Patrick Harvie says environmentalists owe debt to Prince Philip

Environmental activists of today do not seek to reconcile conservation with “blood sports” like hunting, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said during a Scottish Parliament tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh.

Harvie was speaking as Holyrood was recalled to show respect to Prince Philip, who died on Friday at the age of 99.

He praised Philip’s environmentalism, but stressed the difference between the duke and current campaigners.

Harvie, an ardent republican, also pointed out the contrast of the deaths of almost 130,000 people in the UK to have died from Covid-19 in the past year and the mourning for Philip.

The duke was an early proponent of environmentalism, warning of the dangers of plastic in a speech in the 1960s – as referenced by Nicola Sturgeon during the same session on Monday.

But he was also a fan of hunting and shooting – which most environmental activists oppose.

Harvie said: “Those who come after will build on the legacy of what they’ve been left, but will also rethink, reinvent and alter course – they still owe much to those who went before, who may have lived by different values.”

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He added: “Today’s environmental movement overwhelmingly places responsibility for the global crisis on the powerful, and would not seek to reconcile conservation with the blood sport of the wealthy, yet it is still the case that a debt is owed to those whose environmentalism did achieve global awareness, even if it was shaped by different values from today’s.”

Harvie said his party “reflected carefully” on its involvement in the proceedings on Monday, or even if they would take part at all.

“Just as it would be wrong to give a performance of feelings not sincerely felt, it would equally be wrong to imply by our absence any kind of personal disrespect to those who have lost someone important to them, whether personally or otherwise.”

The Greens co-leader continued: “This has been a year of terrible loss for the world, including up to 150,000 Covid deaths across the UK, most of them announced without ceremony as daily statistics.

“The toll has been heaviest on those with the least, but while there is no great leveller on how we live our lives, we are today reminded that there is no extreme of wealth, privilege or status which can protect us from mortality.

“Regardless of our different views, respect and compassion are due in equal measure to every one of us at such times.”

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