Climate change: SNP-Green government deal brings hope but also fear – Scotsman comment

Given climate change is the most pressing issue facing Scotland and the world, the proposed co-operation agreement between the SNP and Scottish Greens brings a degree of hope.

However, it also comes with an element of fear.

Our hope is that putting Green politicians at the heart of government means that Scotland will do better on this most important matter.

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The latest figures show that Scotland missed its carbon-emission reduction target in 2019, for the third year in a row.

The SNP-Green deal, still to be approved by Green members, contains much talk of future targets, but there is a real need for greater focus on achieving the existing ones. The two new Green ministers must work to provide this.

Turning the economy from one powered by fossil fuels to one driven by renewable electricity is a huge and important task, and not just for the sake of the climate. Our economy will be damaged if it clings too long to technology that is rapidly becoming out-dated and fails to embrace the ‘green cool of modern technology’, to paraphrase Harold Wilson.

This should be done sooner rather than later, but requires careful, pragmatic handling.

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SNP-Green deal: Two Green MSPs to become government ministers under agreement to...
Nicola Sturgeon with Scottish Green party co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater at Bute House, Edinburgh, after they agreed a co-operation deal (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/PA Wire)

Our fear stems from those within the Green party who are on the fringes of political thought and believe the only way to defeat climate change is to radically change our economic system, who oppose economic growth and the capitalist system.

Another potential concern is the intertwining of hard-left and nationalist politics with tackling climate change. As seen with the wearing of face masks to protect against Covid, the politicisation of policies justified by strong scientific evidence risks turning them into a political football.

Both the SNP and Greens need to be alive to this risk, particularly as the transition to net-zero emissions starts to have a greater impact on people’s everyday lives.

One way to stop such politicisation would be to reach out to Conservatives who understand the need for radical change, so-called ‘Green Blues’.

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And if Nicola Sturgeon could find a way to share a platform with Boris Johnson to send a joint message to the Cop26 climate summit, that would be an example to the world that political divisions are as nothing compared to the most serious challenge humanity has ever faced: stopping climate change from becoming ‘dangerous’.

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