PATRICK Harvie has responded to criticism from Age Scotland after he suggested that SNP MSP Fergus Ewing was from a generation that had not “come to terms with the reality of what the climate emergency requires of us all collectively".

It comes after the Scottish Green minister spoke to Scotland on Sunday about the frequent attacks on his party from the former SNP cabinet secretary.

Ewing, 65, has been vocal in his criticism of the Greens and their governing agreement with the SNP in recent months, claiming the party are “extremists” who should not be allowed into government.

Responding, Harvie, 50, had said: “He represents a generation that simply hasn’t moved on and come to terms with the reality of what the climate emergency requires of us all collectively.”

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The Greens co-leader’s comments were read as an attack on the older generation of Scots in general.

Age Scotland’s interim chief executive Katherine Crawford said it was “sad to see such a sweeping – and inaccurate – statement made about older people”.

She told the Herald: “It is wrong, of course, but such comments also fundamentally undermine older people’s participation in society, make them feel less valued and can lead to greater isolation and loneliness.”

But Harvie insisted that his comments had been taken “out of context” and that he had been referring to Ewing’s place in the SNP, and not a social generation as a whole.

Asked about the controversy by journalists at the launch of the Green campaign in the Hamilton and Rutherglen West by-election, Harvie said: “Some of those comments have been taken out of context. It was quite clear from the interview I gave I was talking about Mr Ewing (below) specifically, not any sweeping generalisations as some people have suggested."

The National: SNP MSP Fergus Ewing Image: PA

He went on: “I was brought up by a Green activist in a generation, the 70s, 80s, and 90s, when Greens were already ringing the alarm bells. That same woman, my mum, in her early 80s, gave the closing speech at our party conference this year.

“It’s very clear that the Greens are a movement that has spanned generations and values, that contribution that an older generation of Green activists have made and continue to make to this day. It’s a shame Fergus Ewing has never been one of them.”

Pressed, Harvie added: “In the actual interview I wasn’t talking about a social generation I was talking about a cohort of SNP policymakers behind the whole ‘it’s Scotland oil’ mantra of previous decades.”

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Ewing has been outspoken in his support for continued exploitation of the oil and gas resources in the North Sea, saying that “a thriving oil and gas industry in Scotland is actually essential to tackle climate change”.

The Greens have called for the winding down of fossil fuels and a “just transition” towards cleaner sources of energy.

Fact-check service The Ferret concluded in July that claims not using the North Sea oil and gas would make climate change worse due to increasing reliance on imports were “mostly false”.

It wrote: “Scientists agree that any new oil and gas production, regardless of where it takes place, would have a detrimental effect on global and UK attempts to reduce climate change impacts and limit warming to 1.5C, and thus could stop the UK from achieving its climate targets.”