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Inside Holyrood: Green recovery is an opportunity

By Contributor

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At this month's Holyrood election thousands of people across the Highlands and Islands put their faith in the Scottish Green Party. It is an honour to have been elected to serve the region and I’ll work hard to repay the trust placed in me.

My election reflects the results my colleagues delivered in the last parliament, in particular I pay tribute to my predecessor John Finnie, but also our pledge to work towards a fair recovery from a pandemic which has devastated lives and to take meaningful steps to tackle the climate emergency.

Throughout the campaign we presented a positive vision of Scotland’s future, one that is both just and sustainable. Recovery from the pandemic will be the immediate priority of course, but the question remains as to what shape the recovery will take. The other parties in Holyrood have also begun to acknowledge the need to tackle the climate emergency, but there are sharp disagreements on how that is best achieved.

The Scottish Greens believe we must aim higher than simply returning to the way things were before the pandemic. This crisis has shown that governments are capable of swift and significant action, but why should we set that to one side once the pandemic has passed? Thousands of people across the country are in precarious employment, low pay or insecure housing, if indeed they have any housing at all. Now we have a chance to leave that inequality, that fundamental injustice, in the past.

We also believe that action on the climate and nature emergencies needn’t mean sacrifice, as supporters of the status quo might tell you. Rather, it presents an opportunity to create thousands of new sustainable jobs, make public transport better and more accessible for everyone, and guarantee a warm home for everyone. Building a society that can exist harmoniously with the environment, rather than one that actively harms it, means building a better society for all.

Action on these twin emergencies will also help set us on a path to addressing two other issues which have plagued the Highlands for too long; depopulation and mental health. Creating jobs in clean energy and environmental restoration provides rural jobs, giving young people a chance to build a life for themselves here. Providing warm affordable homes will help communities thrive. Vital land reform will transform vast swathes of the Highlands into something that meaningfully belongs to all those who call this place home.

I do not pretend that these aims will be easily achieved, but that does not make them unachievable. As your MSP I want to work both for you and with you so that together we can build a better future for the Highlands.

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