We all need to be braver and bolder to deliver for our climate - Lorna Slater

​It’s hard to believe that it has been five years since the Global Climate Strike inspired thousands of school students to take to the streets here in Edinburgh and around the world.
The global Youth Strike for Climate in 2019The global Youth Strike for Climate in 2019
The global Youth Strike for Climate in 2019

It was a truly international and generational movement, with more than a million young people across 125 countries leaving their classrooms to campaign for our climate. They marched in hope.

So consider this. A protester who was 13 then will be old enough to vote in this year’s election. But what will they be thinking?

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With record temperatures and extreme weather events becoming increasingly common, the scale of climate breakdown the school students were striking against has become even more of a reality. That’s a fact.

Despite the damage, there are glimmers of hope. I see them every day in my role as a government minister. There are great climate and nature projects in almost every part of our country, and thousands of skilled workers and campaigners driving the change. Grassroots change is vital, but the biggest and most urgent changes are systematic, and can only be made by governments.

That was why the Scottish Greens agreed to join the Scottish Government in 2021. We could see how much there was to do and that it was the best way for us to ensure there is always a green voice in the room.

It has allowed us to take many progressive steps and deliver on Scottish Green priorities, with more investment than ever in wildlife and nature, an end to licences for new incineration, warmer greener homes, and free bus travel for everyone under 22.

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But there is far more that we need to do. Yes, there is crucial work underway to boost recycling, cut waste and transform the way we heat our homes, but, if we are to mitigate the damage being done it needs to be powered by an irreversible shift away from oil and gas and towards clean, green renewable energy.

One of the biggest roadblocks has been Westminster, with the Tories putting fossil fuel profits ahead of our environment. But their obstruction and their efforts to put the country into reverse, only means that we have to be even more ambitious.

No government is doing enough. Not us. Not them. No-one. We all need to be braver and bolder if we are to deliver the transformation that is needed.

One of those Edinburgh strikers from five years ago, Dylan Hamilton, said the climate strike was the most motivated he ever felt, as people showed up in their thousands.

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We can’t let that feeling be forgotten. The science is clear, but time is not on our side.

It is vital we all use every power we have to deliver the change that is so badly needed and that those young people were calling for.

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

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