IT was 1970 when a young Prince Charles addressed a conference about the countryside and condemned “the growing menace of oil pollution at sea” which he said “almost destroys beaches and certainly destroys tens of thousands of seabirds”.

He didn’t stop there, highlighting the “chemical pollution discharged into rivers from factories and chemical plants” and the “air pollution from smoke and fumes discharged by factories and from gases pumped out by endless cars and aeroplanes”.

It must have been a bold, radical and forward-thinking message when he delivered it more than 50 years ago – 20 years before I was born – and has only become more urgent over time.

It is a theme he returned to in 1992, telling leaders at a climate summit that “we seem unable to wake up to the fact that so many of the catastrophic consequences of carrying on with business-as-usual are bearing down on us faster than we think, already dragging many millions more people into poverty and dangerously weakening global food, water and energy security for the future”.

READ MORE: Richard Walker:  Ignoring public opinion can haunt politicians forever

I wonder if either of these old speeches crossed his mind at all this Tuesday when he sat in a packed-out Westminster to address MPs and Lords at the state opening of parliament.

It was a big occasion. Holyrood isn’t exactly free of mythology and ritual, but thankfully we have nothing that compares to the vast and elaborate circus that surrounds Westminster during a King’s Speech.

A royal carriage, an “imperial state crown” that’s covered in 3000 jewels, a long red velvet cape – these are just some of the lavish trappings that come with the pageantry of the whole thing.

But all of the ridiculous pomp and indulgences are a sideshow for the real business, which is presenting the Government’s plans for the year ahead.

The National:

Topping the bill was an utterly reckless and planet-wrecking new commitment to allow new licensing rounds for North Sea oil and gas to take place every year. It comes mere weeks since the same government committed to 400 million new oil barrels worth of drilling in Rosebank.

You could hear a certain wry bemusement in the King’s voice as he read aloud that it was through the endless expansion of new oil and gas drilling that we could help families through the transition to net zero. He must have known how counterproductive this was.

I am a republican, but, to be fair to Charles, he didn’t write the speech, Downing Street did.

The commitment to oil and gas was perhaps no surprise from a Prime Minister who has already said he is determined to “max out” North Sea reserves regardless of the consequences, but it underlined just how far the Tories are willing to go on behalf of their friends in the fossil fuel industry.

Whether they are abandoning commitments and environmental obligations or talking about preposterous phoney wars against motorists, the Tories have been happy to use our planet as another forum for their cynical culture war.

READ MORE: Scottish Parliament motions tabled calling for ceasefire in Gaza

It wasn’t just damaging in its own terms, it was also a huge missed opportunity at a time when we don’t have many left to waste.

The focus could and should have been on advancing our renewables sector. Onshore wind, solar and other clean forms of energy can address high energy bills and help with the cost of living crisis by reducing costs for homes and businesses, ploughing even more money into fossil fuels will accomplish none of this.

This year has been one of climate extremes. Scientists say that it is on track to be the hottest year ever on record, with many of the destructive impacts that Charles warned of in his earlier speeches.

In the last few months alone we have seen terrible wildfires spreading across Europe and North America, the devastating droughts in Africa or the awful flooding we have seen here in Scotland.

It is time for all governments to show environmental leadership.

That is what we are trying to do in Scotland. We are on the cusp of delivering a generational shift in clean home heating that will lead the UK as well as record investment in nature and biodiversity.

We are getting people out of vehicles and on to public transport and active travel through free bus travel for everyone under 22 and the scrapping of peak rail fares while doing significant work to develop our renewable energy capabilities as part of a Just Transition that can lead the world.

At the Scottish Greens annual conference in October we took these pledges further, with announcements of a new tax on polluting cruises, investment in free solar ferries for young islanders and moves towards a carbon land tax.

READ MORE: World Gaelic Week set to return for third edition

These are the sort of positive, progressive and ambitious policies that I expect an environmentalist King would have loved to be announcing, rather than the planet-destroying ones that he was.

We are only weeks away from the COP 28 climate conference, which King Charles will also be giving the opening address for.

With the eyes of the world on him and on polluting governments like the UK, I hope that he is able to give better news that focuses on taking action to tackle the climate crisis rather than hiding from it.