THE next decade will be “defining” for Scotland as it takes on the challenge of reaching net zero, the Parliament has heard.

SNP MSP Michael Matheson led the debate on the Climate Emergency in Holyrood yesterday and laid out his plans for how the country will move forward, and his key policy drives.

The newly appointed Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport said that the next decade will be “far more challenging” as Scotland desperately tries to reduce emissions and switch to renewable energies.

Speaking to the chamber, Matheson said: “We must achieve in the next 10 years what it has taken the last 30 years. This will be a decisive and defining decade for us all.

“Our climate change plan update puts Scotland on a pathway to its world leading targets over the next decade, bringing together nearly 150 policies to drive our delivery.

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“It includes a bold and credible package of measures to reduce emissions, such as our commitment to reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030, by encouraging more active travel and use of public transport.”

Part of the government’s plans are a 10-year programme to restore peatlands, with a £250 million backing which will impact climate change, biodiversity, flood management and water quality.

Matheson added that the journey to net zero will “transform every aspect of our lives”.

He said: “How we live, how we work and how we travel. I want Scotland to seize the opportunity that becoming a net zero society presents, growing our economy and enhancing our natural environment so that we can improve the health and wellbeing for all our society.

“We need to make sure our transition is a just transition, that in responding to a changing climate that the journey is fair and it creates a better future for everyone.”

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Mark Ruskell, Scottish Greens spokesperson on the climate, told the chamber that Scotland has all the resources to fight the climate emergency, but what is truly needed is “political will” and that the scale of the challenge ahead needs to be taken into account.

He said: “Looking at the climate change plan, which is our only route map to net zero in this parliament, there are major challenges in there.

“We all know for example that the 20% reduction in vehicle mileage target is attempting to reverse a trend of traffic growth that has been relentless for the best part of 70 years.

“Our over dependence on the private car is not only killing the planet, it’s ruining our health and wellbeing, it’s dominating the public space needed for economic regeneration in our towns, while excluding many people because of their age, disability or income.

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“So a target like that won’t be met without transformative change and investment. If we want our towns to move and feel like Copenhagen then we’re going to have to act now and make non-essential car use a harder choice than public transport.”

Greens co-leader Lorna Slater added that “targets are all very well, but now let us have action”.

Pointing to the 166 recommendations given during the last term of parliament, Slater said that key to moving forward is to stop the exploration of oil and gas, calling on the UK government to stop handing out licences, while focusing on a just transition for workers .

It comes as Slater was probed by Tory MSP Liam Kerr, who claimed he is “terrified” for the oil and gas industry if the Greens make a co-operation agreement with the SNP. Slater hit back and said that two-thirds of the public back a plan to wind down oil and gas.