The axing by First Minister Humza Yousaf of the Bute House Agreement saw the abrupt ending of the first episode of a Green party in government in the UK.

As the political fall-out is debated, it's worth examining how effective the party was in power, and to what degree its impact has been greater than when in opposition.

What did the Greens achieve on the climate and environmental policies which matter to so many of their voters? And to what degree were the pacts made in the Bute House Agreement seen through?

It would be  impossible to calculate how many emissions were saved by having the Scottish Greens in power, particularly since some of these policies were SNP manifesto policies anyway: a circular economy bill, a just transition strategy, even the long-planned implementation, said the SNP 2021 manifesto, of  “our ambitious deposit return scheme”.

But without a doubt the party set a greener tone, amplified environmental issues and also became the focus of backlash over all things green and climate-related.

One way of seeing the party's impact, is by looking at the progress made, during their time in power-share, the Scottish Government of the promises  in the Green 2021 manifesto and the Bute House Agreement. Here are just a few. 

The Herald:

75% by 2030

The beginning of the end for the Bute House Agreement came when SNP net zero secretary, Màiri McAllan announced the dropping of a key target of 75% emissions by 2030. That target, which was, in 2019, integrated into Scotland’s ambitious Climate Act, was one the Greens had pushed for. It also appeared in the Bute House Agreement as a clear statement of intent. That it was dropped was not so much a sign of weakened ambition, but of the failures of recent years. As Chris Stark, chief executive  of the UK Climate Change Committee said last week, speaking at a Holyrood Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee, a nine-fold increase in decarbonisation would have been needed to reach that legal target and it was "beyond credible".

For many members of the Scottish Greens this was too significant a climb down,  enough for a vote to be demanded on whether to quit the powershare – one, which, following Yousaf’s decision, was not ultimately needed.

Deposit Return Scheme

Deposit Return was in the pipeline before the Scottish Greens began power-sharing in government. When they took up the agreement,  the bill, already delayed, became a high-profile green policy, with Lorna Slater, Circular Economy Minister at the helm. It evolved into  both a practical and political fiasco, ultimately derailed, at least in part by UK Government interference, and Slater was the target of much grievance.

Could it have been any different? Might another Scottish Government have implemented a more successful scheme, pushing it over the line earlier? It looks unlikely. The UK Government has now delayed its own deposit return scheme, kicking the unrecycled can further down the road for both Scotland and England. 

The Herald:

Free bus travel for under 22s

A feel good policy that the Scottish Greens can celebrate, though not everyone agreed that this was where the £249,513,826 (as of March) funding should go.

Circular Economy Bill

A circular economy bill was in the SNP 2021 manifesto. Again this became Lorna Slater's brief as Minister for Circular Economy. When recently presented at parliament, some critics said it didn’t go far enough and failed to tackle overconsumption, or create a true circular economy. Others called it a recycling bill, even a littering bill. The finance committee questioned the credibility of its costings. But it remains the start of a vital revolution, an answer to the twin problems of waste and resource consumption.

Heat in Buildings

The decarbonisation of Scotland’s heating is a key element in meeting Scotland’s now-dropped 2030 target, and in 2021, Patrick Harvie set an ambitious target of decarbonising 1 million homes  by 2030. But by the end of last year, he had admitted that goal was not possible.

Controversies have surrounded elements of the strategy. The near-banning of wood-burning stoves from new builds (as part of rules stipulating that all new-builds use zero emissions heating) caused a backlash, particularly from those living rurally. But in many ways, ‘heat in buildings’ was the jewel in the Scottish Green crown, a bill that some said might show the way for the rest of the UK, and in an area that is crucial for emissions targets.

The Herald: Scottish Green party co-leader Partick Harvie during a visit to a new air-cooled data centre at Edinburg University's James Clerk Maxwell Building with Grant Ferguson, right, Director of Net Zero & Carbon leadership at the University. STY

Highly Protected Marine Areas

The acronym itself became akin to a profanity, synonymous with ‘the clearances again’, as coastal and fishing communities reacted to its restrictions. But the Scottish Greens can’t be entirely blamed either for the original idea or its failure. The concept of the plan was in the SNP manifesto, as it was in those of other parties. The Scottish Green Party manifesto, for instance, promised to “ensure at least 30% of our seas are protected, and a third of this area will be highly protected, which means fishing and other industries would be excluded”. Now, shelved, while a new marine protection plan is formed, this was no green triumph - or, in fact, triumph for anyone, except those who fought it off.

READ MORE: Explainer: What is Scotland's Bute House Agreement?

READ MORE: What next for Scot Gov after end of Bute House Agreement?

 Forging a Just Transition

Talk has been plenty about a Just Transition for workers who stand to be left behind by green energy, decarbonisation  land use changes, and that in itself is a progress the Scottish Greens have been part of. Included in the Bute House agreement, was a ten-year £500 million Just Transition Fund for the North East and Moray. But the transition was not looking entirely  positive when Ineos announced its planned closure of the Grangemouth oil refinery. The process was described by Professor Dave Reay, co-chair of the Just Transition Commissio, as "a litmus test of Just Transition" and one that  was "already turning red".

To designate a new National Park

The plan was in the Bute House Agreement and now the shortlist is up and running. In March it was announced that five areas in the Scottish Borders, Galloway, Lochaber, Loch Awe and Tay Forest, are in the running to be Scotland's next National Park.

The Wildlife Mangement and Muirburn Bill

Another key element in the Bute House Agreement, and one that has passed just a month before the abrupt  ending of the agreement. Scottish Greens rural affairs spokesperson, Ariane Burgess described it as a "momentous step forward for our landscapes and nature and in bringing Scotland's wildlife management into the 21st century".  

Active Travel funding

One of the goals within the Bute House Agreement  was to increase the proportion of Transport Scotland’s budget spent on Active Travel initiatives so that by 2024-25 “at least £320m or 10%” of the total transport budget would be allocated to active travel. That target is set to be missed by a full £100 million, with the budget this year increasing from just £189 million to £220 million for 2024/25. Meanwhile there was an increase in trunk road cash, up £210 million. 

That said, active travel cash has greatly increased in recent years, almost doubling since 21/22, and outstrips spending per person in England. A small win, perhaps.