After a very smooth ride on the Eurostar, I spent last week in Brussels where I met with EU and government representatives to talk about the work we are doing to cut carbon emissions and build a sustainable future.
It was an inspiring visit and a really good opportunity to share the progress we have made in Scotland and hear from other ministers who are facing the same challenges and trying to decarbonise their economies.
The climate crisis is an international crisis, and we can’t tackle it alone. It is vital that we work with other governments. That cooperation is even more essential now that we have been taken out of the European Union.
The need for international action does not negate our responsibility to do everything we can here in Scotland.
That is why, last Wednesday, I was proud to introduce a ban on many of the worst single-use plastics, including plastic plates, cutlery, and polystyrene cups. Every year, 700 million pieces of single-use plastic are wasted in Scotland. These plastics litter our streets, parks and oceans and harm our wildlife and marine life.
Scotland is the first part of the UK to introduce such a ban. It is an important step and an example of how we are turning promises into actions and delivering for Scotland.
We will build on it next August with the introduction of the Deposit Return Scheme. This will allow us to recycle hundreds of millions of cans and bottles every year. Again, Scotland will be the first part of the UK to introduce a scheme like this. It will be one of the most ambitious of its kind and will set an important precedent for other governments to follow.
These are important steps. Around three quarters of Scotland’s carbon footprint comes from the products and services we manufacture, use and throw away. This isn’t sustainable.
Last week also saw the launch of the public consultation to support the Circular Economy Bill. That is a Bill that I am going to be taking through Parliament in a bid to reduce waste and ensure that we build things to last.
As part of the Bill, we are aiming to ban the destruction of unsold goods and ensure they make it into the hands of those that need them. Please take the time to contribute to the consultation and help to ensure that our proposals are as effective as possible.
These changes are not just good for our climate, they are good for all of us. We all benefit from there being less pollution, and we all benefit from cleaner rivers and streets. When we take climate action we are safeguarding our future and building fairer, greener and better communities here and now.
There will be no second chances. This is a message that needs to be heard in Downing Street, which has just granted final regulatory approval for the Jackdaw gas field. This is a reckless and dangerous decision that will damage our environment and drive a wrecking ball through the UK’s climate obligations.
We are living in a global emergency and the scale and ambition of the changes we make has to match the urgency of the crisis we are facing.
With Greens in government that is exactly what we are doing. We are taking vital steps here in Scotland, while learning from and coordinating with our friends and allies in Europe and beyond.