SCOTLAND’S “baby box generation” may never drive conventional petrol or diesel cars, the First Minister said, as she spoke out about what she said was a moral imperative to tackle climate change.

Nicola Sturgeon was also clear, however, that efforts to make Scotland go greener presented a major economic opportunity for the country.

She used a speech in Iceland to highlight the close links between Scotland and the Nordic countries – pointing out the baby box of infant products now being given free to new parents in Scotland was based on a similar scheme in Finland.

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And with advances in technology, coupled with the Scottish Government’s ambition to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles from 2032 onwards, she said the youngsters currently benefiting from baby boxes may never drive this type of vehicle.

The First Minister said: “We see tackling climate change, first and foremost, as an overwhelming moral imperative. However we also see it as a major economic opportunity.

“Scotland already employs almost 60,000 people in low carbon industries, and there is scope for significant further growth.”

Speaking at the Arctic Circle Assembly, she stressed her Government’s determination to play its part in global efforts to tackle climate change, saying renewables now generated more than half of the electricity used in Scotland.

But she added: “We know that we need to go even further. We decided last week not to allow fracking in Scotland.

“This week, I announced that by the end of this parliament, Scotland would establish a new publicly-owned energy company.

“Later in this parliament, we will legislate to further strengthen our climate change targets.

“And we are setting other ambitious long-term goals. Last month, I announced that by 2032 Scotland aims to eliminate the need for new diesel and petrol cars and vans.

“Scotland’s baby box generation – the children who received those first baby boxes in August – will probably never drive new conventional petrol cars.”

Stressing the close ties between Scotland and Scandinavia, Sturgeon said the Arctic nations provided five of the 10 largest sources of foreign investment in Scotland and were three out of six of the country’s biggest export markets.

She said: “That reflects the fact that we have strong ties – not just in energy and low-carbon technology, but in areas from food and drink and sustainable tourism, to other fields such as education, life sciences and advanced engineering.

“I believe that all of us have a huge amount to gain from further integration and collaboration.

“And it’s maybe worth stressing that the benefits of collaboration apply to social policy, as well as economic policy.

“Since August of this year, parents of newborn babies across Scotland have received baby boxes. That’s a policy we learned about from Finland.

“We are also finding out about Denmark’s experience in delivering disability benefits. And we are working with Iceland and others on issues such as the protection of vulnerable children.”

Sturgeon added: “No country has all of the answers, but Arctic countries on many measures are doing pretty well.

“For example they account for five of the top 11 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index.

“So for Scotland, it clearly makes sense for us to look north as well as south when we tackle major social and economic challenges.”

With Britain leaving the European Union, the First Minister again argued that staying in the single market was in both Scotland and the UK’s best interests.

She said: “We believe it is the best way – or at least, the least worst way – to protect our scientific research base, preserve jobs and retain the rights of EU citizens.

“And it also forms the best basis for trading and co-operating with countries across the world – including the nations of this Arctic Circle Assembly.

“In all of this, Scotland is determined, despite Brexit, to remain an open, internationalist, outward looking nation. Strengthening our role in the Arctic Circle is an important part of that.”