Last week I was delighted and very proud to announce an effective ban on permission for new incinerators in Scotland.
It represents a big step forward in terms of protecting our environment, and follows an independent review of incineration that I commissioned upon taking up my role as Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity.
The ban will be supported by a declining cap on the amount of waste that can be incinerated. It is a cap that I will set, and one that will help us to meet our climate targets and support our plans to reduce waste and boost our circular economy.
It’s a sign of the positive impact that we are having and delivers on a key pledge in the Scottish Greens manifesto and the Cooperation Agreement that we negotiated with the Scottish Government.
With Greens in government we are working constructively and getting results. We are not just talking about change, we are delivering it.
In the last nine months alone we have introduced free bus travel for everyone under 22, opening up Scotland for young people and their families, banned the worst single-use plastics and secured record funding for wildlife, nature, recycling and green travel.
These are all critical changes that are good for people and the planet. They show the difference we are making and set vital precedents for other governments to follow across the UK and beyond.
But, if we are to do our bit to avert the climate catastrophe then we need to go further. And we can’t reach the heights of our ambitions unless we have the power to do so. That is one reason why I support Scottish independence, which would give us the best possible platform to build an economy that works for people and the planet.
The possibilities are huge. Scotland has 25% of Europe’s total offshore renewable energy potential. Yet, as things stand, we don’t have the power to upgrade our own electricity grid, or the freedom to invest the public money that is needed into the infrastructure and industries of the future.
Last week my Green colleague Patrick Harvie joined the First Minister at Bute House to mark the publication of the first in a series of papers that will lay out the Scottish Government’s plans for an independence referendum and its vision for a modern, democratic and European nation and the better and more sustainable future that is within our reach.
Edinburgh is a big and diverse city, and I know that there will be people reading this who do not support independence, or who are undecided and yet to be convinced of the case. There is nothing wrong with that.
My team and I don’t want to talk at you, instead we want to hear from you. We want to know your concerns and to sincerely discuss them with you. I know that it will be a big choice, and I want us to reassure you and earn your trust.
In the meantime, we will continue to work for Scotland and deliver the green change and climate action that we so badly need. Whether it is investing in walking, wheeling and cycling infrastructure, banning single-use plastics or curbing incineration, we will always do everything we can to build a fairer, greener future.