AS the newly elected co-leader of the Scottish Greens, it will not surprise you to learn that I am in no doubt at all that human burning of fossil fuels is changing the climate of our planet.

Neither were any of the more than 80 scientists who sailed with me to the Antarctic in January this year.

Whether their speciality was forest fires, mountain lizards or coral reefs, all of their research showed the same thing.

The ship’s captain, a man with 30 years of experience in the Antarctic, told us how each year the glaciers were smaller and further away. Each year there was more bare rock to see. The Antarctic biologists spoke to us about how this year’s first hatching of Adelie penguin chicks drowned when the snow melted early, and about how there are fewer Adelies every year, because the krill that they eat can’t live in warmer seawater.

We are in the middle of a climate emergency. We have a decade to make significant changes to our economy and priorities in order to prevent catastrophic climate breakdown.

There is hope. We can make the changes that need to be made. It is possible. But like the case for Scottish independence, it will take courage. Some talk about Scotland being too small to make a difference, but as someone who works in renewable energy, I believe Scotland can lead the way.

Thanks in large part to the sector I work in, tidal power, Scotland has the potential to provide 25% of all the renewable energy in Europe. With the right infrastructure to build on this potential capacity of 60GW or more, we could be a major exporter of clean energy.

The courage needed here is to start that transition now, not wait until we have extracted every last drop of oil.

Texo in Dundee is one company that is showing the way. Significant investment has been made at its facility to accommodate the construction of Orbital Marine’s next tidal turbine.

This is just one turbine, imagine the impact on the economy if that was 50 or 100 turbines. There would be enough work to keep Ferguson Marine and Bifab in business for years. There is a whole industry ready to take off, the basis upon which to build a new Scottish economy.

We need a Scottish Green New Deal as a practical way to transform Scotland’s economy, create hundreds of thousands of new jobs in clean, green industries and tackle the huge inequality that still exists within our communities.

President Franklin D Roosevelt came up with the original “new deal” in the United States in the 1930s, in order to help the country to recover from the Great Depression and to deal with the significant income and wealth inequalities that plagued the country.

The National:

Our Scottish Green New Deal would be similarly sweeping, re-prioritising fair wages, investing in infrastructure for sustainable industries and undertaking public works projects such as insulation of houses to ensure that everyone in Scotland has a warm home.

But while working on our plans, I realised just how long the list of powers still reserved to Westminster remains.

Only 59 of the 650 MPs in the house of Commons are elected by the people of Scotland, and so on many of the crucial areas we need courage in, the people of Scotland have effectively no say at all.

Westminster still dictates fiscal, economic and monetary policy, air transport, energy markets and efficiency. All policy tools that would be extremely helpful in implementing a Scottish Green New Deal.

The tariffs impacting on my industry are dictated by Westminster. “‘Submarine cables”, which carry power along the sea bed, are a reserved matter. All the UK’s current submarine cables are between England and Europe. The planned installation of a link between Scotland and mainland Europe, or export links between Orkney and mainland Scotland, never came to pass.

These cables would allow Scotland to directly export its valuable and abundant renewable energy directly to the European markets and into the UK grid. Yet instead of investing in Scotland’s potential, Westminster pushes ahead with the disastrous Hinkley Point nuclear power station.

It’s clear, then, that the courage required for a Scottish Green New Deal needs independence. None of the main parties at Westminster recognise the required urgency or the potential for Scotland.

Independence doesn’t just mean nationhood. It means communities having more say in how their local land and resources such as seafront, woodland, wind energy are used and the benefits shared.

We’ve seen that when people have more say in what happens in their neighbourhood, they tend to make more sustainable, fairer decisions. People can see the benefits of clean air, clean water, wildlife, greenery in their communities, but it’s hard to make changes unless they have the ability to take control.

There is a solid case for Scottish independence to be made in planning for a sustainable low-carbon future. It is up to us to have the courage to seize the future that we want for ourselves and our children.