SCOTS want their country to be “at the forefront” of efforts to tackle climate change and the Scottish Government is being urged to raise its ambitions to that end.

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) said more than 17,000 people had responded to a consultation calling on the Scottish Government to aim for zero climate emissions by 2050 at the latest, instead of its target of a 90 per cent reduction.

Respondents also wanted Holyrood to implement a range of policies to help deliver a cleaner, healthier, greener Scotland.

SCCS chair Tom Ballantine said: “Climate change is the greatest problem of our time. People want Scotland to be at the forefront of the global effort to overcome that challenge.

“The ferocious Atlantic hurricanes, deadly floods in South Asia and the ongoing drought in East Africa show that we have no time to waste – 17,000 people have backed the First Minister’s call that Scotland should live up to the commitments in the Paris Climate Agreement.

“At the same time a strong new Climate Act will create jobs, improve health, and reduce poverty.

“The Scottish Government’s announcement that it will phase out fossil fuelled cars shows it is listening to our campaign and the many people who want Scotland to lead on climate action.

“We now need to build on that ambition with a target of net-zero climate emissions by 2050 at the latest. That ambitious goal would provide certainty, respect what climate science tells us we need to do and help guide decisions and choices for the coming decades.

“We hope all Scotland’s political leaders hear our campaign and deliver a Climate Bill that commits to zero emissions and action for warmer homes, healthier transport options and a thriving, efficient agricultural sector.”

For the new Climate Bill to match the ambition of the Paris Agreement, SCCS says it must set a target of zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest, with a reduction of 77 per cent by 2030, ensure future finance budgets are consistent with climate targets and commit to actions that cut emissions and deliver a cleaner and healthier Scotland.

These actions include making all homes efficient and warm, with an energy performance rating of at least C by 2025, and ensuring transport is cleaner with the sale of new fossil fuel cars phased out by 2030 to reduce emissions and clean up air pollution.

An online petition organised by campaign group 38 Degrees has attracted more than 7500 signatures.

Gordon Maloney, a 38 Degrees campaigner for Scotland, said: “People across the country want the Scottish Government to take bold action on climate change.

“Scotland has shown strong leadership on climate change in the past, and it is clear today that thousands of people will be expecting that to continue, and watching closely to make sure it does.

“It is our own futures at stake, and we know that there can be no excuse for inaction or for doing the bare minimum.”

The consultation closes tomorrow and the government will analyse responses before introducing a Bill next year.

Ballantine urged everyone to respond to the consultation, adding: “We want as many people as possible to send a message to the Scottish Government – don’t delay, now is the time to act for our future.”