THE Scottish Government could be late in producing its new plans to tackle climate change because of the major “eleventh-hour” U-turn on green policies announced by the Prime Minister, a minister has revealed.

Responding to an urgent question on the UK Government’s announcement it was diluting major climate targets – including postponing a ban on the sale of diesel and petrol cars until 2035 – the Scottish Net Zero Secretary told MSPs the Tories had committed an “unforgivable betrayal of future generations”.

Màiri McAllan said Scottish Government officials were working behind the scenes to establish the exact extent of the impact of Rishi Sunak’s announcement on Edinburgh’s climate targets.

But she warned a forthcoming document outlining the measures was likely to be delayed because of the Prime Minister’s intervention.

The National: Rishi Sunak

Sunak appeared to have been forced into revealing his revised climate policies after chunks of it were leaked to the BBC earlier this week and he announced the changes at a hastily-arranged Downing Street press conference on Wednesday.

McAllan said the changes were likely to have a serious impact on Scotland’s climate policy and net zero targets and claimed the Scottish Government had been given no advance notice of Sunak’s announcement.

She said: “The Prime Minister’s statement yesterday was an unforgivable betrayal of current and future generations and has again put the UK Government on the wrong side of history.”

The Scottish Government also came under fire from opposition MSPs for repeatedly missing its own climate targets.

'Absolutely no warning'

Responding to a question on when a revised “action plan” to get Scotland to meet its climate targets from LibDems MSP Liam McArthur (below), McAllan said: “It had been my intention, and my officials had been working on developing a draft of Scotland’s climate change plan to lay in the Parliament this year.

The National:

“There is no doubt that this eleventh-hour, significant policy [revision], of which we had absolutely no warning and no UK minister has thus far reached out to discuss with me, there is no doubt that that will require time to consider the implications.

“And as I already said in response to [Labour MSP] Sarah Boyack, that will have an effect on when I can lay the draft plan.”

It remains unclear how the UK Government’s delay in banning the sale of diesel and petrol cars will affect the Scottish Government and officials are said to be looking into the matter.

The Scottish Government had set a less strict target of seeking to “phase out the need” for polluting vehicles, but not an outright ban, according to a Transport Scotland source.

They said: “Our approach, outlined before the UK Government committed to a ban – to phase out the need for new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, was always about a blend of incentivisation and infrastructure, to ensure that by 2030, EV’s were the first and natural choice for a buyer – where they had confidence in the charging network and where there would be price parity with other vehicles.”

The UK Government’s new policy to ban polluting vehicles also brings the country in line with the official EU target for the same measure.

But it has sparked fury among manufacturers who had invested in projects based on the incentives and warnings issued by the UK Government on the closer date.

And climate experts have accused the Tories of abandoning their ambition to reduce the UK’s emissions.

Chris Stark, the chair of the Climate Change Committee, told BBC 4’s Today programme: “It’s difficult to escape the idea that we’ve moved backwards from where we were when we did our last assessment of progress […] in June.

“It looks like those goals will be even harder to hit with this softer package now around climate policy.”

Defending Sunak’s U-turns, Scottish Conservative net zero spokesperson Douglas Lumsden, said the UK Government was setting “realistic” targets and said the Scottish Government should be “honest” with people about “how much the journey to net zero will cost them”.