WE are living in unprecedented times. A global pandemic, which has the potential to cause a global recession and all the while the biosphere of Earth continues to break down, its ability to support life decreasing every year.

These are the circumstances in which Nicola Sturgeon met the leaders of the UK nations this week, so while I’m really pleased the discussion centred around support mechanisms and economic recovery, it’s vital that governments recognise the stakes and the urgency needed.

Even before the pandemic hit, the mismanagement of the UK economy had led to exponential growth in the use of food banks. We saw the same exponential growth in the wealth of the already-rich. That’s right, while we were all extremely restricted in our movements and economic activity, there were people amassing enormous wealth from the situation.

Then the pandemic hit an NHS and a population which didn’t have any reserves, no extra capacity and it has devastated us. As far back as 2016 the OECD was calling for countries to ease up on austerity and invest, but the UK didn’t listen.

READ MORE: Act now to create publicly owned Scottish energy company, Nicola Sturgeon told

I hope Boris Johnson listens now. Because, as a report from the Trades Union Congress revealed this week, the UK is lagging behind when it comes to investment in a green recovery and job creation.

Recovery means building a new economy. An economy that puts the wellbeing of people at its heart and that doesn’t put our very existence under threat. It is possible to build such an economy, and actually, relatively straightforward. Yet, predictably, the UK is already far behind when it comes to such strategic investments, with Germany investing three times more per person and France four times more.

There has been a myth around for some time now that public investment drives out private investment. In my experience of more than 20 years of working in engineering, manufacturing and industry, I know the opposite is true.

A lack of government investment in fact makes companies nervous about investing. We can see this in the failure of the UK economy to recover from the 2008 crash as quickly, under austerity policies, as countries did, who invested more significantly.

We have a window of opportunity now to build new industries, to plan and create this new economy to ensure that the jobs are there when we need them to be. Pretending we can keep extracting oil and gas from the North Sea indefinitely is climate change denial as well as denial of economic reality.

In 2019, the European Commission reported that the UK led the European Union in giving subsidies to fossil fuel companies.

Oil companies have known about climate change since 1977, and despite that, have lobbied relentlessly for subsidies and hand-outs while routinely paying their executives salaries of $10-20 million a year.

The UK Government’s North Sea Transition deal will see billions more handed over to these companies to support the development of technologies that they hope will allow them to continue to dig up and burn fossil fuels. That they hope will allow them to dodge their responsibilities and any serious commitments to reducing emissions. It certainly isn’t a transition.

Let’s not give oil and gas companies more public money to do what they should have been doing decades ago. The corporations aren’t the victims here, let’s see that their workers and the communities who depend on them don’t become victims either.

Let’s instead invest in the alternatives. That’s why I raised a national energy company at my first go at First Minister’s Questions yesterday. It’s an idea the Scottish Government has talked about for a while, but if we don’t move quickly Scotland could lose the enormous renewable energy potential we have.

The industry I have worked in, tidal energy technology, was developed in Scotland. We are the world experts in it, but if we don’t act now we will lose this industry to other countries.

READ MORE: Scotland's green energy sector supports 22,000 jobs, new figures reveal

Building a solid base now not only provides the jobs needed for a green recovery and a just transition, it also lays the ground work for our success as an independent nation.

We need to rethink how we look at the economy now. It isn’t an abstract thing, it isn’t in conflict with our safety or the living world. The economy is how we meet our needs on the planet that we have. The economy is how we provide for each other.

The Scottish Greens manifesto was clear about how strategic investment in a green recovery is an important part of that. Our plans would deliver tens of thousands of new jobs in renewable energy and over 75,000 new jobs upgrading houses and building zero-carbon homes.

It would deliver more than 16,000 new jobs upgrading Scotland’s railways for affordable, reliable services like our European neighbours enjoy. Reliable, affordable bus services reaching more communities.

We can create new jobs in sustainable agriculture, forestry and tourism too.

The groundwork for a just transition needs to start now by investing in things that improve the lives of people in Scotland, create tens of thousands of jobs and reduce our climate emissions to secure our survival. Let’s get on with it