Scottish Greens have a “bolder” vision for an independent Scotland than the SNP, Patrick Harvie has insisted.
The Scottish Green co-leader said his party wanted to create a “new, fairer, greener Scotland” and that “independence is only the first step” to this.
With the party hoping to return a record number of representatives to Holyrood after May’s Scottish Parliament election, Mr Harvie said every single Green MSP would support having another independence referendum in the next five years – once the coronavirus pandemic has subsided.
With polls now suggesting Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP may not win an overall majority at Holyrood, Mr Harvie said: “Scottish Green MSPs will be crucial in securing a majority for independence in May.
“But our vision for independence is bolder than the SNP’s. Independence is not our end game, we believe in creating a new, fairer, greener Scotland, and independence is only the first step.”
Mr Harvie told his party’s conference that the Greens rejected the “failed economics of the UK, that allows a tiny minority to hoard wealth while millions are plunged into poverty”.
Instead he insisted that Scotland could “play a huge role in efforts for peace and nuclear disarmament by leaving Nato and ridding our countries of weapons of mass destruction”.
In addition he said an independent Scotland could lead Europe in renewable energy and tackling the climate emergency.
He set out plans for his party to deliver a “Green group in Holyrood representing every part of Scotland, that will deliver a pro-independence majority and an uncompromising, bold and effective voice for climate action”.
The Scottish Government has so far only taken “baby steps” towards tackling climate change, Mr Harvie insisted.
The Green hit out: “We’ve seen the Scottish Government congratulate itself for eye-catching targets and then miss those targets. We’ve seen the Scottish Parliament declare a climate emergency, what we haven’t seen is an emergency response.
“Because it is clearer than ever that this is an emergency that deserves urgent and bold action.
“Our climate is breaking down in front of our eyes. As we emerge from the pandemic this unprecedented challenge must be at the heart of our plans for recovery.”
Mr Harvie argued that the coronavirus crisis had shown “both the need and the capacity for governments to act with urgency”.
He added: “The most effective countries acted quickly, decisively and prioritised collective wellbeing. The climate crisis is in this sense no different.”
The five years of the next Holyrood term is when decisive action must be taken, the Green insisted, saying choices over this period will determine “whether we step back from the brink and secure a green recovery from the pandemic, or whether we build back the old broken system that went before”.