Three months after the Scottish parliament election, the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Scottish Greens have announced a power-sharing deal.
The SNP was one seat short of a majority in May, while the Greens, who also support Scottish independence, won eight.
Three months before the Cop 26 climate summit takes place in Glasgow, there were hopes that the Greens’ presence in the new government will put pressure on the SNP to take urgently needed action on climate change. But the detail of the deal shows that’s false.
The environmental measures agreed are wholly inadequate to meet the scale of the climate crisis. Like several of their sister parties elsewhere, the Scottish Greens have prioritised achieving ministerial positions over radical climate action.
The SNP has long claimed Scotland leads worldwide on environmental action.
However, its record in office doesn’t bear this out.
The Greens have demanded an immediate ban on new North Sea fossil fuel extraction. The SNP recently came under attack from Scottish Labour and environmental activists over the opening of the new oil field Cambo, near Shetland.
In a statement, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that “our responsibility to tackle climate change must govern the approach to any new licence applications”.
But she has refused to take action over Cambo on the basis that the licence was given years ago, and instead passed the buck to Boris Johnson.
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie also said the fact that decisions on energy are made by Westminster facilitated the deal. This enabled him to swivel out of making stronger demands on the SNP.
But hiding behind Westminster is not good enough. If the Scottish government is serious about addressing the climate crisis, and the British state is an obstacle, it should be prepared to defy it and disobey it.
Scottish Green members will have the chance next Saturday to vote on the deal at an emergency party meeting.
The same approach of passing the buck will govern the government partners’ attitude to issues such as the Trident nuclear base in Faslane.
The SNP says it is for scrapping Trident after independence. Historically, the party had been opposed to membership of the Nato military coalition.
But the 2012 SNP conference backed a proposal by then leader Alex Salmond to drop this position. This was underpinned by the leadership’s vision of independence of creating a successful capitalist Scotland.
The natural conditions of the Faslane base mean it’s probably the only place where the British state could store submarine-based nuclear missiles. So Nato would make it a condition on an independent Scotland to keep Trident in order to accept it as a member.
The SNP has control over transport in Scotland and could have used these powers to stop hazardous material being transported on Scottish roads, blocking trucks taking material to the Faslane nuclear base.
The Scottish government has also come under pressure from the right-wing leaders of the GMB union. They said the SNP-Green deal could be a “one-way ticket to the dole queue”, implying environmental and anti-nuclear measures will mean job losses.
In fact, the £205 billion wasted on weapons and the nuclear base could be invested in the creation of climate jobs and to retrain the workers there.
The SNP and Greens have agreed a second independence referendum should take place “after the Covid pandemic has passed”.
This vague language will allow them to kick the can down the road for years. This is to hide the fact that there is no strategy to take independence forward in the face of the Tories’ unwillingness to grant indyref2.
The SNP is not prepared to defy the Tories. Building a militant mass movement will be the key to winning climate action, an independence that really changes things, and an end to nuclear weapons.