SCOTTISH ministers have backed tough new targets which could see the country become carbon neutral by 2040.

The government have lodged amendments to the Climate Change Bill which will set a legally binding target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the latest.

The change follows Nicola Sturgeon declaring a “climate emergency” at last weekend’s SNP conference.

The First Minister told delegates that when the independent Committee on Climate Change published new scientific advice on Scotland’s targets, her government would accept them.

“If that advice says we can go further or go faster, we will do so,” she said. “Scotland will lead by example.”

The advice, described by one academic as a “blueprint for a revolution”, said Scotland could shave 10 years off current ambitions.

The committee recommended a legally binding target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

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In addition, Scotland will now aim to reduce emissions by 70% by 2030 and 90% by 2040. These, the government says, are the most ambitious statutory targets in the world for these years.

However, the committee’s recommended targets for Scotland are contingent on the UK adopting a net-zero greenhouse gas emission target for 2050.

Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham called on ministers in Defra to follow Scotland’s lead: “There is a global climate emergency and people across Scotland have been calling, rightly, for more ambition to tackle it and safeguard our planet for future generations.

“Having received independent, expert advice that even higher targets are now possible, and given the urgency required on this issue, I have acted immediately to set a target for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for 2045 which will see Scotland become carbon neutral by 2040.”

She added: “Every single one of us now needs to take more action – not just the Scottish Government but also all businesses, schools, communities, individuals and organisations. The UK Government must also act.

“The Committee on Climate Change says that Scotland’s ability to meet these world-leading targets is contingent on the UK Government also accepting their advice and using the relevant policy levers that remain reserved.

“As such, I call on the UK Government to follow our lead, accept the committee’s advice and work with us to achieve this goal.

“We can, and we must, end our contribution to climate change. I invite everyone to accept the advice we’ve received and work with us in a just and fair transition to a net-zero economy.”

It is not yet clear what the practical implications of the new targets will be, but the committee reportedly suggests a rapid rollout of new policies, including a quadrupling of low-carbon electricity and heating, making all new cars and vans electric by 2035 or earlier and more investment in carbon capture and storage.

Scottish Labour environment and climate change spokesperson Claudia Beamish welcomed the committee’s report, but called on the government to drop plans to cut air passenger duty to zero.

She said: “To get there we need to ditch damaging policies like the SNP’s tax cut for frequent flyers and properly ban fracking. We must support a statutory just transition commission to move to well-paid jobs in the net-zero economy, supporting all sectors and affected communities.

“This is the future of our planet, the water we drink and the air we breathe.

“We have a duty to our children, grandchildren and the global south to tackle climate change now – and we will make sure the forthcoming Climate Change Bill delivers on climate and intergenerational justice.”

Professor David Reay, chair in carbon management, University of Edinburgh, said the report “changes everything”.

“It is a blueprint for a revolution in every facet of our lives, from how we power our homes and travel to work, to the food we buy and the holidays we take.

“That our government has accepted these recommendations and a target of net-zero emissions by 2045 shows real commitment and courage on their part and reflects the strength of public opinion right across Scotland for urgent action on climate change.

“For those who still lobby for delay under a smokescreen of economics the message is blunt: net zero is affordable and we can do it much faster than the rest of the UK too.”

Mike Robinson, from Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, welcomed the new targets: “Rapidly growing public concern about climate change is sending a strong message to all politicians that rhetoric alone isn’t enough”.