“What the UK Government has done," said  Mairi McAllan,  "is a derailing of progress. I’m still trying to consider all the implications on it. I want to remain on course but we have to be realistic."

The Net Zero Secretary, was explaining why the  Scottish Government, due to publish its updated strategy to reduce emissions this month, looks now set to delay the publication of the plan into next year - and pointing the finger at Rishi Sunak's policies.

Delay can be infectious. It is often a preferred tactic on anything that is difficult, however necessary. It tends to spread by making all elsed seem unreasonable or not "realistic", (a word, along with 'pragmatic',  often used by Sunak around Net Zero).

The King's speech represented a lesson in reading between the lines and trying to interpret the UK Government doublespeak. Delivered by a king who has made climate his cause, in a weary tone of seeming reluctance and rebellion, what stood out was the description of how his government would continue "to lead action on tackling climate change and biodiversity loss”.

Lead seems hardly the right word. The leadership we have seen lately from Sunak, particularly since his September u-turn on Net Zero policies, has been more about slowing than leading. 

His diluting of green policies - widely seen as an attempt to create distance from Labour's Net Zero strategy -  slows action on climate even at a time when reports tell us that 1.5C may well be breached before the end of the decade.

A fear is that this strategy will take down Scotland's Net Zero aspirations with it - and may already be doing so - not only because of the impact of those policies, but because of the spread of their story about how action is too costly and punitive to working people. 

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Sunak's u-turns may be being used as an excuse for delay, but it looks likely UK Government policy is at least somewhat to blame, since key areas the Scottish Government was set to target were transport and heat in buildings and these are exactly those being slowed.

The UK prime minister's policies, many of them announced in September,  have included the delaying of the ban on all petrol and diesel cars till 2035 and a weakening of the targets on gas boilers. 

For  Scotland to reach its ambitious targets by 2045 it has to be able to make progress on transport, a target which has been repeatedly missed. But Scotland does not itself have the power to ban sales of petrol and diesel cars. 

With fossil fuel vehicles still on the UK market for longer, Scotland's ability to meet its domestic transport target will be inhibited. 

Remaining "on course" would mean sticking to Scotland's ambitious targets - and refusing to see them as unreasonable in a heating world. It would mean not just reworking Scotland's strategy, but also arguing hard that such is indeed "realistic".