SNP ministers have been urged to match promises to end Scotland's contribution to the climate crisis with action after admitting that their next strategy will not set a complete path towards its 2045 net zero pledge.

Environmental campaigners have called for “positive, transformative steps” to be laid out in the next climate change plan, to be drawn up by SNP and Greens ministers by the end of 2023.

But SNP Net Zero Secretary, Michael Matheson, has admitted that the strategy will not provide a complete route to his 2045 net zero ambition – despite the UK Government publishing its plan for its 2050 vision ahead of Cop26 in Glasgow last year.

The Conservatives have claimed that the Scottish Government has “consistently failed to deliver real action on their environmental promises”.

Mr Matheson has confirmed that the next full climate change plan will be published by November 2023.

He added: “That plan will extend the emissions reduction pathway towards the ambitious 2040 target of a 90 per cent reduction and will include estimates of the costs and benefits of the policies to achieve that.

“In line with the requirements of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, in April I wrote to the Climate Change Committee to request its next set of regular advice on Scotland’s statutory targets.

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“That is expected in December and will help to ensure that our approach continues to reflect the rapidly evolving global landscape of economic circumstances and scientific evidence.”

The last version of the Scottish Government's climate change plan was heavily criticised by Climate Change Committee (CCC), which advises both Scottish and UK governments.

The CCC’s chief executive, Chris Stark, told MSPs that the strategy was “on the fringes of credibility” and has recommended that ministers should draw up an alternative proposals in case plans to use carbon capture and storage (CCS) to mitigate emissions do not materialise in reality.

There are fears that CCS funding may not match the ambition in time to have a real impact at the scale hoped for.

Ministers have also been under fire for delays in bringing forward a post-Brexit agriculture policy, with the sector lagging behind other industries in cutting emissions.

The CCC has also recommended a host of other policies such as encouraging behaviour change in the public including cutting the amount of red meat people consume – but ministers have yet to take forward any action.

Plans to decarbonise Scotland’s homes currently have a huge funding gap – while fears have been raised about the likelihood that Glasgow and Edinburgh can achieve their net zero plans by 2030.

READ MORE: Scotland's strategy to mitigate climate crisis 'not keeping pace'

Campaigners have called for clear action that will be brought forward.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s head of campaigns, Mary Church, said: “The new climate plan must spell out the positive, transformative steps the Government will take to ensure that we can slash pollution from how we heat our homes and travel around.

“It must also end the delusion that CCS and hydrogen can deliver any meaningful action to cut climate pollution within the next decade, if ever.”

She added: “The forthcoming climate plan must also show clearly how many emissions each policy would save, and set out impacts on jobs and measures to support just transition.

"Independent advisors at the UK Committee on Climate Change and MSPs have criticised the existing plan for a variety of failings including over-reliance on carbon capture and hydrogen technologies in their plans, and a lack of clear data to show how much emissions savings come from each policy.

“The new plan must address these issues and live up to the rhetoric of climate leadership coming from ministers."

Fabrice Leveque, climate and energy policy manager at WWF Scotland, has warned that plans are already falling short.

He said: “We already know that the Scottish Government’s policies are currently not enough to meet our climate targets this decade, and so the job for the next climate change plan must be to agree clear steps to urgently close this gap.

“Reductions in emissions are vital this decade if we’re to avoid the worst effects of climate change. In particular, we need to see stronger Government policies to cut our use of fossil fuels in heating and transport, and more ambition for a system of rural support that delivers for the climate and for nature.

“Not only will these changes cut climate pollution, they’re a chance to secure new green jobs and a healthier, fairer Scotland.”

Last week, Mr Matheson welcomed new figures showing that Scotland met its greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2020 – but he warned that levels of pollution are likely to “substantially rebound” after the strict lockdown measures have been lifted and normal levels of travel have resumed.

Legislation agreed by MSPs means that Scotland must cut 75% of 1990 levels of emissions by 2030 before eliminating the country's contribution to climate change by 2045.

Scottish Conservative shadow net zero secretary, Liam Kerr, has claimed that the “patchy” strategy is “typical of the SNP’s approach to the environment”.

He said: “Michael Matheson thinks he talks a good game on ‘matching the high ambition’ of this SNP Government, but the reality is that the SNP have consistently failed to deliver real action on their environmental promises.

“This strategy is shaping up to be equally inadequate.”

He added: “While we will have to wait to see the full content of the SNP’s plans, it’s concerning that some major elements appear to have already fallen by the wayside.

“And it is especially disappointing that there are no plans to set forth a much-needed positive strategy for agriculture, when the agriculture industry is so key to our environmental ambitions.

“If we are to meet our net zero targets, we urgently need a comprehensive, long-term strategy to take us forward – not more meaningless rhetoric.

“I hope that the SNP will deliver an ambitious and robust document next year, but looking at Michael Matheson’s current plans, I fear it will be another damp squib.”