THE race to see which US Democrat will take on Donald Trump for the presidency has made for dramatic viewing. Not least because the climate crisis is being discussed with something approaching the urgency required, for the first time at the top of American politics.

The US election matters to all us. As one of the world’s biggest polluters – and one of the biggest barriers to effective global action – America’s direction over the critical next five years will likely play a deciding role in whether we reverse the climate breakdown before it reaches the tipping point and becomes simply unstoppable and irreversible.

Trump’s re-election would be a planetary catastrophe. He’s already walked away from the UN’s Paris climate agreement, his administration has ripped up standards on air and water quality and he gleefully removed restrictions on the big polluters. America’s emissions are going up.

When progressive Democrats in the US Congress put together a Green New Deal resolution, Bernie Sanders was the first presidential contender to back it. But more importantly, he didn’t stop at that ambitious but vague statement. Instead, Bernie Sanders and fellow presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren have published detailed climate action plans on a level of ambition never seen before in the US.

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Sanders’s proposal rips up the economic orthodoxy of American politics. It actually suggests the state should directly intervene, that vested corporate interests should be challenged and that decarbonising transport and energy can mean more jobs.

This chimes exactly with the Scottish Green New Deal proposals we published last summer, which would deliver 200,000-plus new jobs, provide warm homes and end fuel poverty.

But as Sanders points out, it needs the public sector in the driving seat. Government must act, not wait for corporate interests to warm to the idea. This is why we have pushed the SNP on issues such as BP and Heathrow sponsorship of their party conference, their huge road building budget and their refusal to take on the landowners’ grouse shooting lobby which unjustly holds on to huge swathes of Scotland.

The climate emergency requires an emergency response. There’s no way of addressing that urgency without rebuilding the public sector and taking on the private interests who have profited from creating a crisis.

Obviously, anything remotely resembling radical change in the United States is treated with contempt by a corporate media controlled by a handful of wealthy individuals, one of whom, Mike Bloomberg, is using his billions to insert himself into the Democratic primary.

“Socialist” was a dirty word in America and socialists were largely driven out of public life decades ago. With a socialist now the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination and hugely popular with independent voters though, that’s clearly no longer the case.

When socialism means ideas like the Green New Deal, either here or in the US, it’s no wonder that the term is finding a new generation of supporters. When the alternative is the status quo of disaster capitalism, quite literally killing our planet, the only real surprise might be that the barricades aren’t being assembled already.

The richest 1% of Americans have more wealth than the other 99% combined and a massive carbon footprint to go with it. It looks like many in the 99% have decided that enough is enough, that for both people and planet a political revolution is needed.

Whether it’s Trump (below) or Leave voters, those alienated by a rigged economic and political system can be won over to this promise of a better quality of life for everyone. Here in Scotland the Green New Deal can reach out to communities devastated by Thatcher’s destruction of heavy industries. It can also provide a compelling answer to those who don’t think the economics of independence add up and to those who reject the SNP’s growth commission for reheating everything that has failed about the last 40 years of neo-liberal capitalism.

The National:

Tackling the climate crisis and ending the scandal of gross inequality in our societies means confrontation. We need to confront the wealthy, powerful forces who built and benefit from the systems causing these crises.

We need to confront the oil and gas companies whose plans for continued extraction and burning long past 2050 would quite literally doom the planet.

We need to confront the corporate giants like Amazon who push their staff to breaking point, paying them as little as they can whilst raking in billions in profits.

And we need to confront their political enablers, in Washington, Westminster and Holyrood, who prevent effective action in the name of “economic stability”.

In America, a new movement is growing to confront these forces, a movement which might yet take its leader all the way to the White House. And here in Europe, the Green movement is growing too, with record election results across the continent.

We’ve got one shot left to keep the planet from reaching its tipping point. To do it we must defeat the vested interests standing in our way. This is a moment for political revolution.