COOPERATION between Holryood and Westminster must improve to meet Scotland’s energy needs and tackle climate change, a major report says.

In the first publication of its kind in a decade, the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) warns the country’s energy system is “entering a challenging period of transition as the policy focus shifts towards the difficult task of decarbonising heat and transport” and progress has been “hampered by a systemic lack of transparency; weak planning, monitoring and implementation; and problems with delivering cost-effectiveness and protecting consumers’ interests”.

And the paper, which follows a two-year inquiry by a 10-strong expert panel, emphasises that Holyrood cannot achieve its full aims unless Westminster agrees, stating: “Sustained political cooperation between Holyrood and Westminster could maximise the effectiveness of the governance structure and to achieve common objectives.

“The UK Government retains control of the main levers for energy governance, and so key aspects of the Scottish Government’s strategy can only be realised in full with UK Government agreement.”

The publication comes in the wake of calls by Westminster’s cross-party Scottish Affairs Committee for an urgent review of intergovernmental structures and relationships to improve working between London and devolved parliaments.

This includes potentially scrapping the Scotland Office and axing David Mundell’s job.

In its report, the RSE calls for the establishment of an independent expert advisory commission on energy policy and governance for Scotland.

And it says lowering demand for energy “should be a priority” to help meet climate protection targets.

It also recommends that decisions on investments by both the Scottish and UK Governments must be made “in a timely manner” and consideration given to research and development funding.

The paper also covers the potential of emergent technologies, saying carbon capture and storage (CCS) coupled with hydrogen production as a heat source could limit damage to the climate, but would require a high level of investment.

Meanwhile, a rapid move towards transport and heat electrification may require “more than doubling” the current electricity generating capacity and creation of “substantial” new infrastructure.

And while wind energy can play a “significant role in meeting increased demand and reducing emissions, its variable nature means another form of generation, or significant investments in energy storage, would likely be required in tandem”.

Professor Becky Lunn, deputy inquiry chair, said: “Our politicians have to make some very difficult decisions, but they must make these in an informed way and without delay. It’s also vital that they are honest with the public about what is achievable, what choices must be made, and what changes will need to take place.

“Scotland needs energy and decisions must be made on how we are going to source this. There are options available, but these must be viewed in the round by looking at Scotland’s energy needs, and sensibly balancing out the pros and cons of each. Dismissing technologies or potential solutions simply because they do not fulfil every possible criterion is likely to lead to Scotland increasing the amount of energy it imports, which should not be done without due consideration of the risks.

“It may seem like a formidable task, but the global energy challenges we currently face present an opportunity for Scotland to invest in the country’s wellbeing, position itself as a global innovator and make positive lasting changes.”