offshore and result in thousands of job losses.

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In the Business Outlook report published today Offshore Energies UK says: “Without stable energy policy and a globally competitive tax regime, the UK will miss out on the lion’s share of the benefits from a domestic offshore energy market that could grow to £450bn by 2040.”

Aberdeen oil services heavyweight Wood is expected to announce today that it plans to shed hundreds of jobs.

 If the cuts are confirmed, critics of the windfall tax will claim to have been vindicated. Others might feel redundancies on the scale involved would underline how hard it is for firms to support the energy transition while generating the returns needed to keep shareholders sweet.