Delivering green change has never been so vital - Lorna Slater

Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Lorna SlaterMinister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Lorna Slater
Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Lorna Slater
I always enjoy going to my party’s annual conference, but this year’s one, which took place this weekend, felt a bit special. In part it was because it was in Scotland’s newest city, Dunfermline, but also because so much has happened since the last gathering.

Party conferences are unique places and, regardless of which party you support, I would recommend attending at least one. There is an energy, optimism and sense of family that inspires, provokes and reinforces a commitment to keep doing more.

That ensures the debates are lively. But it is also an opportunity for discovery, learning and real engagement. There are so many different topics I’ve learnt far more about as a result of sitting through party debates.

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As you’d expect, we had a strong environmental edge with representatives from Friends of the Earth, RSPB Scotland, Solar Energy Scotland, WWF and Revive to name a few.

It was also great to see the likes of teachers from the Educational Institute for Scotland, firefighters from the Fire Brigade Union, Enable, the National Deaf Children’s Society, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and many more.

There was a lot to talk about. I was delighted to announce we will work with local authorities to empower them to put a levy on cruise ships to raise vital revenues for local services.

One of the biggest cheers of the weekend was for the announcement that we the Scottish Government will allocate £2m next year to extend free bus travel to all asylum seekers in Scotland, something I know many Edinburgh Evening News readers support.

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I was also proud to announce ambitious new targets for our solar industry, which will be of interest to the many renewables workers in our city, as well as people who simply care about the environment.

The conference pretty much marked the halfway point of this parliamentary session. It was a chance to reflect on the change we have introduced and reflect on how much more we have to do in the years ahead.

That green change can’t come soon enough. The last two weeks have seen climate chaos with Scotland’s wettest October on record and floods across our country.

Yet, when I returned home from the conference it was to the news that the UK government had just issued 27 new oil and gas licences. The contrast between the world we want and the one that Westminster is giving us couldn’t be stronger.

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We can’t continue like this. Our planet, won’t let us. I will be working with my Scottish Government colleagues and Scottish Green councillors here in Edinburgh to build on our successes and ensure that we deliver even more of the change that is so vital.

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