Scottish Greens accuse SNP of ‘dramatic U-turn’ over climate change

The Scottish Greens have accused the SNP of making a “dramatic U-turn” by declaring a climate emergency just weeks after a debate on the subject in the Scottish Parliament.

Maggie Chapman is the Greens' first candidate for next month's European elections

Nicola Sturgeon told delegates at the Nationalists’ spring conference on Sunday that she was inspired to make a declaration on global warming after meeting young campaigners who had led a schools’ strike.

Labour is expected to demand the UK Government to declare a national climate emergency later this week.

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But Greens MSP Mark Ruskell said the SNP failed to back his original motion which would have made a similar declaration four weeks ago.

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SNP MSPs voted for an amendment made by Nationalist MSP Roseanna Cunningham, which was defeated by one vote.

“Following the First Minister’s declaration at her party conference on Sunday, I had hoped that we may be seeing a welcome change of direction rather than just another press release,” Mr Ruskell said.

“Yet, only a few hours later the Cabinet Secretary for Government Business Mike Russell appeared on the BBC Scotland Debate Night programme and made the case for extracting evermore oil and gas.

“Actions speak louder than words, cutting aviation tax and lobbying for huge tax breaks for oil and gas exploration is not the climate leadership the world needs.

“Declaring a climate emergency is about more than posing for pictures with climate strikers, it’s about ditching policies that are destroying the planet.”

The Greens made the intervention ahead of the launch of their campaign today for next month’s European elections, where the party hopes to return its first MEP.

The party made a direct call to stop Brexit as well demanding massive public investment to tackle the climate crisis.

Maggie Chapman is first on the Greens’ list of candidates in Scotland and called on voters to choose “hope over hate”.

Holyrood environment committee member Angus MacDonald MSP said: “In her speech to SNP conference, the First Minister declared a climate emergency.

“The announcement has been widely welcomed, but it’s disappointing to hear such churlish griping from the Greens.

“Scotland is already a world leader in tackling climate change, and our new legislation commits us to being carbon neutral by 2050 by adopting some of the toughest targets in the world.”