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  • Writer's pictureFionnlagh McFarlane

It is our responsibility to ask for more, ask for it faster and drive change.

Good afternoon Conference.

It feels quite nerve-racking speaking for the first time in the hall (or my kitchen) and even more so to decide to speak against a motion as important as this one and in an area that I am incredibly passionate about.

But it is precisely because this issue is so huge, and so important that I felt it was my duty as a member to oppose it. Upon meeting young climate campaigners who had gone on strike from school our First Minister proudly said that they are right, and that we would live up to our responsibility to halt climate change. She said we would go ‘further, faster’.

So why am I, a committed signed up environmentalist opposing this motion?

Well, I believe as members it is our duty to constructively scrutinise our Party and push for better. I actually took a highlighter out and went through line by line this composite motion and found that roughly 4 out of 5 lines of it is acknowledging previous funding, celebrating previous achievements or recommitting to policies some of which are a number of years old. This means that just one fifth of the text is devoted to exploring new policy ideas.

I say thats not good enough. Time is running out to even spend a moment not searching, debating and exploring a way out of the climate crises and biodiversity emergency that we find ourselves in. It is not our duty as members to just clap through motions celebrating what has already happened. It is our responsibility to ask for more, ask for it faster and drive change. In the absence of being able to submit a remit back, im asking you as members to consider if this motion is ‘enough’.

There is not one thing in this motion with which I or probably anyone in this room would disagree. Lets be real - voting against it today won’t stop the few new fantastic ideas, but voting against the motion will send a message that we in the SNP respond to these crises by striving for innovation and new excellence, eyes ‘firmly ahead of us’ and will not settle for less.

Let me give you an example. Lines 51 - 55, Like the majority of the motion calls for nothing new but a continuation of current policy to aim to protect the sustainability of our inshore fishing and marine eco systems. Some members who know my campaigning from the past will probably be groaning and are aware that this is where im going to geek out a little but please indulge me!

These lines would be fine if we had established policies in Scotland that were working - however and unfortunately for singles like me the fact IS that there is no longer plenty more fish in the sea. The percentage of commercial species exploited, overexploited or collapsed has gone from 1% in 1950 to 63% in 2006. We assign Marine Protected Areas yet they are really protected in name only, with destructive or illegal fishing practices happening regularly - in some sad cases destroying hundred or even thousand year old reefs and maerl beds.

Only a few years ago myself and others had to fight tooth and nail to block a company from dredging native kelp Forrests. This highlights dangerous gaps in our strategy. Blindspots that we cannot afford. Status Quo is not enough and there is no shortage of new ideas! Our fraternal country Wales has not only resisted such schemes but has just finished planting an inspiring 1 million Sea Grass seeds, reforesting the ocean to capture record CO2 into the sea floor and boost nursery areas for the fish just like the ones that make Scotlands food culture so world famous.

We do ourselves a disservice with this motion. Im with Nicola. Lets go further, faster. Vote against to reiterate that message.


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