A SCOTTISH Greens conference always energises our movement. It’s a chance to meet with members and campaigners from all over Scotland, to reflect on all we’ve done and plan for the months and years ahead. It’s a place to hear from activists and discuss the bold, positive and inspiring change that our planet and people need and how we get there.

I attended my first party conference a long time ago but over the years we have kept the hunger and desire for change. It’s why I joined all those years ago. Other parties were offering more of the same broken consensus but with the Scottish Greens it was something genuinely different with a truthful analysis of what was happening to our world and to our environment.

All of the environmental chaos we are seeing now is exactly what the Green movement has been warning about for decades. I joined because I could see what was coming and I wanted to do my bit to stop it.

I badly wish we had been wrong. But the reality is that predictions written off by some as alarmist have not just been proven correct, they are now looking conservative. This weekend’s conference in Edinburgh is taking place against a particularly urgent backdrop. With global temperatures reaching record levels we are at a historic crossroads, and green change is more vital than ever.

That’s precisely why we took the historic decision to enter government. We could have done the easy thing and ducked the responsibility but we knew that wasn’t going to be enough.

We had to roll our sleeves up and be the change. We could see the catastrophic damage being done and the opportunities to address it being missed. We knew that if we really wanted to turn words into action then we had to ensure there was always a green voice in the room standing up for our climate and putting it right at the heart of decision-making.

There has been important progress since then; free bus travel for young people, an end to new incineration, a ban on the worst single-use plastics, record funding for recycling, active travel and nature. These are all things that we Scottish Green MSPs have championed and delivered. The rapid expansion of the renewables industry has also been a big economic and climate success story we have got behind.

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These are all important achievements in their own right, especially when compared to the outright climate vandalism of Downing Street. But we have to build on them, there is no room for complacency or regrets.

The years ahead will be critical. If we are to have any chance of securing a sustainable future, we need to redouble our efforts, and the Scottish Government’s forthcoming climate plan will be a key step on the journey. We have to get it right.

The Climate Change Committee’s recent progress report on Scotland made for very sobering reading. It painted a very stark picture. Yet, in some respects, it didn’t tell us anything new. In fact it acknowledged that Scottish Green priorities of expanding renewable energy, decarbonising homes and buildings, accelerating peatland restoration, and cutting emissions from aviation and road vehicles are the right ones.

In Scotland we have long prided ourselves on having some of the most ambitious climate targets.

Yet, as the committee has said, these targets are only worthwhile if there are solid plans in place to meet them.

The National: GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 28: Climate protesters march through the city centre  on October 28, 2022 in Glasgow, Scotland. The march was timed to mark the anniversary of the COP26 climate summit, held in Glasgow last year. The protesters called the COP

That means real investment, long-term vision and plans to boost public transport and active travel and get cars off our roads. It means incentives for green agriculture and farming. It means delivering a transformation to make homes warmer, cleaner and affordable.

Climate breakdown hasn’t happened overnight. It has been the failure of generations of politicians, some of whom sincerely fell for the hot air of the fossil fuel industry and some who understood the scale of the threat but carried on regardless.

Now, many of those same people and their political inheritors are trying to stand in the way of even the most basic changes. If they think that a simple can and bottle deposit scheme is too radical then they’re not serious about averting disaster.

Instead they’re trying to weaponise our climate and treat it as a new front for their culture war. They view it as a chance to score points rather than an environmental and economic necessity.

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I used to attend Scottish Greens conferences to talk about what we wanted governments to do. Now we use them to talk about how we can best ensure a government we are part of is going as far and as fast as we need it to.

The Climate Change Committee report can’t simply be another wake-up call. We’ve had far too many of them. It must be a clarion call for change, and Scottish Green MSPs and our members will be using every ounce of influence we have to ensure that it is.

As this weekend’s conference will make clear, we have driven action at the heart of government, but there is still a lot more to do if we are to make the lasting and systemic changes that will get us to a net-zero Scotland and beyond.

The clock is ticking, and we won’t accept anything less than an acceleration of real and meaningful climate action.