Patrick Harvie has signalled he could step down as Scottish Greens co-leader if his party votes to exit the Scottish Government next month.

The Glasgow MSP, who is a junior minister in the Scottish Government, indicated that his 16 years at the helm of the party could be over if members back leaving the Bute House Agreement.

He told the BBC this morning the extraordinary general meeting where the vote will be held will take place in late May. More than 130 members demanded one last week, according to one group in the party.

Grassroots activists were furious last week after Cabinet Secretary for net zero Mairi McAllan announced she is scrapping the administration's goal of reducing emissions by 75% by 2030.

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Scottish Greens activists were also angered last week by the announcement, revealed last Thursday as well, that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is to pause the use of puberty blockers to new patients under 18 with gender dysphoria at the Sandyford clinic in Glasgow. 

Supporters say the treatment - only given to a very small number of patients - is potentially life saving for some young people faced with changes to their body and point out the medicine will still be available privately.

Mr Harvie and party co-leader co-leader Lorna Slater will be arguing at the EGM for members to back remaining in the Scottish Government under the arrangement made in the Bute House Agreement in August 2021 arguing that doing so is the most effective way of ensuring bold action to tackle climate change.

The Herald: Scottish Greens co-leaders Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie on the steps of Bute House in August 2021 when the co-operation agreement between their party and the SNP was signed.   Photo PA.

He was asked on BBC Scotland's Sunday Show, whether his leadership was "on the line" if the vote didn't go the way he wanted.

Mr Harvie replied: "I mean, I think that's a very obvious question, but it's probably the least important question..'what's the future of Patrick Harvie ?'

"This is about what's the future of climate policy, and the Greens have a decision to make."

Earlier in the same interview this morning, Mr Harvie said he didn't know how members would vote in what he described as "the most important decision" that his party had faced.

He added: “This is a moment that is critical for the future of climate policy in Scotland, which is, you know, the reason Greens are in politics in the first place.

“It’s critical to the future of our party as well, and over the next few weeks we have probably the most important decision to make that we’ve ever had to make about the future of our party.

“And I want to make sure that we’re all listening to each other and making sure that we genuinely understand and share, not just the sense of urgency and the deep disappointment and anger about the fact that Scotland is not on track at the moment, but a focus and determination on action.

“And my worry is that, if we if we walked away at this point, we would decelerate the climate action, we would see the hand strengthened of the likes of Fergus Ewing, backbencher in the SNP now, who’s constantly popping up and having a go at environmental policy and urging the Government to slow down.”

Mr Ewing is a long serving SNP MSP and former rural affairs secretary who has repeatedly called for the SNP to leave the BHA arguing the alliance with the Greens has been damaging to his party.
He has been highly critical of the Greens and was a prominent opponent of the recycling policy, the deposit return scheme, as well as plans to expand highly protected marine areas off Scottish coastal which proposed greater restrictions on fishing. Both policies are currently shelved.

Mr Harvie cited achievements including rent controls, scrapping peak-time rail fares, and free bus travel for young people.

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"My instinct is that we will achieve far more by staying in government, not only in terms of good climate policy [but] a whole host of other policies," he said.

"We've just introduced the housing bill with a long term package of rent controls for Scotland. That was one of our members top priorities when we sat down and asked them what should be in a cooperation agreement if we enter government. We're just about to deliver that. 

"There's a whole host of other work that we need to continue to accelerate, but I don't just want our members to think yeah, grudgingly on balance we'll probably do more good by staying. I want them to feel enthusiastic. I want them to feel reassured that not only the Greens and the Scottish Government, but Scotland is on the right track here and we clearly have more to do to persuade them."

Mr Harvie was asked about the future stability of the Scottish Government if the Greens pulled out of the BHA.

The Herald: File photo dated 04/06/15 of Fergus Ewing, Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism, who will chair the Scottish steel taskforce which aims to rescue the country's last two major steelworks, as they meet for the first time today. PRESS ASSOCIATION

He said the Greens would continue to adopt a constructive approach when asked about claims whether the government could collapse if it didn't get its budget passed next year.

"While I'm sure there are some people who would think that kind of more chaos is just something to be gleeful about, Greens have always, ever since the first Scottish Parliament way back in 99, Greens have always tried to do politics by bringing forward constructive positive ideas, showing how change can be made to work for people, working constructively, where we can and pushing others out of the comfort zone. 

"So you think you would think I would like to think that even even if if this debate didn't go the way I would prefer, I would like to think that would still be the case," he said.

In her statement to Holyrood on Thursday scrapping the 2030 climate target, Ms McAllan set out "new package of climate action measures", including the setting up of a climate assembly, development of a new national integrated ticketing system for public transport and a trebling the number of charging points available for electric vehicles, in a bid to encourage more people to switch away from petrol and diesel cars.

The Scottish Government is hoping the new package of environmental measures will be enough to persuade Green activists to back their party remaining in the BHA.

Ms McAllan said the 2045 target to reach net zero would remain. In an interview later she  insisted she was "not embarrassed" by the decision - despite green campaigners branding the move the “worst environmental decision in the history” of devolution.

Responding to Mr Harvie's interview, Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy MSP said: “In typical Scottish Green fashion, Patrick Harvie takes no accountability for his party’s shameful record in government.

“Both he and Lorna Slater have spent the last three years pitifully trading environmentalism for nationalism to the fury of their members who now want out of this toxically incompetent coalition.

“Humza Yousaf is so weak that he has lost any authority he had and even after the disaster they've been in government, it's still the Greens calling the shots.

“If Humza Yousaf had any backbone, he would be pulling the plug himself on this shambolic deal which is harming Scotland’s economy and jeopardising our oil and gas industry. 

“Instead, he is at the mercy of the Green vote and the coalition of chaos he inherited from Nicola Sturgeon is now hanging by a thread.”