We all have a part to play in tackling climate change, and in preparation for May's Holyrood election, many political parties have put the environment at the top of their agenda.

With Glasgow playing host to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in November, Scotland will be centre-stage as representatives from across the globe gather to confront the most significant issues plaguing our planet today.

So what do the candidates hoping to be elected as the next MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley think, and what would they do to protect our environment?

We have asked them. 

Conservative's Sharon Dowey:

Ayr Advertiser:

Our natural environment is Scotland’s greatest asset, and we must do everything we can to protect and nurture it - so it can be enjoyed by future generations. But in recent decades we have experienced catastrophic loss of species and their habitats, accelerated by climate change.

That’s why the Scottish Conservatives will introduce an ambitious Nature Bill in the next Parliament, to strengthen environmental protections on land, in our rivers and at sea.

One in nine species in Scotland face extinction. Of 6,413 species, 11 per cent are classified as threatened with extinction.

Scottish breeding seabirds populations declined by 32 per cent between 1986 and 2017.

Under the SNP, 12 species of national conservation importance are at risk. Scottish Natural Heritage warned that eight species were at moderate risk, with four at serious risk - the Scottish wildcat, the Ash tree, the great-yellow bumblebee and the freshwater pearl mussel.

The SNP keep making grand promises to tackle the climate crisis - but time and again they miss targets and fail to deliver. A Scottish Parliament Committee says that detail is 'substantially lacking' in the SNP's climate plans.

The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party will put the environment at the heart of our plan to rebuild Scotland's communities.

The Scottish Conservative’s proposed Nature Bill will include the following key measures:

- Redeveloping derelict sites in the centre of large towns and cities as new parks for community benefit, as part of a new National Public Gardens Strategy. 

- Increasing tree planting to 18,000 hectares annually by 2024. Quality and biodiversity are also important, so we would increase the proportion of new planting that is of native species, while ensuring that Scotland’s forests are productive.

- In Galloway, creating Scotland’s third national park to protect the environment and encourage tourism. We would also consider proposals from other parts of Scotland.

The only way to stop an SNP majority again, and get the Scottish Parliament 100 per cent focused on rebuilding Scotland, is to vote Scottish Conservative & Unionist on your Party List ballot in May.

Lib Dem's Kirsten Herbst-Gray:

Ayr Advertiser:

Scotland is a beautiful country with many natural assets. Agriculture, forestry, and tourism make significant contributions to Scotland’s economy. Agriculture is vital to our rural communities, providing jobs and contributing to the rural economy.

Scottish Liberal Democrats have succeeded in securing £5million more for agricultural transition funding which rewards farmers and helps our climate change priorities. Climate-friendly farming is important for us all just as it is important to support our farmers who work hard day-in day-out to keep food in our shops and supermarkets – not only in times of emergency as seen in the pandemic.

Scottish Liberal Democrats respond to the climate emergency by proposing to cut food miles and valuing quality seasonal Scottish produce by supporting producers and processors in different ways. It is vital to work across the UK to prevent our markets being flooded with poor quality food that undercuts the goods we produce to high environmental and animal welfare standards. I believe that the next Scottish Government needs to deliver an agricultural plan to make sure active, family farmers and crofters are properly supported.

Rural areas need a government that will Put the Recovery first, create jobs in sustainable industries such as windfarms in Scotland and ensure that rural communities benefit from these projects.

Liberal Democrats across Scotland work hard in their communities – giving local people a voice. It is time for a change – vote to Put Recovery First with the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

SNP's Elena Whitham:

Ayr Advertiser:

I have been a committed climate change activist since taking a college course called Environmental Science back in 1992 in Canada where we already had weekly kerbside recycling collections in my town since I was in elementary school.

Fourteen years ago my husband and I were ahead of the times when we opened our shop Green People in Prestwick. We were the only Ayrshire stockists of refillable eco-friendly products and reusable sanitary products as we tried to tackle the climate emergency by changing consumer behaviours.

The SNP ensured Scotland was the first country in the UK to declare a climate emergency and we  have since passed legislation for the world’s most ambitious emissions reduction targets and we are world renowned for having underpinned our net zero targets with a legislative commitment to a Just Transition – ensuring no one is left behind.

The SNP have committed to a green recovery from COVID-19 and announced £62million investment in an Energy Transition Fund to help drive new skills and innovation. We are also using housing improvements and ambitions building plans to drive down fuel poverty and drive new technological solutions.

Cumnock will be at the forefront of this green revolution as the National Energy Research Demonstrator project is built to make it the first carbon neutral town propelling us onto the world’s stage.

The SNP has also led worldwide on biodiversity as we published the Edinburgh Declaration calling for increased action to tackle biodiversity loss and since 2012, the SNP has funded the restoration of over 25,000 hectares of degraded Scottish peatland and in 2019-20 we planted 22 million trees creating 11,050 hectares of new woodland and accounting for over 80 per cent of all new woodland creation across the UK.

We’ve also passed much needed legislation to establish an ambitious Deposit Return Scheme for Scotland – reducing waste and tackling greenhouse gas emissions by placing a value on discarded containers.

Scottish Labour's Carol Mochan:

Ayr Advertiser:

Everyone talks about the climate emergency but only Scottish Labour is prepared to give priority to the actions needed to tackle it. Labour’s plan for a Green Industrial Revolution aims to create 50,000 good sustainable jobs. We will invest in improved public transport and I will fight to have rail links reopened through Cumnock and Mauchline. Cumnock and Doon Valley has had to live with the economic legacy of the pit closures and the devastating aftermath to the environment of opencast mining. We deserve a climate recovery plan that will see zero emissions by 2045; energy efficient homes; up to thousands of pounds a year saved on heating bills; sustainable well paid jobs for our young people. We guarantee extending free bus travel to under 25s and interest free loans to people on low incomes to but electric cars. 

But climate change knows no borders. It requires international co-operation and that’s why the COP 26 planned for Glasgow in November is a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to lead by example. I want us to go away from COP 26 with a Glasgow Agreement that will mark the starting point of turning around the fight against climate change worldwide.