World leaders must take climate change seriously - Lorna Slater

One of the successes of the festive period was the new Netflix film Don't Look Up. With a star-studded cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, it tells the story of scientists who discover an asteroid headed towards earth.

Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 7:00 am
Scottish Green party co-leader Lorna Slater was speaking to the BBC's Sunday Show

In the film, the chances of it creating an apocalyptic event are greater than 99%. Even though they can foresee the disaster, the scientists are unable to convince world leaders, governments or even the media to treat the threat with the seriousness it deserves. At first they are ignored, then they are ridiculed, and then big business tries to find ways to capitalise on the crisis, but none of this makes the threat go away.

The parallels with the climate emergency we are living through are stark and obvious. We don't need Holywood to remind us that the science is clear and we only have a decade left if we are to stop irreversible climate breakdown.

A lot of world leaders talk a good game, with Boris Johnson calling it the UK's "single biggest international priority" and Joe Biden describing it as an "existential threat to human existence as we know it."

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However, when push comes to shove, they have failed to live up to their words.

Last year's COP climate conference brought thousands of politicians, activists and diplomats to Scotland. They poured into Glasgow's SSE where they promised the earth. But, despite the urgency of the situation, they failed to deliver. There were a lot of warm words and promises, but many of the key pledges were diluted at the last minute.

This year we have to do things differently. We cannot have another year of indecision and treading water. Every day of inaction and standing still is another day closer to crisis.

A green industrial revolution would not just be good for the environment, it could be transformative for jobs and our economy.

It's a reality that all governments needs to prepare for. The opportunities are vast. By making the right choices now we can rebuild from the pandemic in a way that prioritises people and the planet.

Here in Scotland we are stepping up to the challenge and delivering the greenest policy programme of any government since devolution.

We are doubling support for onshore wind and ensuring record investment in active travel, including infrastructure for walking, wheeling and cycling, while boosting recycling, public transport and marine energy.

We all have a role to play. There are steps we are taking that everyone can take part in, such as our plan to curb some of the worst single-use plastics and the world-leading deposit return scheme we are introducing. But the heaviest lifting has to be done by the worst polluters.

None of this will be easy, especially not with the current backdrop. But it is vital to securing a fairer, greener future.

The decisions we make in the months ahead will have ramifications for years to come. They will shape the future of young people and future generations. But they are not just decisions for Scotland. The steps we are taking are the sort that need to be taken by every government.

Don't Look Up may be Holywood, but the story it tells is all too real. We have the power, knowledge and technology to ensure a happy ending. 2022 must be the year when they make it happen.

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