How a Green coalition can put Scotland first - Lorna Slater

Today is the start of a new era in Scottish politics. This afternoon my colleague Patrick Harvie and I will be the first Green politicians to take ministerial office anywhere in the UK.

Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 10:26 am
Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater visits Edinburgh University Solar farm

It follows a long summer of discussions and negotiations, but the agreement we have reached is one that we are both very proud of and very glad that our members chose to endorse over the weekend.

It is an unprecedented move for my party, but also for the Scottish government. It has taken a leap of faith from all involved, but it sets a positive precedent of how distinct and different parties can work together in Scotland’s interest.

The plan that we agreed is a bold, positive and ambitious one that will prioritise people and the planet and ensure a fairer, greener recovery. We don’t have time to wait. The UN climate change panel has said that we are at ‘code red for humanity’ and we need to act now.

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That is what we will do. As a result of this agreement, we will see record investment in our environment, including major boosts for onshore wind and marine renewables. It will accelerate steps towards the green transition that Scotland needs.

Transport is Scotland’s biggest source of greenhouse gasses. That is why we will promote public transport, with £5 billion to improve and decarbonise our railways, and £320 million a year for cycling and walking infrastructure.

As a Lothian MSP I’m particularly excited about the impact this agreement will have on Edinburgh’s broken housing market. Two weeks ago, I used this column to call for better rights for tenants, and this agreement delivers exactly that. We will introduce better protections from eviction and rent controls, helping thousands of young people and families with stretched incomes.

Homes won’t just be more affordable to rent, they will also be greener, with a fund of at least £1.8 billion to make homes and other buildings warmer and more energy efficient.

For our LGBTQ+ community it will see a ban on “conversion therapy” as well as the fast-tracking of much-needed equality legislation, including a commitment to reform the Gender Recognition Act. Even more importantly we will reduce waiting times for trans healthcare and take them down to national waiting times standards.

There are plenty of other policies that could make a huge difference for people and families across the country, from recruiting 5000 new teachers to doubling Scottish Child Payment. We will ensure that we live our values by making public funding of businesses conditional on them paying the living wage and recognising trade unions.

These are the changes that my colleagues and I are in politics to make. We would not have spent the summer working on them if we didn’t think that they would have a positive impact for people in Edinburgh and beyond.

In short, today's agreement will make our city, and our country, fairer, greener and more accessible. I have no doubt that there will be big challenges over the years ahead, but I am confident that we can meet them.