Climate crisis not a future problem it is here now - Lorna Slater

It should not be this hot. The Met Office has issued its first ever red alert heat warning, with concerns that parts of England will even see temperatures passing 40C.

Lorna Slater is a Lothian Green MSP and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity
Lorna Slater is a Lothian Green MSP and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity

These are record temperatures for anywhere in the UK. Scotland has not been quite as hot, but, even here, the temperatures we've been experiencing are far from normal.

It is yet another sign that the impact of the climate emergency is happening here and now.

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Climate change doesn’t just mean hotter days in Scotland, it means increased extreme weather events all around the world. For billions of people, it will mean broken supply lines and crop failures and a future with increased heat waves, wildfires, droughts, floods and severe storms.

It is a global crisis that needs a global response. But that does not diminish the need for individual governments to take the climate action that is so badly needed.

Here in Scotland we are taking the lead. With Greens in government we have delivered record funding for recycling, renewables and active travel, as well as introducing free bus travel for young people and £1.8 billion for energy-efficient homes and buildings.

The transition to a zero carbon economy needs to be a fair and just one that works for people and the planet. It must be one where all of our communities can see and feel the benefits and which protects the wellbeing of the least well-off in society.

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There is a big role for business to play too. In my role as Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, I am working with businesses from all over the country to reduce waste and help them make real and fundamental changes to the way they operate.

This is what we are doing here in Scotland, and there is far more to come. It is the sort of ambition and delivery that we need to see from all governments across the UK and beyond.

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That is one reason why the ongoing Tory leadership campaign has been so dispiriting to watch. All of the candidates are committed to further oil and gas exploration in the North Sea and none of them have had anything meaningful to say about how they will build and invest in the alternative green industries of the future.

One of the candidates, Kemi Badenoch, has gone as far as describing the net zero climate target as “unilateral economic disarmament” and calling for it to be removed. Are these really the people we want to be leading our response?

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All of them look increasingly out of step with our European neighbours. All over the EU, governments are finally starting to talk seriously about the climate emergency and commit to the kind of resources and renewable energy expansion that is so urgently needed. With a quarter of Europe’s total offshore renewable potential, Scotland can and must play a pivotal role in driving that change.

We are at a turning point. You can literally feel it in the temperature around us. We cannot let this be our future.

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History books will be written about this era and the things that we did or didn’t do to avert a crisis we all knew was happening. Let them tell the story of how we were able to rise to the challenge and build a fairer, greener future. It would be a much better story than one where we could see the 40C temperatures happening around us but we looked the other way and carried on drilling.

Lorna Slater is a Lothian Green MSP and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity