WHEN it comes to the issue of the environment, there are very few people who would deny just how much of a priority this issue is in 2023.

Indeed, the Scottish public are more or less united in agreement that Scotland should be on a journey to Net Zero carbon emissions over the coming decades.

How we get to Net Zero, and how quickly we get there, is still very much a live political debate.

On one side of the debate, you have those such as the Scottish Greens, who would quite happily shut down Scotland’s oil and gas sector within a month if they could, regardless of how many jobs this sacrifices or how much economic damage is caused.

For the likes of Scottish Green leader, Patrick Harvie, who recently refused to even condemn the actions of illegal climate activists, economic chaos is a small price to pay for reaching Net Zero a few years earlier.

On the other hand, you have the position shared by the vast majority of the Scottish public, who would view the prospect of sabotaging our economy, and creating bills running into the thousands for nearly every homeowner in the country, as an act of pointless self-sabotage.

This is why the recent announcements from Rishi Sunak should be welcomed. In his recent speech, the prime minister set out a more realistic and sustainable route to Net Zero, by delaying plans, such as the ban on petrol and diesel cars, or the deadline for households having to rip out their gas boilers.

While these plans will work for the whole of the UK, they are especially important for Scotland.

We are a nation in which many people depend on their cars, and any ban on petrol and diesel cars can only work if there are enough electric charging points across the country – especially in rural communities where public transport is still lacking.

Given the slow pace that these charging points are being rolled out at, largely due to the Scottish Government’s own sluggish pace on this issue, it only makes sense for the UK Government to allow more time for this to happen.

Of course, the SNP has predictably been criticising the prime minister’s new proposals. However, this position would have more credibility if Rishi Sunak’s plans weren’t every bit as ambitious as those set out by the EU, which the SNP normally wants to emulate as closely as possible.

I am entirely supportive of ambitions to work towards a genuinely sustainable future for Scotland and the whole of the UK.

The climate is becoming a key priority for nations across the planet, and it is only right that Scotland, as part of the UK, attempts to lead the way on this.

Together with the vast majority of the Scottish public, I recognise that the journey to Net Zero must be one which protects our jobs, our economy, and our livelihoods.

This is precisely the approach that Rishi Sunak is taking on this issue – and it is time that Humza Yousaf dropped his grandstanding and did the same.