CLIMATE Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has said Scotland’s status as an international leader in the field will be reinforced through new proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 90 per cent by 2050.

She told MSPs a public consultation will shortly start on a proposed Climate Change Bill to raise further Scotland’s ambitions. She announced the details in the Scottish Parliament during a statement on the publication of 2015 statistics which show Scotland met its annual target for the second consecutive year, although emissions actually rose.

Cunningham also said the Scottish Government will set up an expert advisory group to help with the finalisation of the draft Climate Change Plan before publication in early 2018 and help communities reduce carbon emissions in their areas by reopening the Climate Challenge Fund for 2018-19 applications.

“Scotland has long punched above its weight on this issue. Moving towards new targets in our proposed Climate Change Bill will strengthen our position at the forefront of the global transition to a low carbon economy,” she said.

“As a country which has an international reputation as a climate change leader there is now a huge opportunity to reap the economic and social benefits of our efforts and for us to become a more sustainable economy. We are determined to seize this opportunity, and fulfil our moral obligations to future generations.”

Emissions in 2015 were 41 per cent below the benchmark levels for 1990, against which the targets are set, but total emissions since 2014 are 1.8 per cent higher. Transport has overtaken energy supply as the biggest contributor to source emissions.

This is attributed to a decrease in the amount of coal being burnt at Longannet power station and a shift in reliance on nuclear power.

Scottish Greens, meanwhile, say emissions will continue to rise under the SNP if the party continues with its plans to cut Air Passenger Duty.

Mark Ruskell, a Mid Scotland and Fife MSP, said: “Scotland has made progress on renewable energy, but the SNP approach to transport policy is still borrowed from the 1980s. These figures show that a change is needed. People throughout Scotland will want to know why the SNP is proposing unacceptable tax cuts for wealthy frequent flyers, but failing to make it cheaper to travel everyday by bus and train.”

Jim Densham from Stop Climate Chaos Scotland added: “This shows that real progress is being made towards securing the clean energy revolution which our economy and society needs. The forthcoming Climate Change Plan and the Climate Change Bill are key opportunities to set out policies to deliver the benefits of a low carbon future.”