Patrick Harvie has confirmed he will quit as the Scottish Greens’ co-leader if party members vote to withdraw from the Bute House Agreement.

The minister said he shares the “distress” of some in his party over the Scottish Government dropping its 2030 climate target and pausing puberty blocker prescriptions at Scotland’s only gender clinic.

However, he argued that collapsing the power-sharing deal with the SNP would be a “mistake”, insisting the Greens should not be a party that quits when “things get difficult”.

Discussing whether he will stay if the Greens return to opposition, he said: “I genuinely don’t see how it would be realistic for me to carry on in that way in those circumstances.”

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His comments over his future leadership confirmed a hint he made on Sunday when 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 then: "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."

The Scottish Greens will decide towards the end of next month whether they will continue to support the Bute House agreement. Any decision made by the 7,000 Scottish Green members will be binding on its leaders, meaning that if the members vote against it, they will leave the government.

Mr Harvie and Lorna Slater, the co-leaders of the Scottish Green Party, entered government as junior ministers in August 2021 after the Bute House Agreement was signed.

Nicola Sturgeon, then first minister, appointed Mr Harvie as the minister for zero carbon buildings, active travel and tenants’ rights, while Ms Slater became the minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity.

The arrangement ensures that the government has a majority in parliament to pass legislation and to pass its budget. This is the first time the Greens have been part of any devolved administration in the UK.

It comes as the SNP’s coalition with the Scottish Greens is coming under increasing pressure from SNP backbenchers after Green ministers said they do not accept the full findings of the Cass review.

Dr Hilary Cass, a former president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said in her report on services in England that gender medicine was “built on shaky foundations”. Her findings are set to inform the future for transgender care in the rest of the UK but Scottish ministers have not yet made a commitment to implementing its findings.

The Scottish Green Party is shortly expected to confirm the date of its extraordinary general meeting, where members will vote on whether they should remain in the Bute House Agreement.

Should the Greens leave government many will believe they are “just a party that walks away when things get difficult”, Mr Harvie claimed.

Mr Harvie said on Sunday he didn't know how members would vote in what he described as "the most important decision" that his party had faced.

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.

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.

Asked by journalists if party members can expect new green policies ahead of the EGM, he said the issue of climate change goes beyond party politics and is a “critical” challenge for the world.

He said: “No-one is saying that what was announced last week is the end of the story, absolutely not.

“There’s more than 20 years to go to the net-zero target, it is achievable and we’re going to continue to accelerate.”

If the Greens leave Government many people will think they are “just a party that walks away when things get difficult”, he claimed.

He continued: “This has been a bit of a rollercoaster for the Greens, our first term in Government.

“It has meant that some party members perhaps feel that people serving as Government ministers might be less accessible, can’t share every detail of what’s happening within Government.

“That’s a cultural change the party has had to get used to.

“There’s issues about how we work together as a party that need to change as well.

“But this is not about bludgeoning people with an aggressive pitch.”