The Scottish Parliament’s newly elected presiding officer for the next five years, Alison Johnstone, has put the climate emergency at the top of Holyrood’s agenda.
Ms Johnstone was elected as a Green MSP last week and was put in the chair on Thursday by parliamentary colleagues to oversee Holyrood business.
Ms Johnstone made clear the environment and inequality should be tackled by the new intake of MSPs.
Scotland is hosting the global COP26 summit in Glasgow this November. It is seen as a major opportunity to get developed countries to take a greater lead in reversing environmental damage.
Elected unopposed, Ms Johnstone told the new group of politicians: “There are challenges ahead. We are, of course, in the midst of the nature and climate emergency, as well as the pandemic.
“We have to tackle them. Our young people have done such a fabulous job bringing this issue to life. They’ve helped ensure that we adults debate it properly on their behalf.
“We only have a few years to act and I think it’s really important that Scotland makes the most of the opportunity that COP26 will provide.”
Champion for a Scottish Parliament
Ms Johnstone, who now loses her party affiliation, was elected to look after parliamentary debates and represent MSPs by 97 votes to 28. She replaces Ken Macintosh.
A Lothian MSP, Ms Johnstone said she was part of the campaign for a Scottish Parliament in the late 1990s, before she joined the Greens.
She then got a job with Robin Harper, who was the first elected Green parliamentarian in the UK, taking a seat at Holyrood in 1999.
She is a qualified athletics coach and previously held the East of Scotland titles for the 800m and 1500m.
Fans First and Fracking
Some of her earlier campaigns as a parliamentarian included Fans First, a push for fan ownership of football clubs.
She also proposed a ban on fracking and campaigned against benefits sanctions in devolved employment schemes.
Ms Johnstone became co-leader of the Scottish Greens’ parliamentary party in 2019, though she has now been replaced by Lorna Slater.
“Here I have been afforded a great opportunity and an incredible privilege and one that I will never, ever take for granted,” she said.