WE’RE only two weeks into the Johnson premiership and, while unsurprising, his first government appointments were a grim reminder of the direction in which he intends to take the United Kingdom.

From a Foreign Secretary who has shown time and time again that he lacks a basic understanding of the issues at play in Brexit, to an authoritarian Home Secretary who was sacked from her last job for carrying out black-ops diplomacy, this is a cabinet of Brexit fanatics and fantasists.

But, as the Greens’ environment spokesperson, I’ve found the appointment of Theresa Villiers as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs particularly chilling. This role should be one of the most important in government, standing as it does at the front line of the national response to the climate emergency.

It seems self-evident that stopping climate change should be at the top of the agenda for the Environment Secretary, but there is little to reason to believe that is what motivates Theresa Villiers. She talks a good game, having previously said she opposes the expansion of Heathrow Airport, but words are not enough.

Her stance on fracking is of particular concern. Back in 2015 she issued a statement on her website in which she explained why she couldn’t support a ban on fracking. Depressingly, she claimed: “We need to strike the right balance between the legitimate concerns of landowners and the benefits to society as a whole.”

Of course climate change threatens the whole of society, landowners will suffer with the rest of us, but it’s the most vulnerable people who will suffer the most. Recognising that would require the kind of long-term thinking on the environment that they’ve proven themselves unwilling to engage in. There is no balance to be struck anymore when it comes to fossil fuels, we have gone well past the point where the exploration and exploitation of new reserves is justifiable.

She is also a passionate Brexiteer and supporter of leaving without a deal. While we can always go further, huge swathes of our environmental legislation comes from the European Union. An independent academic study commissioned by Friends of the Earth said that the UK Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan lacked detail, and where it did provide detail it was less ambitious than the levels set by the EU. On top of that, it found that a chaotic No-Deal Brexit posed a high risk to a wide range of areas including fisheries, habitats and birds, ground water and air quality.

While we’re racing towards an environmental Brexit cliff edge, the EU isn’t standing still with evolving fisheries and agriculture polices that will put action on climate and biodiversity front and centre. The Brexiteers still believe that leaving the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) will result in a vast explosion of fish in the sea, oblivious to the fact that a No-Deal on access to fishing waters for EU boats will inevitably lead to tariffs and barriers on the 80% of Scottish seafood that is sold to the continent. For all its faults, without the CFP cod stocks in the North Sea would have collapsed years ago. We need to be in the EU to have a voice in the ongoing reform.

Of course significant environmental responsibilities are devolved to Holyrood and while Team Boris are determined to wreak havoc, the responsibility on the Scottish Government to be as ambitious as possible on climate is even greater. They’ve shown a greater willingness to take the climate crisis seriously, but once again actions speak far louder than words.

Scotland has struggled to meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets in recent years and there is clearly a huge amount of work left to do. When the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared a climate emergency, mere weeks after the SNP voted against a motion in parliament to do just that, she said everything is up for review. We need that review to take place urgently.

When MSPs return from the recess, Sturgeon must set out in the programme for government exactly how she and her colleagues intend to proceed. For example, we need more investment in public transport, cycling and walking to provide an alternative to the car’s dominance. We also urgently need to make land use and agriculture part of the solution to climate change rather than a growing problem. The Climate Change Bill currently going through Holyrood needs to be stronger – it must put the climate emergency at the heart of big government decisions like the Budget.

Derek Mackay’s next Budget must, at the very least, begin to bring about a just transition to a zero-carbon future which leaves no worker behind in this critical decade of action. If it doesn’t, the Scottish Government may find it hard to win the majority support of MSPs at Holyrood.