Page last updated at 07:50 GMT, Tuesday, 23 June 2009 08:50 UK

Climate change targets 'tougher'

Car exhaust
Ministers said they would aim for a 42% reduction in emissions by 2020

Stronger targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions have been included in legislation to be debated by MSPs on Wednesday.

The climate change bill had committed to a 34% emissions cut but ministers said a new target of 42% would be set.

But it will only be set at 42% if European governments agree to reduce emissions by 30% at climate talks in Copenhagen in December.

Labour said it welcomed what it called "an astonishing u-turn" by the SNP.

Climate change minister Stewart Stevenson confirmed that he had lodged an amendment to the bill that will set the interim target at 42%.

We are glad the SNP have finally seen sense and raised the target
Sarah Boyack
Labour's environment spokeswoman

He said: "The Scottish Government has already committed to meeting the target of 42% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 based on the EU responding to an international agreement being reached in Copenhagen in December.

"Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing governments across the world and will have far reaching consequences for us all.

"Targets must be based on expert advice, the Scottish Government has sought to follow that advice as the bill has progressed, and as has been recognised, our proposals are more ambitious than the UK bill."

Last week at First Minister's Questions, Labour leader Iain Gray accused First Minister Alex Salmond of "bluster and excuses" on climate change.

The party's environment spokeswoman, Sarah Boyack, said: "It is a humiliating, but welcome climbdown by Alex Salmond.

"Only last week the first minister insisted, when Iain Gray pressed him, that he did not have the power to go any further than 34%.

"We are glad the SNP have finally seen sense and raised the target."

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