THE Scottish Government has abandoned a plan to cut a tax on airline passengers. The move comes as part of a bid to tackle climate change, after Nicola Sturgeon declared a climate emergency last week.

The policy change was confirmed ahead of a Holyrood debate tomorrow, when Labour intended to force a vote on whether air passenger duty should be reduced.

The Scottish Government said it will review a range of policies to assess their impact on carbon emissions.

READ MORE: Scottish Government will reconsider plans to cut airline tax

As an initial step, it will commit to not proceeding with proposed reductions to air departure tax. It will also increase the share of capital expenditure on low-carbon projects year-on-year, further empowering councils to tackle emissions through a workplace parking levy and the introduction of low emission zones.

It says agrees that cutting and then abolishing air departure tax "is not now compatible with the more ambitious targets that Scotland wishes to pursue".

However, it says that, with aviation emissions counting for a relatively small amount of Scotland’s overall carbon emissions, MSPs must also accept that further actions are required.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham will make a further statement to Parliament next week setting out the challenges of meeting the new targets.

Cunningham, below, said: “Following the First Minister’s declaration of a climate emergency last week, and the recommendations from the UK Committee on Climate Change, we have moved quickly to increase Scotland’s emissions reduction targets – which will now be the most stringent in the world. We are reviewing a range of policies across government to ensure that we can meet those targets.

The National:

“Scotland has already shown global leadership by including a fair share of international aviation and shipping emissions in its statutory climate targets, and the fact is that aviation emissions contribute a relatively limited amount to Scotland’s overall carbon emissions - so while we are making this commitment as the first step to meeting the climate emergency, no one should be pretending that this is job done.

“Politicians across parliament and across the UK need to rise to the occasion. If we are all in agreement that the planet is facing a climate emergency, then we all need to do what is in the national – and indeed international – interest, and not just what suits party political purposes.”

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said: “All parts of government and society have a contribution to make to meeting this challenge and reducing air departure Tax is no longer compatible with more ambitious climate targets.

“We continue to support our tourism industry, which is going from strength to strength, and we will work with the sector to develop in a sustainable way. We welcome their efforts – and those of the aviation industry - to reduce carbon emissions.

“The fact is that the Scottish Parliament has never been able to use powers over aviation tax, given that the UK Government failed to devolve them in a fit state.

“Air connectivity is critical for the Highlands and Islands, and our position on the existing exemption is unchanged – it must remain in place to protect remote and rural communities. We will continue to work with the UK Government to fix the devolution of Air Departure Tax to ensure that future parliaments can decide on the best policy for Scotland’s interests in line with our climate ambitions.

Labour have consistently played politics with the proposed Workplace Parking Levy, teaming up with the Tories to spread no end of scare stories and misinformation in a transparent attempt to try and gain votes – but if they are serious about taking action to tackle climate change they will step up tomorrow, drop their opposition and back wider action to reduce emissions.”

The government’s proposed amended motion for tomorrow’s debate says: That the Parliament calls on the Scottish Government to review its policies and commitments in response to the global climate emergency and the Committee on Climate Change Report; believes that the Scottish Government should maintain its commitment to increasing the share of capital expenditure spent on low-carbon projects year on year; agrees that local authorities must be more empowered to tackle climate change and pursue policies and investments that are designed to encourage modal shift, such as the workplace parking levy and low emission zones, and further agrees that cutting and then abolishing Air Departure Tax is not now compatible with the more ambitious targets that Scotland wishes to pursue.