For thirty successive years, Governments have built our economy around ever more deregulated markets.
This approach has rewarded the very rich, but it has also produced classic market failures, such as increasing inequality, a personal debt crisis and environmental threats.
My colleagues and I have a vision for the economy – one where finance is managed for society’s benefit, and where sustainability, prudence and community involvement are built-in. To this end I have campaigned to stop nationalised banks funding climate-busting projects at home and abroad.
Through the 2010 Budget, my colleagues and I persuaded Scottish Ministers to make two key changes, both of which will contribute to a greener economy. First, loft and cavity wall insulation will start to be made available free to everyone. Second, £10m of funding has been made available for wave and tidal power, which will help boost green energy jobs in Scotland.
These measures are just a start, and there is much more we can do, ways to help people save money while building better communities to live in.
In December 2009, the City of Edinburgh Council voted to close four Edinburgh primary schools.
Along with my Green colleagues on the City of Edinburgh Council, I opposed these closures. Put simply, those schools receiving pupils from the closed schools will struggle to accommodate them.
I’m not convinced by the Council’s figures, which suggest there are 8,600 surplus places in our primary schools, especially in the face of projected population growth of over 20% by 2020.
Future Councils may be faced with the task of finding funds to build additional schools they can’t afford to cope with overspill. This drive for short-term financial savings will have long-term negative impacts on education in our city.
We haven’t heard much in recent months regarding the City of Edinburgh Council’s commitment to build a new velodrome.
The flawed proposal to sell-off part of the existing Meadowbank Sports Centre to fund the building of a new mini-Meadowbank is now on-the-back-burner as development in the city has slowed.
As part of this proposal, the administration in Edinburgh is determined to demolish the existing velodrome. So what will happen to the many young riders who are showing the same promise as Chris Hoy and Craig MacLean?
Working with my Green colleagues on the City of Edinburgh Council, I have insisted that the current facility must remain until we have the alternative our cyclists need. Cycling should be supported and developed at both elite and recreational level.
In recent months, I have been working with local campaigners to secure the future of Hillend Ski Centre.
If we are to produce the next generation of Scottish Winter Olympians, then facilities such as Hillend are absolutely vital.
I have written to Scottish Ministers to request a meeting to urge them to do everything they can to help secure its future.
I understand that Councils across the country are having a tough time financially, but we cannot lose this incredibly important and popular national sporting asset. It is only right that it receives national support.
I recently helped to launch Greenworks, a new social enterprise creating Edinburgh’s first green building store and goods yard at Graham Street in Bonnington, Edinburgh.
Formerly a wood recycling project, Greenworks aims to become a green building material resource centre, where DIY-ers can buy reclaimed or re-designed materials such as whisky barrels, cable reels, window boxes and raised beds, take part in hands-on ‘build your own’ workshops, hire ‘bench space’ and tools to undertake their own renovation projects, or get advice on low carbon living including insulation and green roofs.
Greenworks can be contacted on: 0845 838 2440.
The Marine (Scotland) Bill was introduced last April, bringing in a new framework for planning, licensing and conservation in Scotland’s waters, as well as a new approach to seal management.
My colleagues and I submitted many amendments to the Bill that sought stronger environmental protection and increased community involvement in planning, all with a view to the role our seas can play in tackling climate change.
We were delighted to be able to argue successfully for a voice for sailors and surfers within the resulting Act, and to achieve commitments from the Scottish Government to tackle marine litter and provide guidance for better protection of whales and dolphins. However it was disappointing to find other MSPs reluctant to ban the shooting of seals when they are pregnant or nursing dependent pups.
From surfing and sailing, to fishing, renewable energy and transport, we ask a lot of our seas. My colleagues and I will continue to work to ensure that what is now the Marine (Scotland) Act helps us give back to the sea, by protecting it, and increasing its health.