by Alex Docherty
Last year the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a report saying we had just 12 years to prevent a climate catastrophe – that now gives us just 11. Despite the severity of our current situation, in the led up to December’s UK General Election the climate crisis is still very much being over shadowed by Brexit.
One political party that has always taken climate change very seriously is the Scottish Green Party, at the last Scottish Parliament election the Scottish Greens received more votes than ever before. They also agreed to confidence and supply deal with the SNP after the 2016 election – it was at this election that Ross Greer was elected as Scotland’s youngest ever MSP. Greer says: “Unless we elect a parliament thats committed to actually taking the action necessary or we elect a parliament that has that impetus forced on them by the public, then it’s simply not going to happen. If we end up with a parliament similar to the one we’ve got right now then I’m not at all optimistic about our chances tackling the climate crisis.”
In the time since IPCC report was realised we have seen the action on climate change – or at least the action by activists taking a step up. With the international rises in of the School Strikes that started by Greta Thunberg.
We have also seen Extinction Rebellion shutting down busy roads across the UK, and the world. Greer says: “Its what happens after the election as well. and thats why the climate strikes need to continue, thats why the climate movement needs to get bigger needs to get bolder needs to get more demanding. And its why I really welcome the fact that groups like Extinction Rebellion call for stuff thats impossible. Extinction Rebellion want a net zero target of 2025, thats not possible. But as long as they’re calling for the impossible, our calling for the really really difficult but still possible stuff suddenly looks more reasonable.”
The UK Government’s current policy is to have net zero emissions by 2050. The SNP Scottish Government wants to have net zero emissions by 2045, and 90% reduction by 2040. However the Scottish Greens believe that the net zero target should be the target for 2030. This was a key point of contention when it came to debating the Climate Change (Emissions Reductions Targets) (Scotland) Bill in September.
The Scottish Greens managed to get an amendment to have a Citizens Assembly added to the bill – this was one of the key things that Extinction Rebellion wanted. Greer says: “There was always this chat that we should create an NGO, we should create a group called the envirobastards, who are just the most unreasonable utterly unwilling to compromise group of climate campaigners – cause suddenly it will make like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth look really really reasonable and the government will be desperate to work with them, because they won’t want to work with the envirobastards. Extinction Rebellion are kind of filling that gap – they are the envirobastards and thats great!”
Although their has been a lot of criticism of Extinction Rebellion – It is highly likely that the amount of direct action on climate change that we will be seeing on our streets is only going to continue to increase during 2020, and in particularly in Glasgow ahead of the United Nation’s COP26 Climate Change Summit Greer says: “There are some really key decisions being made soon and one of the biggest will be November next year the UK is hosting the COP26 Climate conference so that is the assembly of every country on the planet, I think the Syrian regime might have even come to some of them. On the whole everybody but the Syrian Regime goes, even the North Koreans signed up to the Paris COP Agreement in 2015. Only Syria and Nicaragua didn’t, Nicaragua just wanted something stronger, thats fine – America has now withdrawn. But basically just the Syrian regime are isolated. We will have everyone on earth who is capable of tackling the climate crisis at a governmental level in the one place and that place will be Glasgow.”