PATRICK Harvie has mounted a vigorous defence of the Scottish Government’s environmental policies amid criticism after a flagship climate target was dropped.

The Scottish Greens co-leader said he was “angry and disappointed that we are in this position” after SNP Energy Secretary Mairi McAllan confirmed the Government was scrapping its target of cutting carbon emissions by 75% by 2030.

But he said this “must be a turning point” in the battle against the climate crisis.

Harvie said “We cannot undo decades of inaction and bad decision making, but what we can do is ensure that Scotland goes further and faster in delivering the rapid and fundamental change that is so vital.”.

He has hailed a new raft of policies the Scottish Government say will bring down Scotland’s emissions – as McAllan (below) reaffirmed the administration’s commitment to reaching net zero by 2040.

The National: Mairi McAllan

And he said that climate targets were “not enough, especially if there aren’t credible and robust plans in place to deliver them”.

Harvie added: “We have a responsibility not just to advocate for accelerated action, but to make it happen. Today's announcement is a big step towards delivering that.”

He said plans to reduce car journeys by 20% and to decarbonise agriculture – through a series of measures including carbon audits on farms and a pilot of new animal feed which supresses methane – were “big changes that will make a difference”.

But he will need to convince rank and file members of the Scottish Greens who are reportedly unhappy with targets being ditched.

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The Herald reported he will face an meeting of party members on Thursday night, with one insider telling the paper: “The climate announcements today seem wholly inadequate to the challenge ahead of us and many of them will be managed by SNP ministers.”

The National: Patrick Harvie

Harvie (above) added: “In the short time since the Scottish Greens entered government for the first time we have hugely upscaled climate action, from introducing free bus travel for young people to growing our renewables industry and delivering record funding for wildlife and nature.

“These are important changes and we must build on them.

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“We must see urgent and accelerated climate action across all areas and levels of government, and those parties who vote for targets but then block the action needed to reach them will have no credibility.

“I have no doubt that if successive Scottish and UK governments had taken the actions needed at the time, as Greens consistently urged, we would be on track for that 2030 target. The fact that we aren’t is exactly why we need to focus on delivering real change and ramp up climate action.”