THIS week a new report by climate scientists at the World Meteorological Organisation has revealed that a key global temperature limit will be reached in one of the next five years, which is the 1.5 degrees level of global warming identified in the Paris Agreement.

That means we are already running out of time for urgent action to tackle emissions and secure our survival.

That five-year timescale is also the length of the parliamentary session we have been elected into. There is no doubt that the decisions we make in the Scottish Parliament over the coming years will shape the future of the whole of Scotland. On our society and our place in the world.

I’m aware that becoming Central Scotland’s first-ever Green MSP comes with a level of responsibility and expectation, but it comes at a time when the stakes for the country couldn’t be higher. Collectively, it is parliament’s responsibility to get it right, to come together and take action to secure a fair and green recovery for Scotland.

That’s why the Scottish Greens are going into talks with the SNP over ways we can co-operate for the good of the country.

But we can’t look at the climate emergency in isolation. We are, after all, still in a public health emergency too, and as the Scottish Greens spokesperson for health and care I’m acutely aware that the decisions we make in building a recovery will have a lasting legacy too.

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This week we saw Shakespearean scenes at Westminster where Dominic Cummings exacted his revenge on his former employers. His accusations about the UK locking down too late, PPE shortages and that public health messaging had too often been distributed through Downing Street leaks were accurate. Of course, many of those decisions were probably his, so his hindsight is better than his foresight.

The politics of revenge serves no-one. These decisions likely cost tens of thousands of lives, and those who lost a loved one during these past 15 months or worked on the frontline of the pandemic response will have found the Cummings political theatre in poor taste.

That’s because politics shouldn’t be about securing the scalps of politicians, it should be about good governance. During a global pandemic that matters more than ever. Global science was clear – the World Health Organisation told us to test, test, test from the start and that advice should have been taken. The people doing the hard work on the frontline must be valued. And public health messaging must be very clear during a public health emergency, not leaked to journalists to test responses first.

Our recovery and approach to the next five years must take this approach.

Clearly, any innovation and redesign of services must follow the best scientific evidence and while Scotland is brilliant at capturing health data, we need to get better at turning that data into intelligence.

Our health and social care workers across the country have worked so hard over the last year, and many now face a backlog of treatments and appointments that were put off while risks were high. Staff will be exhausted. Clearly part of this agenda is about fair pay, but we also need to radically improve working conditions. We need to change the culture of burnout in the NHS and give staff access to proper mental health support and counselling as well as ensuring a work-life balance and progression opportunities that allow them to thrive.

And those who work in social care – mostly women – have been undervalued for far too long. I cannot wait to get involved in the development of a National Care Service, an idea that enjoys cross-party support. A National Care Service is needed because caring is a national priority. It is a public need, and so must be a public service. The integration of health and social care was a big reform, but in practice it has been a challenge as services compete for funds, so a National Care Service must better link national standards with local accountability.

We need to learn from the last year when it comes to public health messaging too. The public must be kept informed if they are going to make the healthiest decisions, and those decisions need to be the easiest ones to make. The more barriers there are to a healthy diet, access to green space, active travel options and other healthy choices, the less likely people are to choose them.

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We can apply these same principles when it comes to the climate emergency too. We need to be clear and honest with the public that things need to change and make the low-carbon options the easiest choice.

The green recovery is also about creating quality jobs. The Scottish Green manifesto showed how investing in warm homes, public transport, renewable energy and restoring nature can create more 100,000 jobs on the frontline of the emergency response – plumbers, builders, railway workers, engineers, park rangers.

And of course, just like in the pandemic, we need to be listening to the advice of the scientific experts. Experts like those at the World Meteorological Organisation, who tell us we need to act now. It requires a different kind of politics.