The warnings over the climate crisis have been stark – no-one is under any illusion about what is required.
The Scottish Government has been a champion of prioritising the climate crisis, a huge ask of a devolved government with limited power and spending levers.
MSPs have set the bar incredibly high and that should be applauded.
Scotland’s legal date by which its contribution to the climate crisis will be over, reaching net zero, is set at 2045 – five years ahead of the UK-wide target.
Holyrood also has a key interim target for 2030 that looks almost impossible to reach without dramatic intervention, and many of the key levers are out of the hands of SNP and Green ministers.
Scotland has pledged that by 2030, emissions levels of 1990 will be cut by a whopping 75%.
For context, between 1990 and 2020, Scotland’s emissions were cut by 50%.
This essentially means that the same level of progress achieved in 30 years will be needed again in this decade.
Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan has confirmed initial reports by The Herald that she will delay her next climate change plan from being published – the key blueprint for how Scotland will reach net zero.
Worryingly, eight out of the last 12 annual emissions targets have not been met – it is fair to say things are not on track.
Now, Ms McAllan has insisted that Rishi Sunak’s rollback of UK-wide net zero policies in September means more time is required to make sure Scotland’s strategy is as best as it can be.
But the chief executive of statutory advisers, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), has raised questions over whether this is true.
Chris Stark, who formerly worked as the director of energy and climate change for the Scottish Government, appears to have been left pretty unimpressed by the decision to delay the document, given the CCC had held off its monitoring of progress in Scotland to include the report, which was promised by the end of November.
There is no questioning the intent of the Scottish Government to tackle the climate crisis and meet net zero. But delivering action on the climate is becoming a problem.
The climate change plan being delayed is not the only part of the puzzle that has gone missing.
On the same day as she confirmed that the plan is being pushed back, Ms McAllan also stated that the controversial plans for highly protected marine areas are being binned after an outcry from the fishing industry – a show that business concerns can trump the need to protect the environment in the political landscape.
Waste and renewable heat targets remain way off track and the less said about the deposit return scheme the better – meanwhile, there appears to be little confidence that private funds will arrive at the scale needed to clean up how we heat our homes.
When the Scottish Government’s updated energy plan, including its official position on oil and gas developments, finally arrives next summer, it will be almost two years delayed.
Humongous actions are needed as soon as possible if Scotland’s climate ambitions are to get back on track.
When the next climate change plan does emerge, it will need to bluntly set out how warm words will be backed up with real progress.