Patrick Harvie is wrong when he claims that older people don’t care about the climate

But here we are again, following a seemingly casual comment from Patrick Harvie, who said in an interview about MSP Fergus Ewing: “He represents a generation that just hasn’t progressed and hasn’t come to terms with reality.” The climate emergency requires of all of us together.”

I’ve never liked how generational politics divides us, preventing us from making allies where we otherwise would, causing us to perceive enemies where there are none, allowing us to quickly profile and identify a person as Estimate ham or snowflake.

Still, I can understand the many reasons Patrick Harvie would have wanted to denounce Fergus Ewing and his approach to climate. The 65-year-old backbencher, a member of SNP royalty and a former cabinet secretary for rural economics, recently described Harvie’s party as “extreme left-wing extremists who should never come anywhere near government”.

In recent months, Ewing has joined the no-confidence vote against Green Secretary Lorna Slater and demonstratively ripped up the government’s HPMA consultation, declaring it an “execution of a notice” and saying it should be, along with “the advertising ban and bail return” go to the trash.”

He treated the deposit return system like his own pet to play with, a trophy hunt on the side. Yesterday he urged Scottish ministers to drop their plans to require rural households to replace their fossil-fuel boilers with heat pumps from 2025. It seems there is no greenish policy that he finds acceptable.

He also supported the development of the Rosebank oil field and said that we will continue to depend on oil and gas for years to come, dismissing the same old statement we heard from Rishi Sunak – that our oil and gas is less intense than any other oil and gas.

Still, I would hate it if he used it as an excuse for young people to pretend to be past 65. Please. We really don’t need this. Not at a time when we should remember what we share between generations and use that connection to move forward.

Of course, you can’t blame Harvie for drawing the generation card. The history of our time has already been written as a story in which the angry young rose up to pressure the old boomers, with Greta Thunberg as their mascot. However, it is not clear what he meant by ‘generation’ – what age he was referring to, for example, and whether the word was used in a broader sense.

A spokesman for the Scottish Greens yesterday made clear the intention was more general, saying: “This is the biggest environmental crisis we will ever face, so we need people of all ages, young and old, to do their part.” That is not age related, but a fact that we certainly all need to agree on.”

READ MORE: SNP MP Fergus Ewing slams Greens as ‘wine bar revolutionaries’

READ MORE Age Scotland slams Patrick Harvie over climate comments

I have long felt that the intergenerational cartoons surrounding climate do not reflect what I have observed. That’s not what I saw when the first climate strikers appeared before the Scottish Parliament and the first two children I met outside of Holyrood had parents and grandparents who had fought for the environment.

That’s not what I saw when interviewing key elders in the climate and environmental movement.

The baby boomer generation, now aged 57 to 75, includes Michael Mann, creator of the famous “Hockey Stick” graphic, Green MP Caroline Lucas, Al Gore, Christiana Figueres, the Costa Rican diplomat who founded the Parisian agreement, and others closer to home like former Friends of the Earth CEO Richard Dixon and Rob Edwards, environmental journalist and founder of The Ferret. All Boomers like Ewing.

There are even haunting Greta-like voices within the older, so-called “silent generation” of James Lovelock, James Hansen, Jane Goodall, Sylvia Earle and Mary Robinson.

There are now many young people who are not willing to accept the changes that will be necessary in the future and are happy to jump into fast fashion and pollute the world.

I worry about a phrase like this that it also plays into the kind of generational politics that portrays young people as idealistic, naïve fools and older people as conservative, stuck in the dirt, a binary idea that doesn’t work for everyone, including us inbetweeners , the Gen Xers.

I don’t think the real divide is age related; it’s ideological. It’s a divide between those who believe that technology and economic growth will get us out of there; and those who think we need to try something else given the scale of the problem.

It’s clear that Fergus Ewing champions the economy and the livelihoods of farmers, the food industry, fishermen and others, but his commitment to the environment always comes across as half-hearted. His mere references to climate and net zero suggest, he says, something ideological, a kind of blind faith that everything will work out.

If Ewing would just pause on some green measures I’d understand, but it’s his all-out attack that makes me feel like he’s part of a general backlash, part of an emerging stance that’s just a few notches down the leader of Net Zero lies skeptical.

That’s not a trait of the over 65s – it’s just a trait of some people of different ages. Let’s not let a few years or even a few decades lie between us.

Grace Reader

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