AMONGST the tumultuous hurricane of political news which made touchdown on our screens this week was the First Minister’s announcement of the Scottish Programme for Government. The programme, promisingly named Protecting Scotland’s Future, details the Government’s plan of action for the year ahead and covers a variety of important points, from nurturing mental well-being, to protecting human rights.

One of the major focus points of this plan is the Government’s intention to tackle Scotland’s contribution to the climate crisis.

It’s exciting to finally hear some advancement on the First Minister’s climate emergency declaration – which was starting to feel like lip service in the past five months since the announcement.

While it’s encouraging to see Scotland taking the first steps towards net-zero emissions, the programme did highlight some areas of concern for me in terms of the Government’s lack of urgency when it comes to addressing this crucial issue.

For starters, the strategy seems to rely heavily on encouraging members of the public to take matters into their own hands by helping them to make better choices for the environment.

It discusses providing £17 million in loans for people to buy electric cars and the Government’s intentions to work with the public, businesses, and the third sector to produce advice on how Scots can change their diets to be more sustainable.

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While I really wish I could say that measures like these, which place the focus on individual responsibility, will be adequate effort to end to the climate crisis, I cannot lie. The truth is that they’re nowhere near enough.

We must stop blaming everyday citizens for the environmental crisis. I am so sick of hearing how in order to save the planet you have to be a plastic-free vegan who lives in a shack and drinks their own recycled toilet water. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re able to make changes to your lifestyle then that’s great! And it’s always good to be mindful of your personal consumption. But not being in a position to alter your lifestyle doesn’t make you a horrible person who deserves to be sacrificed to mother Gaia due to your personal responsibility for the death of our planet.

As an environmental activist, it’s not my intention to bat that hamburger out of your hand and give you a disapproving look. The fact is that many people are unable to adopt personal changes due to a variety of external and often systemic factors. And even if they could, it still wouldn’t be enough to tackle climate change alone.

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Furthermore, this “personal change” rhetoric distracts from the real issues responsible for the climate crisis, such as greed from the individuals and corporations who hold the power and money and the systems which allow such parties and establishments to operate unchecked.

I am seriously concerned that the Scottish Government’s programme concentrates too much on lifestyle choice, when what we really need to combat is the big businesses and world leaders placing their own self-interest over the interests of the people and the planet.

To me it feels like the Government’s strategy aims significantly at conquering the small stuff. And while it’s true that the small stuff adds up, the big stuff adds up a whole lot quicker.

If there must a barrier to climate justice to be dissected under the microscope of public scrutiny, let it not be plastic straws. Instead, let it be the continuous selfish attitudes which the few at the top hold, and the fact that these attitudes dictate what is happening to our planet whilst the blame is shifted to the personal responsibility of the many.

This is what we need to pay attention to. It’s not acceptable for major corporations to destroy the only planet we have and reap the rewards whilst the poorest in society pay the price. Whether it’s crop failures thanks to extreme weather driving up the price of food, or harsher winters that call for expensive heating bills, it’s the people who cause these problems that can afford to adapt to their consequences, whilst the ones who’re often forced to choose between eating and heating are the people who are the least accountable for this issue.

The Programme for Government also mentions the notion of “sustainable growth”, and I find this to be a curious concept.

To climate activists like me, sustainable growth is an oxymoronic term; in order to grow, we must have the extraction of materials to provide the capital necessary to fuel that growth, and the reality is that it’s impossible to sustain the consumption of a finite resource forever, since it will inevitably run out. How can you simultaneously eat into what’s left of our natural world in the name of economic expansion and do it in a way that supposedly protects said natural world for the generations to come?

THIS idea of sustainable growth feels like a weak attempt to placate both the green lobbyists and those who prioritise wealth over the environment, when the truth is that we simply don’t have the time to sling around fancy buzzwords that make us look good on paper.

It’s vital that we see far more drastic action than things like hydrogen busses and electric trains. We must ensure that we reach net zero as soon as possible and re-evaluate how our society operates. We need a proper Green New Deal which takes into account not just economic growth and investment, but all aspects of a “just transition” to a sustainable country.

Which part of “climate emergency” does the Scottish Government not understand? We need to address this crisis now, and it’s essential that we find a way to do it fast. Instead of focussing on profit, we must concentrate on finding real solutions to the climate crisis that recognise the needs of nature, and of people, while we still can.

Climate emergency must equal “climate urgency” and unfortunately the small and incremental steps the Programme for Government lays out do not reflect that. The Scottish Government’s plan needs to communicate the urgency necessary to fix the climate crisis and it has to dedicate more energy towards implementing strong solutions that work for everyone like a Green New Deal.

When your future is at stake, it’s hard not to be frustrated when it feels like nobody’s listening.

But that’s not actually the case. Public awareness of the environmental crisis is at an all-time high. Young people are finally being acknowledged and governments are starting to take notice. We understand that it can’t all happen at once. Rome wasn’t built in a day and the prosperous, sustainable and equitable nation that Scotland has the potential to become won’t be either.

But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try our absolute hardest to achieve the solutions we so desperately need as soon as possible. We can’t afford to wait, everything we know and love about this great wee country is in jeopardy.

I could spout about all the crazy and terrifying consequences for ages, but I’m not a climate scientist, and you know all that stuff already. So instead I’ll just reiterate this: we don’t live in a fairy tale. Nobody’s going to swoop in and save us, only we can save ourselves.

There is no happy ending to uncontrollable climate change, and we cannot let that become a reality.

Youth Strikers like me are begging the Government to fix this, we’re fighting with all our strength. As for our plan of action for the year ahead? We’re going to keep striking, keep making young voices heard and keep demanding the action necessary to protect not just Scotland’s future, but the future of our planet.