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Considerable criticism can be levelled at the European Union and the Greens’ amendment does that without losing sight of the broader issue that is at stake. The progress that the continent has made in safeguarding our environment and tackling climate change—the most urgent issue of our generation—is a success of the European project. That success here in Scotland and across these islands is potentially under threat from Brexit.
If Scotland is forced out of the European Union despite the result of the vote, there is much that we can protect by using the Scottish Parliament’s powers, and I welcome the reassurances that the cabinet secretary gave. However, much is outwith our control and we must pressure the Westminster Government to take that seriously.
Some Conservative colleagues seem keen to derail the debate and to divert us from their party’s record and actions. Finlay Carson said that the debate was just a smokescreen for Scottish Government failures, which I found a bit bewildering. The Greens have consistently called out Scottish Government failures on the environment and climate change. Are the Conservatives suggesting that we should not debate the significant impacts that Brexit could have on every portfolio area for which the Parliament is responsible?
Maurice Golden almost always makes substantial points on the environment, so I was disappointed that he reverted to the single transferable speech of the Conservative Party post Brexit. That is not what we need in this kind of debate.
Alexander Burnett raised important points about forestry and planting. He is right that the Scottish Government has failed to make the required progress. However, I am glad that, unlike Mr Burnett’s colleagues down south, the Scottish Government has not tried to sell off our publicly owned forests.