Patrick Harvie: This is what a Green vote in Holyrood’s elections could deliver

HELD during a global public health crisis and facing down a global climate crisis, this has been an election campaign like no other I have ever witnessed. Without the normal opportunities to speak to people on doorsteps, it has been difficult to hear the concerns of voters in the same way we normally do.

Launching our manifesto to a virtual audience was also a new experience, without the buzz in the room, but with plenty of positive responses online. However, there have been more opportunities than ever before to talk to people online, with a huge number of virtual hustings, and that has meant there has been more focus on specific policies and more opportunities for people with a particular concern or interest to hear from all the parties.

What has been clear is that while the election has been different than normal, the stakes couldn’t be higher. This is Scotland’s chance to tackle the climate emergency with urgency. With less than 10 years before the deadline set by the Paris Agreement as a point of no return, the next Holyrood election in five years’ time may be too late to take meaningful action.

READ MORE: Scottish Greens’ radical jobs plan could make Scotland a world-leader in climate fight

Our climate is already changing, causing forest fires, devastating floods and the mass extinction of species. Scotland can do something about it, and the Greens know that even with devolution there’s far more action we can take now. But being tied to Westminster is without question holding us back, and we find ourselves cut adrift from Europe when we could be giving leadership.

This is not the future we want for the next generation.

It is at this election that Scotland can decide how the country will recover from the economic and mental health impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, a legacy that may shape our future as a country. And of course, at this election we must elect a parliament that will secure our future as an independent country.

Even before the pandemic struck, Scotland was missing its targets on child poverty and climate emissions. We need to turn those around, fast.

The opportunity to shape our future is there, but only if we vote for it. The Scottish Greens have based our entire campaign on these stakes, because we know our future depends on it. We have the solutions to the climate crisis and for a green recovery that leaves no-one behind.

Our manifesto is a bold, detailed proposal to build a better future for all of us over the next five years. It is a manifesto for change, with plans to invest directly in the sustainable infrastructure we need to lower Scotland’s climate emissions and secure our survival. It also means asking the richest Scots to pay more in taxes.

We have announced plans to create 100,000 green jobs by investing in renewables, public transport, warm homes and restoring nature. We have announced bold proposals to upgrade Scotland’s railways and ferries. We have announced a new play-based kindergarten stage to help younger children develop and close the attainment gap. And we’ve shown that independence can be a new start for Scotland, to lead Europe in renewable energy, to play a major role in nuclear disarmament and drive up pay and conditions for workers.

This scale of change is essential. As we emerge from the chaos and shattered lives of the pandemic, we can’t go back to the broken economy we had, which left too many people on low pay and insecure work or living arrangements. An economy which allows vast amounts of wealth to be taken offshore to avoid taxation, while others have to rely on foodbanks.

READ MORE: Keir Starmer takes flak over flight to Scotland for campaign visit

We need to build a new Scotland. An independent nation that doesn’t just face up to its social and environmental responsibilities, but plays a leading role in a fairer and greener Europe.

That’s what Green votes will deliver. We’ve shown that Scottish Green MSPs can make a difference, delivering results for people across Scotland through things like fairer taxes and free bus travel for young people.

But now is the time for an even stronger green voice in parliament, to face up to the common challenges which face us.

We will rebuild our economy, tackle the climate emergency, invest in our public services, correct the stark and growing inequalities that impact on the life chances of too many, and we will restore Scotland’s natural environment.

Polls have shown that every part of Scotland can elect Scottish Green MSPs on May 6, but that will depend on people using those votes to take this opportunity and secure our future.

We have already entered unknown territory in this election. The choice is now about where we go next. Together, we have an opportunity to vote like our future depends on it. Because it does.

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