Patrick Harvie has said that it would be “a mistake” for the Scottish Green party to walk away from the Bute House agreement. 

Leaving the power-sharing deal with the SNP  would, he said, “strengthen the hand of those in politics who would like to dilute, slow down and downgrade Scotland’s climate and social justice agendas”.

The Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings and co-leader of the Scottish Green party was speaking at the announcement, at the University of Edinburgh,  of the first seven projects to receive grants from the £20 million Public Sector Heat Decarbonisation Fund. 

The University of Edinburgh's funding will be used in a project to convert an existing heat network from running on gas to running on on waste heat from the on-campus data centre.

The £20 million funding backing  the University data centre project as well as other projects in Fife, North Lanarkshire, Dumfries & Galloway and Perth & Kinross, he said, reflected the “kind of priorities that green members set” when the Bute House agreement first formed.

“Our first task," he recalled, "when the possibility emerged of us going into government was to go to our members and say what are the priorities? Reducing emissions that had spent far too long flat-lining, whether that’s from heat, transport or land use were obviously very high.”

“Another,” he added, “was rent controls and we just introduced the housing bill that contains that proposition. I think it would be tragic to walk away from all that.”

The SNP-Green agreement has been at risk of collapse since  Scotland's net zero secretary announced, last week, that the Scottish Government was dropping a key climate target, of 75% emissions reduction by 2030. 

Members of the Green Party are set to vote on whether to continue being part of the Scottish Government. The date is not yet set, but it is said to be likely to be towards the end of May. 

If the Bute House agreement is dropped, Green Party co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater would be forced to quit their government roles, and the SNP would lose their working majority and have to form a minority government.

The Herald: Patrick Harvie announced funding of Edinburgh University data centre waste heat projectPatrick Harvie announced funding of Edinburgh University data centre waste heat project

Mr Harvie rejected the idea that his party might be more effective in opposition, saying that more could be achieved by working in government.

“I’m proud of the long track record that the Scottish greens have had of constructive opposition. That means putting forward good positive ideas and always trying to find the common ground and work together because you can achieve more that way."

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READ MORE: Edinburgh University data centre to power heat network

He added: “That’s the way we’ve done it in opposition, and as a coalition in government that’s the way we do it too. We’re getting far more done as part of the Scottish Government, for instance the introduction of the new Housing Bill , that brings in long-term rent controls, one of the highest priorities for our members when they shaped the Bute house agreement.”

“Our task,” he said, “is to accelerate the action of the heat in buildings programme. That’s what we’ve been doing and it would be a mistake to walk away.”

  • This article was amended on April 24 2024. The original version of this story stated that Patrick Harvie said it would be 'insane' to walk away from the Bute House agreement. This was a mistake and on checking our notes and reviewing our recording of the interview, Mr Harvie said it would be 'a mistake' to walk away from the agreement. We apologise to Mr Harvie and our readers for this error and for the confusion and inconvenience this has caused.