The Scottish Government has missed its climate-change targets for the fourth year in a row, even though there has been a fall in greenhouse gas emissions.
Environmental campaigners called for action after figures show an estimated 53 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) was produced in 2013.
When that total is adjusted to take into account trading in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), that falls to 49.725 MtCO2e.
But it is still above the target set by Scotland’s climate-change laws of 47.976 MtCO2e for that year.
Environment minister Aileen McLeod is due to make a statement to Holyrood this afternoon on the failure to meet the target – but stressed Scotland was on course to meet the target of cutting emissions by 42% by 2020.
However, Scottish Green Party co-convener Patrick Harvie said the Government had “failed spectacularly” to meet its “much-heralded climate-change targets”.
Tom Ballantine, chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, said the latest figures were “disappointing” and called on ministers to introduce “significant new policies” to help reduce emissions.
Between 1990 and 2013, Scotland has achieved a 34.3% reduction in estimated emissions, according to the unadjusted figures, though this increased to 38.4% when the figures were adjusted.
Carbon dioxide is by far the largest contributor to Scottish greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 74.4% of all emissions in 2013.
The production of energy accounted for almost a third (30.2%) of greenhouse gas emissions in 2013, with the transport sector, including international flights and shipping, responsible for 24.4%.
Mr Ballantine said: “The transport sector has had a free ride so far and the Scottish Government must get serious about tackling emissions from cars and planes.”
He added: “We already have good policies for insulating people’s homes but they must go much further if we’re to tackle fuel poverty, create jobs and build a better Scotland.
“While acknowledging changes to how we measure greenhouse gas emissions has on this occasion made the targets harder to meet, this shouldn’t distract from future efforts to develop a low carbon economy, and the Scottish Government is still a long way away from having exhausted all of their policy options.”
Mr Harvie said: “The Scottish Government has had since 2009 to put in place policies to live up to our much-heralded climate change targets and they have failed spectacularly.
“Since the Act was passed we have put nearly ten million tonnes more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the targets allow – demonstrating a staggering lack of ambition by this government.
“Scotland has a clear opportunity to be a greener and fairer country, and there is a wide range of voices growing hoarse calling for a speedier transition to the low-carbon economy we know we can enjoy.”
The environment minister said: “Scotland is well on track to meet our ambitious emissions targets, with these latest figures for 2013 showing we are more than three-quarters of the way there with seven years still to go.
“Our emissions have fallen by 38.4% from the 1990 baseline, outperforming the original 31.7% reduction that was required to meet the 2013 annual fixed target.
“Today’s figures show that if it had not been for successive increases to the baseline since the targets were established, Scotland would have met, and exceeded, our target for this year – and the three previous years too.”
Ms McLeod continued: “Of course, if our targets were easy to achieve they would not be ambitious enough.
“These are the level the international community needs to meet if the international climate treaty to be agreed in Paris later this year is to stand a good chance of limiting global warming to less than two degrees Celsius.
“As negotiations continue this week to agree the text of that treaty, the Scottish Government stands firm in our commitment to tackling climate change.”