MINISTERS are being urged to raise their ambitions on climate change by introducing tougher targets to address air pollution.

More than 8000 people responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on its Climate Change Bill calling for zero toxic emissions by 2050, and a 77 per cent decrease by 2030.

They say the current aim for a 63.5 per cent reduction by 2030, which the Bill proposes to increase to 66 per cent by 2030, and then to 90 per cent by 2050, does not go far enough.

Tom Ballantine, chair of environmental coalition Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS), which wrote to the First Minister last week, said: “In 2009 Scotland was setting the pace internationally when we agreed our climate targets but now people are urging the Scottish Government to keep the country on the leaderboard on this issue.

“The urgency of the climate crisis has grown in the intervening years and Scots want to see more done to ensure we continue to deliver leading action.”

The Scottish Government is revising its plans following the historic Paris climate deal agreed in December 2015.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s State of the Climate in 2016 report revealed earlier this year that 2016 was globally the hottest year on record, surpassing 2015 and 2014 for record temperatures.

Ballantine added: “The most up to date climate science clearly demonstrates that we need to rapidly cut emissions if we are to avoid catastrophic temperature increases and irreversible change.

“The question is not will we act, it is will we act fast enough? The Scottish Government has proposed a target of 90 per cent reduction by 2050 but this simply doesn’t go far enough. It is only a minor improvement on what we were already aiming for a decade ago.”

He continued: “As well as ambitious emissions targets, people want to see the concrete policies that help us meet these goals.

“Our climate plans should deliver real action to make every home a warm home, stop the sale of fossil-fuelled vehicles by the end of the next decade and provide help for farmers to go greener.

“The additional benefits of acting now are many: a reduction in deadly air pollution, less fuel poverty, reducing local environmental pollution from agriculture along with the economic advantage gained by leading rather than following.”

Research from WWF Scotland recently revealed that 68 per cent of Scots want to see the government invest in projects that cut emissions, with 76 per cent wanting to see more done to improve the energy efficiency of homes.

Transport is the biggest polluter, responsible for 27 per cent of emissions, followed by agriculture which accounts for 22.5 per cent.

Last month the UK Government announced a ban on diesel and petrol car sales from 2040. The Scottish Government had previously pledged to reduce sales of fossil-fuelled vehicles to just 60 per cent by 2032, but SCCS wants the phase out of the sale of new fossil fuel cars by 2030.

By comparison India is aiming for no new fossil fuel cars by 2030 and Norway by 2025.

The 8000 responses calling for more ambitions targets have been submitted through a range of organisations including Oxfam, Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth and WWF.

The Climate Change (Scotland) Act passed in 2009 helped to establish Scotland as a world-leader in tackling climate change and requires ministers to publish regular plans for meeting future emission reduction targets. The consultation on the new Bill ends on September 22.