Lorna Slater speaking at Scottish Greens Conference

Members of the Scottish Green Party are meeting in Dundee this weekend for their autumn conference. This morning, attendees heard a series of keynote speeches from the party’s MSPs. Among those speaking was Lorna Slater, the Greens’ co-leader and Scottish Government minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity.

In a wide-ranging speech, Slater laid out what she sees as some of the key achievements the Greens have made since entering government a year ago, as well as the achievements of Green Councillors since May’s local elections. She also used the speech to lay into the Westminster government’s record on the climate crisis, branding the Tories ‘climate criminals’.

Slater told the conference, “while we use the powers available to us to deliver on our climate commitments, the Tory Government in Westminster are using theirs to deliver for their friends in the fossil fuel industry. In just the last few weeks they have opened up our seas to more oil and gas production, brought fracking back to England, threatened to ban solar farms, and refused to put a windfall tax on the obscene profits of the fossil fuel giants. These are the actions of climate criminals. And We must oppose the Tories every step of the way.”

Slater went on to accuse the UK government of ‘climate denial’ over its move to ramp up fossil fuel extraction. She said, “We have to leave fossil fuels in the ground. Fossil fuels in Scotland and the North Sea are no exception. That’s why the Scottish Government opposed Cambo. That’s why we will fight the UK Government’s reckless pursuit to extract every last drop of oil and gas. And that’s why Scotland stands against fracking.

“Conference, it’s our responsibility as Greens to ensure the just transition is a real transition. An urgent transition away from climate-destroying fossil fuels. Right now, fossil fuel companies and the right are trying to stop this. They say Putin’s war is a reason to dump our climate commitments and bring back coal and fracking. Right now, the UK Government is considering opening a major new coal mine in Cumbria. They have even issued a coal licence in South Scotland. Make no mistake, this is Westminster climate denial. It would be the final nail in the coffin for the UK’s international reputation. It must be stopped.”

Adding yet more contrast between the Westminster and Scottish governments, Slater made a significant announcement at this point in her speech. She confirmed that the Scottish Government would be adopting a position of no support for coal extraction in Scotland. She said, “We in Scotland are willing to lead the way. And that is why, I can announce that the Scottish Government is adopting our preferred position of no support for coal extraction in Scotland. Scotland – the country that helped bring the coal-fired industrial revolution to the world – has drawn a line. The era of coal is over. And I’m calling on the UK Government to follow us, to make the right call for once, and to ban coal extraction for good.”

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