LAST week’s local elections were a breakthrough for the Scottish Greens, and an important step in securing the better future and climate action that we need.

In the weeks leading up to the election we asked the people of Scotland to think globally and act locally. That message reached a record number of people and we saw Green councillors elected in record numbers, in areas where we have never won before.

We broke new ground, with the people of Shetland, Moray, the Borders, North Lanarkshire, Clackmannanshire, East Lothian, South Lanarkshire and Argyll & Bute all electing their first ever Green councillors. These results will make a big difference. They will change the conversation in those town halls and put climate action and support for local services firmly on the agenda.

READ MORE: Inside the Scottish Greens' best ever local election

In the areas where we already had councillors – including Edinburgh, where I live, Glasgow and the Highlands – people could see the positive impact that Green councillors are already bringing to their communities. They voted for more of that change, giving us more councillors in all three regions.

Every vote for the Scottish Greens was a vote for a community champion and a vote to support our local services and invest in public transport and our environment. They were votes for less pollution, cleaner air and to ensure that the wellbeing of people and the planet will always be right at the heart of everything we are doing.

Foremost, the result was a reflection on the excellent work and commitment of our local candidates and campaigners. They have put a huge amount of time into building our support from the ground up. They have knocked on thousands of doors and spoken to thousands of residents.

It is also a reflection on the work that Greens are doing in Holyrood and a vote of confidence in the progress we have made. With Greens in government, we are turning words into actions and promises into reality. We have shown what can be achieved when there are Green voices around the table and working positively and constructively for change.

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We have secured free bus travel for everyone under 22, as well as record investment in wildlife, nature, recycling and infrastructure for walking, wheeling and cycling. We are delivering the biggest investment in new teachers for a generation and new and better rights for tenants, including rent controls.

A lot of the most important policies that we are introducing as part of the Scottish Government will be implemented in co-ordination with our local authorities. Last week’s results mean that all over Scotland, Green councillors will be working with Green MSPs to deliver on Green priorities.

The next five years will be vital for our environment. The United Nations has described the climate crisis as “code red for humanity” and warned that it is “now or never” for the climate action that this generation of politicians must take.

The climate crisis is global and needs global solutions, but many of the steps that we are taking will also rely on local action from our councils. That is what our teams will be working to deliver.

They will be pushing for local commitments to net-zero carbon emissions with robust action plans and milestones in place, which is exactly what has been achieved already by Green councillors in Edinburgh. They also aim to secure greater recycling services, better public transport and a reduction in the use of single-use plastics.

Watching the Queen’s Speech this week made it clear how urgent the situation is. People are suffering in a terrible cost-of-living crisis that has been exacerbated by the decisions of Boris Johnson and his colleagues.

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It was sickening and obscene to see it all being read out on top of a throne and in front of golden wallpaper. The optics were bad, but the content was worse.

Beneath the pageantry and ceremony, there was very little substance. The speech offered more of the same.

There was nothing positive or inspiring. There was nothing at all to help the millions of people who are being hit by skyrocketing energy prices and the biggest fall in living standards since records began.

There was also nothing for the environment, with a big climate shaped hole right in the middle. What it offered was a weak and unambitious energy policy, repressive new curbs and restrictions on the right to protest, a very selective so-called ban on conversion therapy and an even more brutal and hostile environment for refugees.

It wasn’t just a missed opportunity. It was a conscious endorsement of a harsh, failing and unsustainable status quo at a time when bold and transformative action is needed.

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One Tory MP claimed the problem was that people who use food banks can’t cook or budget properly. It was a condescending comment that said more about him than it did about people who have been forced to use a food bank. The simple fact is that no-one can cook without ingredients or heat.

It doesn’t have to be like this. Our future can be brilliant. It can be so much better than what Downing Street is offering. We can follow a different path and build an independent Scotland that moves on from a disastrous Tory Brexit that we rejected, takes the climate action that is needed and introduces economic policies that reduce inequality, help our communities, and create a fairer, greener society.

Last week’s election was another important step on that journey.

I know that we were only able to get the result that we did because thousands of people took the plunge and voted Green for the first time. I know that it can be a big step to change your vote, and sometimes the habit of a lifetime.

We can’t thank you enough for your trust and support. We will not let you down. We will never take any vote for granted, and, over the next five years, our team will do everything that we can to live up to your expectations and deliver the change that you voted for.