Edinburgh Green calls for end to deal with SNP but says bolder climate action could still save agreement

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The SNP-Green power-sharing pact at Holyrood could still be saved if ministers come forward with bolder carbon-cutting policies, a leading critic of the deal has said.

The 2021 Bute House Agreement, which saw Greens join the Scottish Government for the first time, is under threat after Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan announced on Thursday that the target of reducing emissions by 75 per cent by 2030 was being scrapped.

Cllr Chas BoothCllr Chas Booth
Cllr Chas Booth

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Leith Green councillor Chas Booth claimed his party’s presence in government was being used as a “fig leaf” for “woeful and inexcusable climate inaction” and he called for an emergency general meeting of the Scottish Greens to discuss ending the pact.

On Friday evening, the Greens announced they would hold such a meeting, which is expected to take place as soon as possible, given that four weeks’ notice is required.

Councillor Booth said he would listen carefully to the arguments of the Green MSPs for continuing the Bute House Agreement, but wanted to see a “credible replacement” for the 2030 target and bolder policies to achieve maximum reduction in emissions. He sad a package of 19 policies outlined by Ms McAllan in her statement to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday did not go far enough.

He said: “A lot of them are not new - for example, integrating public transport, I agree that is absolutely essential but we have been talking about that for at least a decade; it has been held up for a variety of reasons, one of which is the bus companies can’t agree on how they would share the revenue; if the MSPs and the Scottish Government can come forward with why they feel they can clear the blockages to that policy and it can actually be implemented in pretty short order, than perhaps that might help me to have more sympathy that the Bute House Agreement should continue.”

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But he said he was not convinced the agreement was delivering the bold climate action that was needed. And he said out of 12 party members he had spoken to, only one wanted the Bute House Agreement to continue.

He said: “If the EGM was being held tomorrow I would be moving that we withdraw from it. But in the four to five weeks between now and the EGM I will listen very carefully.

“Most of our members are very reasonable and will listen to the arguments put forward by MSPs, so a lot could change between now and the EGM. If we get a credible replacement for the 2030 target and additional measures and additional action I think that might convince members to stay in.”

Cllr Booth rejected the idea that by quitting the government the Greens would be giving up any influence over policy. He said: “If you look at the most transformative policy the Scottish Greens have achieved it’s free bus travel for under-22s and we achieved that from opposition. If we withdraw from the Bute House Agreement we will be in a position to exert considerable influence as we have done in the past.”

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Scottish Greens’ co-leader Lorna Slater said the special meeting was to give members the opportunity to debate and decide how the party moved forward. She said: “We have achieved more for people and planet in the past 32 months than other parties have in decades. Now we want to hear from our members on how they want us to continue this progress.”

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