THE SCOTTISH Government has been accused of “failing to live up to the rhetoric” of world-leading climate change aims after being unable to meet annual emissions targets for the third year in a row.

Nicola Sturgeon has admitted that a joint effort is needed to “go further and faster” to get things back on track.

A report published by the Scottish Government this week found that against a target of reducing emissions by 55% by 2019 from 1990 levels, only a 51.5% cut was made – the third straight year the annual target has been missed.

Scotland has pledged to become a net zero economy by 2045 and MSPs have promised to cut 1990 levels of emissions by a staggering 75% by 2030.

READ MORE: SNP fails to hit greenhouse gas targets for third straight year

Speaking at First Minister’s Question, Green co-leader Patrick Harvie, called for more action to get progress back on track.

He said: ”During the election, the First Minister had to explain why her Government had missed two climate targets in a row.

“This week a third annual climate target came and went and Scotland is falling even further behind.”

Mr Harvie added: “On home energy use, transport, farming and land use, the Government is failing to live up to the rhetoric about world-leading targets.

“Year after year, the Greens propose stronger action and year after year we’re told ‘don’t worry, we have a new climate plan’.

“Now with a third year of missed targets, the only difference is that the Government has had to admit just months after publishing their new plan that it too needs to be replaced. This is not the bold leadership that’s needed.”

The First Minister told Mr Harvie that “none of us are yet doing enough right to get to the point we need to get to”.

She added: We need all of us to accelerate our progress.

We, of course, want to hit those targets and we’ve got more to do to get there.

“But we shouldn’t overlook the scale of our progress. Emissions in Scotland, in the report this week, are down by 51.5% - the target was 55%. That means that we are more than halfway to net zero – we are further ahead than the rest of the UK and further ahead than most other countries across the world.

“We will publish a catch-up to show not just what we’re doing through the plan but how we are going to accelerate to catch up.”

Ms Sturgeon stressed that “all of us across the world have got to live up to this”.

She said: “Scotland, like other countries, has got to accelerate progress but Scotland is already further ahead of most other countries and I want us to make sure not just that we maintain that position, but that we get even further ahead so that we’re leading more by example.”

But Mr Harvie says he was “not so fussed about being further ahead of the UK because I don’t think that would be aby great boast”.

He added: “I want us to be further ahead than our own targets say we should be.

“I think Scottish farmers are facing a perfect storm at the moment. They have a need to make even bigger emission cuts to make up for the wasted years, they have a need to adapt to a changing climate and protect wildlife and the UK Climate Change Committee (CCC) this week said that both the Scottish and UK governments are failing on that agenda.

READ MORE: SNP minister admits missed emissions target 'wake-up call'

”We need to radically reform agricultural subsidies to meet these challenges. But the Scottish Government currently intends to put this off until 2024.”

The First Minister admitted that “how we use land is a really important part of how we meet out targets for the future”.

The latest report showed that that Scotland has now lost benefit from its ‘carbon sink’ where trees and grassland sequester harmful carbon with land use and forestry now shown to be a "net source” of Scotland’s emissions for the first time, rather than help mitigate emissions in other areas.

Ms Sturgeon added: “Agriculture is a central part of this. We can’t just wish all of these changes into being. There is hard work underway and hard work to be done to bring them about.

“We are ahead of most other countries in the world. I do think it is important to try and motivate us to go further that we don’t lose sight of the significant progress we have already made.

“I do think that it is important that we are all challenged to go further and faster on this. That determination is there.”