This week is Climate Week – a chance for all of us to reflect on what actions are being taken to prevent catastrophic climate change – and what more we all still need to do.
The issue of climate change is one which is quite rightly never far from the headlines. There is no escaping the effects of climate change - or its causes.
Of course, on a global scale, Scotland produces a relatively small amount of emissions. But the SNP government has always taken the attitude that not only does Scotland need to play our part in tackling it, but also that we can and should lead by example – we have the opportunity and a responsibility to show that making serious reductions in carbon emissions is achievable.
That’s why we set such tough statutory targets in our 2009 Climate Change Act – we committed not only to reduce our emissions by 80% by 2050 compared to the 1990 level, but also to achieve a 42% reduction by 2020.
The scale of that ambition meant that Scotland has been seen as a world leader in tackling climate change – a position which has been further underlined by the progress we’ve made since then.
In fact, we exceeded our target to reduce our emissions by 42% by 2020 six years ahead of schedule.
That's an achievement we should all be proud of, but we should see it as only the start. There's much more to do and we cannot afford to row back on our efforts.
Last week, the independent Committee on Climate Change published its annual Progress Report. There were a lot of positives in it. In particular, it recognised that we continue to outperform the UK as a whole – in fact we outperform all the other EU countries in Western Europe apart from Sweden.
But the Committee on Climate Change quite rightly points out the importance of doing more in areas such as transport, housing and agriculture - and it makes clear how challenging this will be.
We are determined to meet this challenge head on. That's why we will be publishing a new climate change plan this winter – which will detail the next steps in our transition to a successful low carbon economy.
And this will be underpinned by even more ambitious targets. We’ll be bringing forward a new bill which will legislate for a reduction in actual Scottish emissions by at least 50% by 2020.
And now that the USA and China have ratified the Paris Agreement, we will keep pressure on the UK Government to do likewise.
Scotland’s climate change secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, has already written to her Whitehall counterpart demanding ratification as soon as possible.
There is real concern that the UK government’s lack of urgency and the fallout from Brexit could delay ratification across the European Union. Let's hope all government's do the right thing.
But this is of course an issue that cannot be solved by governments alone. All of us – and I include myself in this - need to consider what steps we’re taking in our daily lives to reduce our energy use – both at home and in the workplace.
This may mean making difficult and sometimes controversial decisions.
However, we must also remember that with the challenges of adapting to a low carbon economy, there also come opportunities.
Last week I was in Nigg to launch the first phase of the MeyGen tidal stream power project. When it is fully installed, will have the capacity to power the equivalent of almost 200,000 homes across Scotland.
This is exactly the sort of world-leading technology which has the potential to satisfy Scotland’s future energy demands and create the economic growth we all want to see.
Unfortunately, MeyGen is being held back from moving into its second phase by the UK Government dithering on financial support for this exciting sector.
Compare this to the way in which they have so keenly committed exorbitant sums of money to a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point.
It’s important to remember that the renewable energy industry is not just a boost for Scotland’s rural areas – it is delivering for Glasgow too.
It generates jobs as well as electricity. The latest industry research tells us 2,000 people are employed by renewable energy companies in this city.
Glasgow is already known as the “dear green place”. That’s more true today than it has ever been - and I want to ensure we build on that reputation in the years ahead.