AS ever with Boris Johnson, the devil is in the detail. During his speech to the Conservative Party Conference last week he pledged, that “out of the teeth of the pandemic”, the UK would become a world leader (a recurring theme) in clean energy with every home powered by offshore wind by 2030.

Peppered with imagery of sunlit eco-uplands and Saudi Arabian levels of wealth, Johnson set out his vision for a green revolution and a surge in new jobs in this sector. He was up to the same blowhard rhetoric in a speech to the UN this past September, where he talked about Britain’s extraordinary potential to “build back greener” and “bet big” on renewables, committing to major government investment in hydrogen, electric cars, solar and nuclear energy to reach net zero by 2050.

Given the UK Government’s recent behaviour, commitment from Johnson on these important matters is hard to take at face value.

Their intention to break with international law in order to get their hard version of Brexit “done” has damaged their standing enormously in terms of trust and commitment and begs the question on their honest intentions to keep to other vital international agreements in the future.

Putting notorious climate denier and all-round politically incorrect, Tony Abbott, into the position of Brexit trade negotiator is another massive blow to their environmental credibility.

Talking of sexism, Johnson has come under criticism for the lack of diversity and the absence of women in his top team for the COP26 summit in Glasgow next year. As former president of Ireland and former UN envoy of climate change Mary Robinson pointed out: “... gender divisions in climate are very significant. Having women in leadership is important to ensure these issues are taken up enthusiastically.”

According to Friends of the Earth, women and children are 14 times more likely than men to suffer the direct consequences of natural disasters and climate breakdown. Where are the female voices championing this cause as a crucial part of the UK’s approach to tackling the climate crisis?

There is a running theme here. Johnson has done his best to exclude Scotland’s First Minister from next year’s COP26, despite it being hosted in Glasgow. In rather a contemptuous and arrogant move by the PM, he refused to give our FM any formal role at the conference, while also sacking former COP26 organiser Claire O’Neill, who had the audacity to suggest that greater collaboration was needed between Scotland and London on the matter.

Fortunately, beyond Johnson’s sphere of influence, Nicola Sturgeon has been appointed in a new role as European co-chair of the Under2 Coalition. The Under2 Coalition is a network of more than 200 governments set up to drive climate action across the globe, including North America, Latin America and Africa, representing 43% of the global economy.

In recognition of this role, Nicola Sturgeon reaffirmed Scotland’s continuing commitment to a green recovery while also highlighting the importance of “inclusion” at the heart of the coalition’s work to “recognise our moral obligation to help set the world on course to net zero in a way that is fair for all”.

Johnson, on the other hand, doesn’t do inclusion. It’s hard to imagine this current government being able to “build back better”, when certain voices or faces that don’t fit their wider agenda are excluded from discussions. This government has shown by its behaviour at Westminster that collaboration and cross-party contribution is an anathema to their way of governing. Dissenters are shown the door. However, when contributors are silenced or deliberately barred from the top table, progress will stall and stutter. And we know we don’t have time to play games like this when the climate stakes are so terrifyingly high.

Fortunately, the great British public is way ahead of the game. In addition to polling that shows that the public want the Government to prioritise creating new renewable energy jobs, two recent reports have highlighted how much people want a fairer, greener society in tandem with strong leadership from the Government on environmental action.

The Citizens Assembly on Climate Change, the first of its kind in the UK, put fairness and leadership at the top of their guiding principles for the path to net zero. These two key themes appeared again and again in the weeks across assembly meetings, regarded as all the more important now we face such an uphill struggle to recover from Covid-19. This assembly was UK wide; in Scotland, invitations were recently sent out to participants to join Scotland’s Climate Assembly focussing on our nation’s unique challenges and ambitions to hit net zero even earlier than 2050, in 2045. Watch this space.

In the Reset report, similar themes to the UK Climate Assembly appeared. For this report, cross-party MPs and researchers asked 55,000 people how they wanted to shape our post-pandemic future. Two-thirds of respondents said they wanted government to make society fairer. They also wanted are a far more localised and greener economic recovery and a more community-orientated future. No-one wanted to return to the way we lived pre-virus. They wanted change, not business as usual.

That’s a pretty clear set of themes by which Johnson and co could build their green revolution as they promise.

Current president of COP26 and Business Secretary Alok Sharma had said that the Climate Assembly report would inform government work on climate action in the run up to COP26. Its announcement of the £160 million investment in wind power at the Tory conference would suggest that they have listened and taken note. But this is at the same time as dithering over the opening of a new deep coal mine in Cumbria and agreeing to private talks with fossil fuel companies about sponsorship at COP26.

All this while also missing 17 out of their own 20 biodiversity targets regardless of their recent pledge on protecting 30% of the UK’s land. Less world-leading more business as usual, after all.

And here is the crux of the climate change issue in the UK. Johnson is the wrong leader, leading the wrong party at the wrong time.

Because the Tories don’t have the historical reputation or even the potential to “build back better” given the kind of radical, non-profit driven, people-centred innovation it now requires in response to this unprecedented pandemic and in the shadow of climate crisis.

A green revolution will involve detailed action plans, joined-up thinking and actual practical application – not this government’s strong point as we’ve seen with their utter lack of preparation on Covid and Brexit.

It will involve rejecting their brand of neoliberalism, redesigning the economy to be fairer, more equal, more resilient in the long term.

It can’t involve giving millions with one hand while continuing carbon emissions with the other. It can’t affect change without regulation and new laws, which means accountability over laissez-faire obligation.

And, most importantly, for a green new deal to succeed, this UK Government must ultimately reject their penchant for fake news and divisive, populist politics in order to get it right.

Are they even capable of such a major “reset”?

Reading between the lines of Johnson’s shallow climate credo, I think we know the answer.