SNP and Greens ministers have been accused of failing to bring forward “any credible plan” to get Scotland’s legal ambitions to cut carbon emissions back on track after failing to meet aims for the last three years.

Earlier this year, Net Zero Secretary Michael Matheson promised to publish a “catch-up plan” after Scottish Government statistics showed that against a legal target of reducing 1990 levels of emissions by 55 per cent by 2019, only 51.5% had been achieved – leaving a gap of 2.7Mt of CO2 to be found.

But the catch-up plan has been criticised for containing a “rehashing of previous SNP promises”.

In the 15-page document, government officials stressed they “are confident that this policy package will go beyond the 2.7 MtCO2e required to make up to the missed 2019 target”.

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The report adds that the expected changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) alone, which currently generates a carbon price for energy intensive industries such as fossil fuel power generation and domestic flights, “are likely to significantly exceed the amount of emissions reduction required”.

The document insists that “a significant number of announcements and policy commitments have been made” since the Scottish Government published its updated climate change plan in 2020.

It points to manifesto promises and policies set out in the Programme for Government last month as well as the co-operation deal struck between Nicola Sturgeon’s party and the Scottish Greens.

Specifically, the catch-up plan highlights a commitment to “remove the majority of fossil fuel buses in public transport by 2023, which represents the replacement of some 2,200 vehicles”.

But the Herald exclusively revealed earlier this month that up to £640 million of missing cash will need to be found to upgrade polluting diesel buses.

READ MORE: £640m funding black hole emerges in SNP's zero carbon buses vision

The plan also focuses on a previous announcement for “phased targets for the decarbonisation of public sector buildings, starting in 2024” with an ambition for “all publicly-owned buildings to meet zero emissions heating requirements with a backstop of 2038”m despite the Scottish Government's climate change strategy only running until 2032.

It also highlights Patrick Harvie’s announcement earlier this month that all home and building upgrades at certain trigger points will be required to meet EPC C standards from 2025, with a backstop for all homes by 2033.

The government document says that officials will “undertake s coping work” this year on a single marketing brand for all Scottish food and drink produce, to be known as “Sustainably Scottish”.

The branding would be available to “all Scottish-based producers, manufacturers and suppliers who can satisfy stringent criteria on provenance and low carbon operations” and comes after the agriculture has bene unable to cut emissions at a fast pace, compared to other sectors of the economy.

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The SNP-Greens strategy also stressed that over the next five years, “new roads projects will only be taken forward where they reduce the maintenance backlog, address road safety concerns or adapt the network to deal with the impacts of climate change or benefit communities such as by bypassing settlements”.

It adds: “We will no longer build road infrastructure to cater for forecast unconstrained increases in traffic volumes but instead we will focus our investment in managing and maintaining the existing road trunk network as signalled in the Infrastructure Investment Plan.”

But opposition parties have criticised the blueprint and called for more action to cut Scotland’s harmful emissions.

Scottish Conservative spokesperson for net zero, energy and transport, Liam Kerr, said: “This lacks any credible plan for how the SNP are going to address three years of missed climate-change targets.

The Herald: Liam KerrLiam Kerr

“There is no ambition in tackling climate change, just a rehashing of previous SNP promises.

“Those living in rural communities will be deeply concerned that the SNP - having failed to properly maintain the existing road infrastructure - are now reneging on their commitment to upgrading road networks, like the dualling of the A96 network.

“As COP26 approaches and world leaders come together to discuss the climate emergency, the SNP needed to produce a real plan, not hollow slogans on how Scotland is going to contribute to net zero.”

READ MORE: SNP and Greens criticised ahead of COP26 after failing to hit renewable heating target

Scottish Labour’s Monica Lennon branded the plan as “underwhelming”, adding that it “sums up the SNP’s approach to the environment”.

She said: “Once again they are big on rhetoric but completely lacking in policy. “The SNP are doing more recycling than most local authorities, as they rehash existing policies once again. “We won’t fix the problem with more of the same. “We need real ambition in order to meet our climate targets, but it seems the SNP are out of ideas.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We have made a large number of significant new announcements since the updated climate change plan was finalised in March of this year.

"The catch-up report includes a selection of the policies and proposals that will advance and strengthen our emissions pathway over the period to 2032.

“We are confident that this policy package will go beyond the emissions savings required to make up for the missed 2019 annual target.

“Scotland has one of the most ambitious legislative frameworks for emissions reduction in the world. This framework not only includes world-leading annual targets, but requires us to outperform on future targets if past targets have been missed.

He added: "We are proud to take accountability in this way, delivering upon our promises and ensuring we rapidly reduce our emissions. We are committed to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the latest, through decisive and meaningful action across all sectors.

“We look forward to welcoming global leaders to Glasgow for COP26 this weekend and will be proud to share Scotland’s story and progress to date.”