Green MSP, Ross Greer, has claimed that the earth has, at best, five years in order to reverse climate change before it is too late for our fragile planet.
Speaking following the Scottish Green’s spring conference in Greenock on March 17th, Mr Greer said: “We are incredibly close to the tipping point where it does become too late to stop the climate crisis. The best estimates I’ve seen are that we probably have 3-4 years, you can maybe round that up to 5, before the climate crisis becomes fundamentally irreversible.”
The apocalyptic scenario outlined by Scotland’s youngest MSP is backed by many climate scientists who have come to the conclusion that time is running out for the planet we all call home and, as French President, Emmanuel Macron, stated during a recent speech at the U.S Congress: “There is no planet B”.
“We’re at the point of feedback loops”, said Ross, “where, for example, melting sea ice causes more melting sea ice because that cold water lands on hot water, pushes the hot water under the rest of the ice – it melts more ice, or where a warming atmosphere melts permafrost, that permafrost raises trapped C02 which warms the atmosphere more which melts more permafrost. So we create these incredibly destructive cycles. We are capable of stopping this. We have a very short space of time and it requires fundamental transformational change but we are still capable of doing it.”
In order to do this though, the “fundamental transformational change” that Ross calls for, requires an international response. With controversial U.S President, Donald Trump, withdrawing the Americans from the Paris climate change agreement in June of last year, the outlook appears bleak.
Ross, however, is not as fatalistic as his blunt honesty on the subject may suggest. He said: “The Paris accord was a huge step forward. They didn’t in themselves stop this and, if fully implemented, Paris wouldn’t quite stop this crisis but it would go a long way.” He went on to describe how the only hope for the planet would be, in his view, to begin disempowering “the companies that have destroyed the planet” and work towards a swift and sweeping global solution before it is too late.
A member of the Green party since the age of 15, and of the Scottish parliament from the age of 21, Ross has made a name for himself as a forthright campaigner in the Holyrood parliament on issues that might not otherwise have been addressed. Climate change is not the only thing on which Ross is courageous and unabashed in his honesty. His views on Scottish independence have been well known since he quit university to work full-time for the ‘Yes Scotland’ campaign in December 2012, but he is under no illusions as to the problems facing the prospect of an ‘indyref2’ any time soon.
“The single biggest barrier to us getting a referendum is not the political judgements of those who want a referendum. It’s not a matter of ‘we should only call one when we’ll win’. It’s that the constitutional reality of the U.K at the moment means that we need the permission of the U.K government if we are to have an effective and legally binding referendum.”
In a question and answer session on stage at The Beacon theatre he publically joked that he “didn’t particularly want to end up in exile in Iceland” for his part in a potentially illegal referendum, but his views on independence have not changed.
He said: “I have never stopped believing, since I came to the conclusion that Scotland should be independent, that we would eventually be independent. We’re in a situation at the moment where Brexit has fundamentally changed the terms of the debate. We have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the core argument for Scottish independence is the democratic deficit. Our ability to govern ourselves has never been more urgent. The Brexit result showed, in the most fundamental way, that Scotland can vote for something and get the opposite of it. We are going to be harmed by the result of this, despite the fact that we didn’t vote for it.”
The Scottish Greens see a strong EU as essential to help tackle the global challenges we now face. To that end they used their conference on the 17th of March to sign up to ‘The Greenock Agreement’ published in full in The National the same day. It states that ‘If we are indeed taken out of the European Union, we will immediately begin, with the support of our European Green family, the campaign for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to re-join.’
This will be of scant use, however, to a planet that is doomed to destruction should the issues of man-made climate change not be resolved in the immediate future. Fortunately, Ross Greer remains optimistic.
He said: “We tackle the nature of the global capitalist economy that created it in the first place. That’s how we stop climate change. We don’t have much time but we shouldn’t, in any circumstance, despair because what have we got to lose?