ON Saturday, the Common Weal think tank – led by Robin McAlpine, probably the last human to know everything about everything – unveiled its detailed blueprint for tacking climate change and making Scotland carbon neutral within 25 years. Why yet another “green deal”, you might ask? Surely everyone claims to have one already, including (but not limited to) the SNP Government, the Labour Party, the incoming European Commission, Bernie Saunders and even what’s left of the Tory Cabinet.

Alas, there is a wide gap between the standard political rhetoric on climate change and the palpable lack of concrete action geared to save our biosphere from extinction. For instance, Ursula von der Leyen, the new EU Commission President, has declared that her number-one priority is to make Europe “the world’s first climate-neutral continent”. Yet in June, the European Council (the EU’s political leadership) happily vetoed the idea of setting a specific year date for achieving carbon neutrality.

Even in Scotland, where there is popular support for action on climate change, ambiguity rules the day. The SNP Government has courageously set the year 2045 for Scotland to be carbon net-zero. The plan is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2030, then 90% by 2040. Taken at face value, these are the most ambitious statutory targets in the world.

But these targets fly in the face of the SNP’s recent adoption of Andrew Wilson’s Growth Commission Report.

Andrew’s report boldly states that its “approach is to grow GDP”, doubling the growth rate to 2.5% by 2030 (assuming independence next year); then pushing it to 3.5 % in the 15 years after that. If indy Scotland succeeds in increasing growth in the next decade to 2.5% annually, by 2030 we will have an annual output circa 28% greater than now.

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Yet the SNP Government is simultaneously committed to cutting CO2 emissions by 75% during that same decade! And by the time we reach anticipated carbon neutrality in 2045, our total annual output will be running at more than twice its 2019 level.

Is it really possible to literally double our production – food, energy, transport, consumer goods, services – while eliminating CO2 and methane production? Can anyone in St Andrew’s House count?

I’m not suggesting for one instant that the SNP Government is not fully committed to carbon neutrality. But I am saying that we desperately need detailed thinking about how this can be achieved inside the designated timeframe. And that, folks, is exactly what the new Common Weal research tries to provide. Christened the Common Home Plan, it is the world’s first fully-costed proposal for how to implement not only carbon neutrality but eliminate other serious environmental threats.

As a member of the Common Weal board, I’m very excited by this initiative. I recognise our published plan is only a first step in trying to shift the domestic debate away from the cosily “desirable” to the urgently “doable”. Yet it is neither a stunt nor a PR postcard to the First Minister. Rather, it is a serious working document outlining measured, achievable and financially realistic priorities. We want a version of this plan put into action. I note that Labour’s Richard Leonard is now calling for a public plan to rebuild the Scottish economy – well, here it is Richard.

At the same time, I don’t think we can successfully alter the irrational economic system that is eating the planet simply via top-down, bureaucratic commandism. If there’s to be genuine “system change” to counter “climate change”, the impetus must come primarily from below. So the Common Home Plan is also about mobilising popular initiative by convincing the Scottish people that change is both credible and possible.

The Plan estimates that restructuring and retooling Scotland will cost circa £170 billion. That’s a crude order of magnitude, of course but, spread over a quarter of a century, it is eminently affordable. In other words, collective action to change the system and decarbonise the economy is well within reach – if we desire it.

Most of the proposed spending is aimed at a once-and-for-all upgrade of existing infrastructure, financed through public borrowing. The annual cost of repaying this will be around £5bn. There are obvious benefits along the way, including 100,000 new jobs and £4bn of new tax revenue.

What does the cash get spent on? Building district heating systems and insulating homes comes top of the list, to cut energy use exponentially. This is proven tech and we have wasted decades not implementing it. Next, the plan envisages replacing all non-renewable electricity generation. Very doable though the Common Home blueprint includes new hydrogen technology which is (in my view) still speculative. Nevertheless, with public ownership, energy production can be decarbonised quickly. We also need a national recharging and refuelling infrastructure for electric vehicles - doable. Finally comes a radical reform of agricultural production to shorten food supply chains and implement a new, rural-industrial strategy to create replacement jobs.

What are the downsides of the plan? It is thin on explaining the political mechanics needed to secure change. In one sense, that’s not the plan’s real job. The written plan per se is about delineating necessary economic tasks. Only after that comes the assembly of a popular coalition to implement these tasks.

But building this coalition requires a genuine political debate, not platitudes. So far, this debate is missing in Scotland. For instance, while the SNP Government is happy to set timetables, it fears to confront vested interests – oil companies, banks, agribusiness, fish farming – lest it splinters the broad front needed to win independence.

However, carbon neutrality can’t be achieved without threatening the profits of that one-fifth of the Scottish economy represented by big energy and petrochemical monopolies.

We can’t eliminate risks to the biosphere without taking on unsustainable agribusiness and fish farming, as opposed to the present Scottish Government plan of doubling their output. We can’t replace a resource guzzling economy without imposing social control over a corrupt banking system that makes its money from promoting consumer debt. Nor can we defeat these vested interests successfully without offering the workers in these industries secure alternative employment.

If the professional politicians are stymied, what then? We already have the experience of the Yes movement taking to the streets independently of the SNP leadership. This movement from below has to extend to embrace fighting climate change.

From this radical perspective, it is significant that Common Weal is leaving its normal “think tank” comfort zone to promote the formation of local chapters of SNP members to lobby for the adoption of its new Common House Plan.

The first, chaotic week of the General Election campaign has seen the big Unionist parties scrambling to project any coherent message.

But the longer the election goes on, the more the focus will shift from Brexit towards long-run issues, including the existential threat from climate change.

In Scotland, the only detailed climate plan on the table comes from Common Weal – which says a lot regarding the deficiencies of the existing parties. Perhaps this is proof we need a new kind of politics if we are to save the planet.