Recently, as I've read the newspapers and scanned social media, I've seen signs of a green backlash. There are those who want to see any net zero or environmental policy stopped in its tracks. Whether it’s deposit return, highly protected marine areas (HPMAs), a speedy transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, all are under fire. And not just in a bid to iron out flaws in the policies. The desire, all too often, seems to be to stop them dead.

Over this leadership contest, it seemed that many were also keen to see the Scottish Greens ousted from power - Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater out of their ministerial roles, and the Bute House Agreement ripped up - as if this would relieve us of the inconvenient problem of climate and pollution.  

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But we continue to need a strong Green voice. And at least that seems more likely with Humza Yousaf as newly-elected, albeit by a shaky margin, SNP leader and First Minister.

The policies delineated in the Bute House agreement – enhanced marine protection, investment in active travel, support for the marine renewables and offshore wind sectors, a just transition fund for the North East – are vital steps towards preserving an inhabitable world for generations to come. But, you would think, the way some talk, that they are frivolous schemes, chiefly engineered to damage business and reduce personal freedoms.

We may have left behind the era of climate denialism, but we do have a new wave of kickback, a new kind of denialism, against net zero and other policies, charged by culture war and with policies weaponised in the independence debate.  As a result, what we have heard throughout this leadership race is not answers to the climate change problem, but reasons why the current policies are wrong and should be scrapped. The noise around the detail of environmental policy too often has drowned out the ‘why’.

READ MORE: Sturgeon forged climate ambition – will her successor realise it?

READ MORE: We must not delay protecting Scotland's marine life

It’s not that criticisms of individual policies aren’t valid or that discussion and consultation around them isn’t needed - it is. And Yousaf is faced now with the challenge of bringing forward policy without stifling proper debate.

I've been saddened to see how green policies, and their flaws, get appropriated in the intense debate over independence. But even outside of Scotland, green policies are being drawn into what we might call a culture war that chiefly revolves around the idea of personal and corporate freedom.

What worries me, though is that some of the calls for delay seem to trivialise this important endeavour of securing a safe environment for future generations, as if it were some unnecessary indulgence that we can just put off, in this period of struggle, for times of economic bounty. They forget to mention, for instance, the mindboggling scale of our plastic waste problem, that, as Marine Conservation Society announced last week, drinks-related litter was found in 95 percent of their beach cleans

Many criticisms seem like propaganda or hyperbole. We are told for instance, by those with vested interests or political skin in the game, that that HPMAs "lacked ecological justification". We are told by others that there is no evidence that low-traffic neighbourhoods work. We hear that 15-minute-neighbourhoods are a form of climate lockdown. But, if we are looking for policies with evidence behind them, these have it.

The rejunvenation of the Lamlash Bay no-take zone is evidence that high-level marine protection is effective in bringing back sea life. And, if you accept that we need to reduce car use for the sake of the climate and human wellbeing, then a study ranking the 12 most effective measures used in European Cities supports limited traffic zones, which come third.

Forbes's failure in the leadership race comes as some relief, since, though she said climate change was a priority, she appeared to be against most green policies – promising to scrap the HPMA proposals and replace them with a feasibility study, to pause the deposit return scheme, and opposing the accelerated transition out of oil and gas.

With her as a leader we were most likely to see the Greens out of power.

READ MORE: SNP leadership oil chat is throwback – and dangerous

Those against green policies have loud voices - and they know how people fear change and loss of freedoms. They channel that fear, whether it be that we will not be able to swim in our seas, drive along our own roads or leave our 15-minute neighbourhoods. They exaggerate the human loss and omit the environmental losses.

But the other thing worth mentioning is that change is coming whether we like it or not. It’s coming globally, on a wind of carbon emissions and plastic pollution. It brings with it sea-level rises, increased extreme weather events, drought, displacement. 

I hope Yousaf will do his bit to quell that change, and put the same kind of ambition behind climate that Nicola Sturgeon did - if not more.