YESTERDAY’S Budget is more important than ever, not least because it comes after the Government’s own advisers warned that the next 12 months is when radical action to tackle the climate crisis must happen.

It is a timescale which cannot be ignored if Scotland is to lead the response to the overwhelming international scientific evidence on global warming.

Kate Forbes, Public Finance Minister, called it “a climate emergency budget”. In reality, it offered small change, not serious investment, to tackle the biggest crisis facing us.

Clearly there were some things I would welcome in the budget, including extending free bus travel to recipients of the Young Carer Grant, championed by Greens, and measures to tackle child poverty.

The Scottish Child Payment could make a real impact, but it is vital that we ensure that everyone who is entitled to it, receives it. On current projections of take-up, tens of thousands of families will miss out.

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This is much less of an issue with the alternative strategy of topping-up Child Benefit, which has a higher take-up and isn’t dependent on people receiving the problem-hit Universal Credit.

I was proud to have played a part in shaping the new benefits system as the founding legislation passed through Parliament, and the Scottish Government must be given a chance to succeed in providing a service that treats people with more dignity than the legacy of the DWP.

But we cannot have dignity unless benefits are at a decent level, and we must ensure that the new payments coming on line are funded so they are fit for purpose.

Unfortunately, however, when it comes to the climate emergency, we find a gap between the Scottish Government’s rhetoric and its spending.

The Scottish Greens have shown year after year that we will work constructively with the SNP on their Budget, winning among other things a more progressive income tax system, some important powers and funding for councils and vital environmental protections.

This year, we were clear what Government must bring to the table to gain our support, but the Government did not make any meaningful attempt at discussion with us ahead of the statement.

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Perhaps that is because other parties seem satisfied with the Scottish Government’s eye-catching stretch targets to reduce Scotland’s emissions, without engaging with what they must mean for policy decisions.

After all, all the other parties backed the Scottish Government’s toothless Climate Bill in September. Ever since, it has been the Greens that have put real pressure on ministers to recognise what needs to be done in the two areas where emissions are going up – traffic on our roads and how we heat our homes.

This is also a social justice issue. Investing in public transport, especially in rural communities which are poorly served, has the biggest impact on those who cannot afford to drive, while making homes more efficient also tackles the scourge of fuel poverty, which leaves too many families choosing between heating and eating in the winter months.

In fact, investing in Scotland’s housing stock to make our homes more efficient and warmer is one of the most cost-effective ways of tackling the climate emergency and fuel poverty.

That’s why it is such a shame that what is proposed in the Budget is timid, not transformative. Funds to make our homes more efficient have only seen a marginal increase.

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Traffic levels, meanwhile, play an increasing role in Scotland missing its existing climate targets, as well as causing rising air pollution, causing a public health emergency.

Here too, the Government is also offering only marginal increases. A tiny increase for active travel, funds for bus lanes that were already announced and a few million for electric cars take-up. It’s far from the policy and culture shift required.

And major road expansions that the Government admit only increase congestion carry on as normal.

The SNP have always liked to play their cards close to their chest, delivering Budgets with swagger and bravado. But they do not have an overall majority anymore, and must seek support from others.

The timescale of this Budget is tight because of the UK Government’s disregard of Scotland, but that doesn’t mean other parties will be bullied into accepting it. Kate Forbes told MSPs of the parameters of compromise – that parties must show where savings could be made.

The Greens have already done that. Hopefully she will have an open door.