WHEN the Bute House Agreement was signed in 2021 the SNP and the Scottish Greens agreed upon a policy programme where cooperation between the parties was guaranteed.

As the power sharing agreement comes to an abrupt end, we’ve taken a look at what it achieved and where it fell short of its commitments. 


The Bute House Agreement contained a commitment to “secure a referendum on Scottish independence after the Covid crisis”.

In June 2022, then first minister Nicola Sturgeon said she intended to hold a referendum in October 2023.

But this plan was scuppered in November 2022 after the UK Supreme Court ruled that Holyrood did not have the power to hold a vote on independence without the agreement of Westminster.

READ MORE: The defining events during the Bute House Agreement

Other than gaining legal clarity that Holyrood has no power to legislate for a referendum on its own, the harnessing of a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament via the Bute House Agreement failed to produce results in terms of a second independence referendum.

Climate Change

The scrapping of the Scottish Government’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2030 caused much consternation within the Scottish Greens.

The party was due to hold an extraordinary general meeting to discuss the future of the Bute House Agreement next month after members denounced the dropping of the key climate goal.

However, Humza Yousaf took matters into his own hands and terminated the deal before Scottish Greens members could have their say.

The Bute House Agreement largely focused on aligning transport policy with the country’s climate goals.

The National: Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie spoke on the eve of the Scottish Greens party conference

This included the goal of reducing the number of kilometres travelled by car by 20% by 2030.

However, earlier this week the chief executive of the independent Climate Change Committee, Chris Stark, warned that he was “dubious” the plan would be successful.

Speaking to MSPs during an appearance in front of the Net Zero committee, he said: “I am dubious about any plan to be successful in delivering the 20% reduction, and the reason I say that is because the requirements are pretty big to pull that off.”

READ MORE: Patrick Harvie in icy challenge to Humza Yousaf after being fired

He said that in order to reach the goal Scotland would have to see the same impact on emissions achieved by London in the first year after it introduced a congestion charge every year between now and 2030.

“Maybe they have a plan to do that in the Scottish Government – I would love to see it – but that took years of planning for London to introduce that, and we haven’t had that kind of planning in cities across Scotland.”


The shared policy agreement contained a commitment to increase spending on active travel and commission a Fair Fares Review on public transport.

And, indeed, the latest Scottish Budget saw the government commit to maintaining record spending on active travel with a Fair Fares Review published earlier this year.

However, despite not explicitly being contained in the Bute House Agreement, the introduction of free bus travel for under-22s and the pilot scrapping of peak fares on ScotRail services have been notable policy successes.

The National: Under 19s can travel on the bus for free

Transgender rights

Reforming the Gender Recognition Act was a key commitment of the Bute House Agreement.

The Scottish Parliament passed a Gender Recognition Reform Bill in December 2022 with a cross-party majority voting in favour of the legislation, which sought to simplify the process by which transgender people could legally change their gender.

However, a historic first use of a Section 35 Order by the UK Government blocked the bill from gaining royal assent.

As such, the law remains in limbo. The recent publication of the Cass Review into gender identity healthcare provided to children by NHS England has also caused shockwaves in Scotland.

READ MORE: Scottish Greens react to being ditched from government

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, who run Scotland’s only gender identity clinic for under-18s, announced that it would be pausing the prescription of puberty blockers and hormone treatment for young people in Scotland in the wake of the report.

However, Health Secretary Neil Gray’s welcoming of the report caused anger within the LGBT+ wing of the Scottish Greens.

They added to calls for an extraordinary general meeting to be held about the future of the Bute House Agreement.

Marine Protection

The creation of Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) covering at least 10% of Scotland’s seas was included in the Bute House Agreement.

HPMAs would have banned nearly all human activity within their borders, including fishing, aquaculture and renewables.

Environmental organisations said the policy would have significantly improved the health of Scotland’s marine ecosystems.

READ MORE: Poll: Is scrapping the Bute House Agreement the right decision?

However, the policy was dropped following a consultation after outcry from some fishing and coastal communities.

Anger over the proposal also led to SNP MSP Fergus Ewing ripping up the legislation in the Scottish Parliament.

Child Poverty

Both parties agreed to cooperate on increasing the Scottish Child Payment.

It was introduced in 2021 at £10 a week per child before being increased to £20 in April 2022.

In November, it was increased yet again to £25 and has been hailed “an absolute game-changer in the fight to end child poverty” by the independent Child Poverty Action Group.

New figures show that child poverty is stable in Scotland but rising in the rest of the UK.