The Scottish government has raised its carbon reduction target to 90 per cent of 1990 levels by the middle of this century.

The Climate Change Bill, which was introduced into the Scottish parliament yesterday (24 May), proposes that the emissions goal should be increased from the current statutory figure of 80 per cent, which is in line with the UK government’s own target.

The draft bill also sets out an ambition by the Scottish government to achieve a 100 per cent reduction in emissions “as soon as possible”.

The legislation proposes that a date for the so called “net-zero” target should become legally-binding, subject to the consent of the Scottish parliament, when there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate it can be achieved.

Ministers will be legally required to keep the net-zero target date under review by seeking expert advice on the issue every five years. The legislation set out annual carbon reduction targets for every year between now and 2050.

Roseanna Cunningham, the Scottish government’s climate change secretary, said: “By 2030, we will cut emissions by two-thirds and, unlike other nations, we will not use carbon offsetting, where other countries are paid to cut emissions for us, to achieve our goal.

“The fight against climate change is a moral responsibility but Scotland’s academic and engineering expertise, coupled with our outstanding of natural resources, mean it is also an economic opportunity.”

The new target was criticised by the Green Party’s Scottish leader Patrick Harvie because it represented a slowdown on the rate of emissions cuts achieved over the past 10 years.

However, responding to Harvie in the Scottish parliament yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon said the targets are “the most ambitious statutory target for reducing carbon emissions anywhere in the world”.

The Scottish first minister also said Scotland is proposing that its target is met by domestic measures alone and include aviation and shipping.

Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “Countries around the world are looking to increase their climate change targets to deliver the ambition of the Paris Agreement, so it is right that Scotland does so too.

“Renewable energy will play a crucial part in this and the recent falls in cost for offshore and onshore wind in Scotland and the UK show what is possible with the right long-term policies.

“While this bill continues to show Scotland’s ambition, we would urge ministers and parliament to set a date for delivering net zero emissions and to remain a world leader in the fight against climate change.”