Green Party members have been appointed to government for the first time in the UK, it has been announced.

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed today that co-leaders of the Scottish Greens, Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, will become ministers following the approval of the historic Bute House agreement.

Harvie will be minister for zero carbon buildings, active travel and tenants’ rights, working with the housing secretary and net zero secretary.

His duties will include driving policy changes that shift Scotland away from reliance on high carbon modes of transport and heating and towards greener alternatives – essential as part of the push towards a net zero economy by 2045.

Ensuring fairness during that transformation will also be key, and Harvie will lead on delivering a new deal for tenants, and ensuring building standards are fit for purpose.

Slater will take on the role of minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity, working with the finance and economy secretary and net zero secretary.

She will drive a ‘green industrial strategy’, helping people access training and opportunities as part of a net zero Scotland, and ensuring our economy is supported through a just transition to net zero.

Supporting biodiversity and protecting our national parks and natural heritage will also form part of Slater’s role, working closely with NatureScot and Zero Waste Scotland and supporting the development of a circular economy that minimises the impact on the natural environment.

Sturgeon said: “This historic cooperation agreement is founded in a shared drive to work together in the Scottish Government to build a greener, fairer, independent Scotland.

“We have massive challenges to overcome: a global pandemic and its lasting effects, the climate emergency and the assault by the UK government on the powers of our parliament. Patrick and Lorna’s roles in government are rightly at the heart of facing up to them, and the expertise and passion they bring with them will contribute greatly to defining Scotland’s path forward in doing so.

“Although our parties do not agree on everything we have been able to compromise on both sides, find common ground and agree on areas where we can work together to build a better country.

“The world has had to adapt quickly to respond to the fast-paced and changing nature of the pandemic but what it has shown us is that we can put politics aside to tackle the challenges in front of us decisively and in a way that delivers. I look forward to working with my new Green Party colleagues in this new and ambitious way.”

Patrick Harvie, minister for zero carbon buildings, active travel and tenants’ rights, said: “We are at a crucial tipping point in terms of our relationship with the planet. I am thrilled at the opportunity to drive forward policies that enhance peoples’ lives while supporting the urgent goal of tackling the climate emergency as we emerge from the pandemic.”

Lorna Slater, minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity, said: “Any transition to net zero must be just, and my focus will be on delivering policies that support our workforce and wider economy through that change as well as ensuring our greener future is also a prosperous and fair one that benefits our natural environment.”