NICOLA Sturgeon has launched a £6 million fund to help organisations in Scotland lower their carbon emissions.

Smaller firms, charities and academic institutions can apply for grants from the new Low Carbon Challenge Fund to support projects aimed at tackling the climate crisis and cutting emissions.

Launching the scheme at Glasgow's Star Refrigeration, the largest industrial refrigeration company in the UK, the First Minister said funding for low-carbon projects "is stimulating innovation and opening up new opportunities for our businesses".

She added: "The launch of the Low Carbon Challenge Fund is another step towards our target of ending Scotland's contribution to global climate change by 2045.

"Being at the forefront of the global transition to a low-carbon economy is not just good for the environment - it is stimulating innovation and opening up new opportunities for our businesses.

"This fund will back projects that help small and medium size companies across Scotland expand their expertise, develop products and build partnerships to enable them to exploit these new emerging markets."

The scheme is backed by money from the European Union, but Ms Sturgeon has warned the UK Government has failed to outline a post-Brexit replacement for the funding.

"The Low Carbon Challenge Fund is supported by the European Regional Development Fund and is yet another example of how Scotland benefits from membership of the European Union," she said.

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"We are still waiting to hear how the UK Government proposes to replace this funding after it drags Scotland out of the EU against our will in 16 days' time."

The deadline to apply for the fund is February 21, with the grants for eligible projects administered by Scottish Enterprise.

Scottish Enterprise chief executive Steve Dunlop said the financial support will be given to organisations developing "new low-carbon solutions to harness opportunities and move from a climate emergency to a climate opportunity".

He added: "Scottish Enterprise is working with partners to meet Scotland's net-zero target and ultimately provide the right environment for businesses to focus on more sustainable ways of working, and the Low Carbon Challenge Fund is part of that.

"We will create initiatives across Scotland so we can really build momentum with our partners in the public sector, universities and the third sector and unlock opportunities around the climate emergency.

"All eyes will be on Scotland as Glasgow hosts COP26 later this year and the timing of our low-carbon fund is right as we work to create a greener, more inclusive economy, and I can't wait to see what projects will be created."