An independent Scotland would be greener, cleaner and "lead the world in tackling climate change", the country's Environment Minister has claimed.
Richard Lochhead said that enshrining protection for the environment in the written constitution of Scotland would be one of five "big green gains" that would result should this year's independence referendum return a "yes" vote.
Scotland would also become nuclear-free, ensure a fairer share of EU funding is targeted at environmental schemes, leverage its direct representation in Europe to drive the green policy agenda, and show international leadership in tackling climate change and championing climate justice.
The Scottish government has already set a target to use its abundant wind and marine resources to meet 100 per cent of its energy needs from renewable sources by the end of the decade and is also pushing faster on emissions reductions than England, Wales, or Northern Ireland, aiming for a 42 per cent cut by 2020.
Independence offers the opportunity to create a greener, cleaner, nuclear-free Scotland which is a world leader in tackling climate change and championing climate justice," he said in a speech at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. "Our vision for Scotland is to make the most of Scotland's extraordinary green energy assets to deliver a secure, sustainable energy future.
"With independence, we can seize the opportunity to place the environment at the heart of our nation by enshrining environmental protection in a written constitution. And an independent Scotland will show international leadership in tackling climate change, with a seat at the global top table enabling us to inspire and influence others to follow our ambition. [Business Green]