WHEN Boris Johnson won the election in December, he promised to make the UK the “cleanest, greenest country on Earth”.

Pledging to honour his party’s manifesto commitment to become carbon neutral by 2050, the “People’s Government” – as he called it – would work through an ambitious raft of measures to improve energy efficiency and air quality and decarbonise transport.

So far, these targets seem to have consisted mainly of Twitter hashtags such as #BuildBackBetter for #SustainableRecovery with #unleashinginnovation peppering UK Government social media campaigns rather than any concrete progress.

Indeed, money earmarked for important decarbonisation projects, such as the announcement in February of a £3 billion investment in zero-carbon buses, seems to have disappeared into thin air.

In fact, recently at Business Questions at Westminster, I asked Jacob Rees-Mogg to explain why this large budget had not yet materialised in order to deal with the current looming threat to job losses and cuts in the bus transport industry across the UK. To borrow from Rees-Mogg’s lexicon of British phraseology, “poppycock” would be the kindest way to describe his reply.

READ MORE: Douglas Chapman: How devolution, Brexit, and independence are all linked

Now, I know Johnson has been busy this year mishandling the global pandemic, but his government has not been short on pledges to play its part in a sustainable response to clawing our way out of the current economic recession.

So, why is it sitting on this cash? It seems crazy when UK-wide resilience (another popular hashtag you’ll see online), could be bolstered by releasing these funds as planned.

A major investment in green transport would be the ideal opportunity to revitalise one sector of our domestic manufacturing industry, protect existing jobs and talent, and expand a ready and willing workforce. Green brownie points all round for the UK Government and some much needed positive headlines in the newspapers.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is working on a transport decarbonisation plan which is due to be released later this year. But later won’t cut it when redundancies are already lining up and there is a threat of further job losses in the transport sector across the UK. Urgent action is needed in the here and now, plus a clear outline of what is planned for this substantial £3bn.

SCOTLAND’S world-class bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis (ADL) announced a decision to axe 650 UK jobs, 160 of which are in the Falkirk area, as a response to the economic hit from Covid-19 and a massive downturn in orders for new buses.

Surely some of this large fund could be used to support one of Scotland’s most important players in the move to a green transport infrastructure with ADL’s impressive capacity to manufacture hydrogen powered and all-electric buses?

Sadly, ADL has stated there has been “no immediate visibility of the stimulus funding required to support operators to place orders”.

This inaction has the knock-on effect of uncertainty across bus suppliers such as ADL, and right through the supply chain to firms including Greenfold Systems in my constituency of Dunfermline and West Fife, who are left in limbo while they wait to hear more from the UK Government on this significant but elusive investment.

Despite the continuing squeeze on devolved budgets, the Scottish Government had made major leaps forward in its commitment to clean energy and transport.

Just days before the announcement on large job cuts was made by ADL, Scotland’s Transport Secretary Michael Matheson launched the new Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme.

This scheme will provide £9 million to help bus operators invest in ultra-low emission vehicles both as part of a Covid-19 green recovery drive and to improveair quality. Schemes of this sort are a vital part of the push for transport decarbonisation. Transport in Scotland is responsible for 36% of greenhouse gas emissions, making it the highest sector for emissions, largely due to high car usage.

Boosting clean transport services in both urban and rural areas to aid reduction in this car dependency, as well as increasing connectivity, is a crucial step forward in the fight against climate change.

READ MORE: Douglas Chapman: Scots deserve to be free from nuclear sub risks

The Scottish Government is in dialogue with ADL to explore all possibilities to keep jobs in Scotland. However, this needs to be a three-pronged discussion, with Westminster and Holyrood working in tandem to support and nurture an industry which has an important contribution to make towards green transport and our zero-carbon targets.

Without any major interjection to help ADL, or Greenfold Systems, it’s hard to believe the UK Government is serious about tackling climate change, supporting businesses and unleashing innovationor any of the buzz phrases it chooses to employ.

Next year, the UK will host the postponed COP26 Conference in Glasgow, with the world’s great and good descending on our gallus city to discuss a rapid and radical response to the climate crisis.

At this event, Scotland has the opportunity to showcase our continuing investment in the global green recovery and our far-reaching and innovative targets for a net-zero future.

The UK Government will need to up its game to stay part of this evolving and important ambition.

Because Building Back Better is more than a Twitter hashtag and inaction is no longer an option in a dangerously warming world.