THIS has been a seismic year for our country and our planet. Despite the chaos, we have made significant steps towards a fairer, greener and independent Scotland.

After three marathon days of debate and amendments, many of us were pleased and relieved to see Gender Recognition Reform finally passing through Parliament on Wednesday. It is a long-overdue reform that was also a core part of the Bute House Agreement that we negotiated with the Scottish Government.

It is a landmark piece of legislation that puts Scotland in line with best practice internationally and means that we are leading the UK in terms of equality legislation.

The debate brought out the best and worst of our Parliament. Progressive MSPs from all across the Chamber united to deliver the bill while facing down a cynical and reactionary disinformation campaign which was even worse than the homophobic attempt to “Keep the Clause” back in 2000.

This time around, many of those opposing equality weren’t just acting out of a set of principles I disagree with. The Conservatives in particular have shown that they see disruption as a political goal in itself.

They know that people see a professional Parliament in Scotland they can trust, compared with chaos and incompetence at Westminster, and they know that support for independence is rising. They are determined to drag Scotland’s Parliament down to their own level. We must not allow them.

For the Greens, this week’s progress followed a year of delivery and of turning priorities into a reality. Over the last 12 months, we have worked positively and constructively as part of the Government to build a fairer and better country.

We have worked to tackle poverty by putting money in people’s pockets and cutting the cost of living.

READ MORE: Gender reform bill finally PASSES in Scottish Parliament

In January, we introduced free bus travel for everyone under 22. This has been a big success, with over 540,000 young people taking more than 34 million journeys. It has helped household budgets while opening up the country for young people and their families and reducing pollution.

Since then, we have expanded the criteria for the Scottish Child Payment and increased it to £25 a week and introduced plans to ensure that all Scottish Government contracts will pay at least the living wage.

On top of this, we have introduced an emergency rent freeze and protections against eviction. The freeze, which began in October, will last until at least April, with longer-term reform of renting in the pipeline too.

We have raised the ambition level for our environment, with £1.8 billion for warmer homes and buildings, a ban on new incinerators and record investment in wildlife, nature and infrastructure for walking, wheeling and cycling.

These are all big changes of the sort that all countries need to make if we are to have any kind of sustainable future.

Despite the huge constraints we are working under, they show how we are leading the UK. Time after time, we have taken a very different approach to that of Westminster.

At the same time as we have been changing Scotland for the better, the UK Government has fallen into chaos and stumbled from one self-inflicted crisis to another.

Over the course of 2022, we have seen the end of the shameful reign of Boris Johnson. Unfortunately, he didn’t leave until he’d had plenty of time to do serious damage.

His tenure was characterised by lies, mistruths, misdemeanours and an utterly reckless and xenophobic Brexit that has stripped people of their freedoms, hiked prices and punished small businesses all across Scotland and beyond.

READ MORE: EU and UN welcome passing of gender reform bill in Scottish Parliament

After Johnson, we had the self-destructive rule of Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng. Though they imploded after a matter of days, they managed to inflict economic calamity that will be with us for years to come. This libertarian spasm from the Tories failed even on its own terms, but it’s everyone else who will carry the cost of their wreckage.

As Number 10’s revolving door went around again, Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt tried to drag us back to 2010, with austerity 2.0 and the same diet of cuts as Cameron and Osborne. Only this time the impact is even worse as it follows 12 years of misrule and failure.

None of them have acknowledged the ruinous Brexit, the racism of the hostile environment against migrant communities, or the politics of division that had been so central to successive Tory governments. They have signed up to the same anti-climate agenda, supporting over 100 new oil and gas exploration licences and even allowing the first coal mine in 30 years at a time when all countries are supposed to be cutting emissions.

People in Scotland voted for none of this. And Labour seem to have lost any interest in challenging the worst of it.

READ MORE: Alister Jack threatens to block Royal Assent of gender reforms

There is no doubt that the year ahead will be a difficult one. The cost crisis is likely to continue for as long as the same people continue to make the same decisions and follow the same failed policies. But that won’t stop us from doing everything we can to continue mitigating the impacts and protecting Scotland from their decisions.

Despite the bleak economic backdrop, last week’s Scottish Budget presented a bold and ambitious vision, with £2.2 billion worth of climate investment and an end to peak rail fares, saving hundreds of pounds for families and commuters all over Scotland.

However, the last year has also underlined the severe restrictions of the current constitutional settlement. If we keep doing all that we can to push devolution to its limit, we will continue to earn the trust of people and win their support for Scotland to go further and take our destiny into our own hands.

Far too many people across Scotland will go to bed cold and hungry tonight, and deeply worried about the future. Those are the people we are working for every day, and we will continue to show how independence will work for them too.