WHAT a difference a week makes. Last week the First Minister upgraded her government’s climate targets to include a net-zero date of 2045 after finally declaring a climate emergency. That outcome was inevitable given the science, which is utterly conclusive, and the activism of recent months, which has been equally compelling. Now, she has abandoned her plan to cut Air Passenger Duty (APD), a policy which Greens always argued was harmful and unnecessary, and simply had to go.

Giving credit where it’s due, this is an important first step. It’s good that it’s been done quickly, with minimum of fuss, and has been signalled as part of a wholesale look across policies to review those with the greatest potential to reduce climate emissions.

For Greens this is an unparalleled opportunity to lead change. We have been the only party consistent in our opposition to the APD cuts on environmental grounds and we’ve consistently secured policy commitments to reduce emissions through budget negotiations. But we need other parties, who now also accept there is a climate emergency, to make their policy similarly on matters of principle, not political opportunism. The points about the new-found opposition, from Labour and the LibDems in particular, to councils having workplace parking levy powers, are well made.

It’s important now that there’s logical consistency and that other policies which aim to grow air travel are similarly examined. We made the case this week that should mean ending support for expanding Heathrow airport. Environmental scientists have studied the “rebound effect” – the idea that if money saved by using resources more efficiently just results in those being reinvested in something else with negative impacts then there’s limited overall benefit. That can be true in a political sense too and if we’re serious about climate emergency then we must now question any policies which give aviation or other polluting industries a free pass. So in the weeks and months ahead, Greens will be challenging climate inconsistencies across current policy, whether that’s pushing for investment in active travel ahead of building new trunk roads, or by challenging vested interests in oil and gas and committing to a renewables revolution. Given there are just 10 years to make a radical reset we must approach that with real urgency and conviction.

This week also saw a sobering report on the biodiversity crisis we also face. Just as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report prompted the current wave of climate action, so the latest report from the UN Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services must be a wake-up call for our ecological support systems.

My Green colleague Mark Ruskell has called on the Scottish and UK governments to declare a biodiversity crisis, recognising that the current rate of nature and biodiversity decline is unprecedented and that around one million species are threatened with extinction. The global response is not enough and transformative changes are needed to restore and protect nature. Scotland is not immune from this catastrophic loss of nature, with iconic species from puffins to wild salmon under huge pressure.

The good news is that solutions to both the climate and ecological crises can be provided in tandem. By restoring and re-wilding our land and seas we have that opportunity, but it needs a major shift in farming, forestry and fisheries policy, which will require challenging vested interests. And fundamentally it will require a level of public investment and political leadership that can only come with the power of the state and will only be accepted if we actively involve people in making the decisions that will decide our future. That’s the heart of our vision for a Green New Deal for Scotland; a vision that’s not just a solution to the planet’s urgent needs but also for a more just and equal society and which rethinks what matters in our economy.

We’ve seen an incredible wave of activism recently, one which is now stirring those with power into action, and which is showing up at the polls with the “Green Wave” which started in Europe spreading to the UK at local elections in England and Northern Ireland. On May 23, Scotland will vote to elect our representatives to the European Parliament – still a vital cog in our environmental governance. Over the next few weeks we’ll be making the case passionately that the ecological crises we face are a product of economic injustice and that for a fairer Europe, with hope to tackle the climate emergency, that must mean a vote for the Scottish Greens.