THE extraordinary climate activism we’ve seen over recent months has been truly inspirational and Scottish Greens are proud to have stood with campaigners, young and old, pressuring the Government to do more. Now that the First Minister has finally declared a “climate emergency”, our focus must shift to the urgent new action the emergency demands.

The Government has taken a first step in accepting the 2045 “net zero” date proposed by the official advisory body, the UK Climate Change Committee (UKCCC). That’s not as ambitious as Greens had called for, and we’re still concerned that the UKCCC has a cautious, conservative approach. But it’s to the huge credit of young climate strikers and many others that the Government has accepted the need to move on from its existing targets.

We must now plan quickly for the changes which must happen, at massive scale, within a very short timeframe if the targets are to be met.

Climate scientists warn that we have just over 10 years to radically reduce emissions and avoid catastrophic warming. There is zero time for complacency.

Greens want to see a serious and comprehensive response to the climate emergency that lays out plans to deliver immediate emission reductions and a “Green New Deal” for Scotland, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and ensuring no-one is left behind.

That means action across a whole range of sectors, but especially in those where progress so far has not been good enough, such as in transport, in food, farming and land use, and in how we heat our homes and buildings.

On transport, emissions are heading in the wrong direction. The Government looks set to miss its target of 10% of trips made by bike by 2020, with current levels at just 1%. We need to see a complete overhaul of transport policy, with a massive refocus of resource towards public transport and active travel. The Transport Bill currently working its way through Parliament is an opportunity to take immediate action.

It’s also clear the Government is close to ditching its plan to cut Air Passenger Duty, which would disproportionately benefit the richest and risks starving public transport of vital investment. The policy has always been harmful and unnecessary, and now it simply needs to go.

Transforming how we heat our homes will be a bigger challenge.

I recently visited a district heating firm and a heat pump manufacturer in Glasgow. Both are using established technologies, which are common in other European countries and could be used much more widely here, with serious jobs potential, but they’re being frustrated by a lack of joined-up thinking. The UKCCC has said there’s “no serious plan” in place and that this must be an urgent priority for both the Scottish and UK governments. Leaving this to individual consumer choices would be guaranteed to fail, especially in cities where flats and tenements, and all dense communities, need to be treated on a collective scale.

That point about the limits of individual action needs to be clearly understood. There are still people who place all the responsibility for “going green” onto individuals, and who kid themselves that free market ideas will provide solutions to the social and environmental crises that capitalism has created. This cannot and will not happen. The scale of the transformation required won’t be brought about without the power of the state, and won’t be accepted without public participation in the choices our whole society must make together.

So these are clear, immediate priorities that the Government must act on. We must change our energy and transport systems, how we manage our land and produce our food. We must reforest and restore our natural environment. We must create both rural and urban economies, which support quality jobs within environmental limits. And as we do all this and more we must ensure everyone can contribute to this agenda, and everyone gains a fair share of the benefits rather than feeling it’s being done to them for the benefit of others.

This is what a Green New Deal means. Not just an environmental policy agenda, but a new political and economic settlement that would use the powers available now to Scotland – and the future powers independence will bring – to cut emissions and create quality, lasting jobs in a sustainable and equal economy. Last week both the SNP and Labour voted for this idea. We now need to make it a reality.

The creative energy of the climate activists can be turned into a programme that delivers hope for the future. Corporate lobbyists will try to limit the ambition to protect the economic model that serves them well. But climate leadership means redefining political leadership, starting on a school picket line and ending with a new economy that can let us face the future together.