THIS week’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is clear – action must be taken now to avert climate catastrophe. And there is not much time left to do it.

The hard truth is that human behaviour is responsible for global warming – some much, much more than others – and, as the fires and floods of 2021 have indicated, this is not some far-off, existential concern. The climate emergency is very much here and now in all its terrifying manifestation.

For Scotland, this is a hugely important moment in our national story. We have made great strides forward on our climate ambitions, and there is both a willingness and a commitment from across society and government to play our part as the global community comes together to reduce emissions and global warming.

READ MORE: Think tank and MP reveal 21 ways Scotland can address climate change crisis

With COP26 in Glasgow just a few months away, this is the time to refocus hearts and minds on the greatest challenge of our age and cement radical and far-reaching climate action into every aspect of our lives.

That is why I support a new proposal from Scottish think tank Common Weal – 21 For 21: The Climate Change Actions Scotland Needs Now. Written in collaboration with Dr Keith Baker of the Built Environment Asset Management Centre at Glasgow Caledonian University and based on six years of policy work on energy and climate change, this blueprint for action has been endorsed by climate scientist authors of the IPCC as “an inclusive, just and progressive” proposal with “crucial mitigation measures for Scotland”.

The 21 For 21 initiative calls for an acceleration of action on climate change, centring fairness, equality and respect for nature in a comprehensive overview of climate action points for 2021. At its heart is a recognition that Scots must be both stakeholders and guardians of our abundant natural resources and renewable potential if we are to create a resilient and sustainable future for our nation.

The National: A windfarm

It proposes the establishment of a National Energy Company (NEC) and a Scottish Energy Development Agency (Seda) to facilitate the decarbonisation of Scotland’s energy supplies, tackle fuel poverty, create new employment opportunities and enable social and economic regeneration.

21 For 21 recognises that strategic planning and essential technical expertise are fundamental to achieving a just transition to net zero, where Seda can provide a roadmap to re-energise and harness existing renewable technologies, push for innovation and enlist our talented workforce. All eyes will be on proposals for a NEC to be discussed again at the upcoming SNP conference, renewing a manifesto commitment from 2017 to establish this state-run company.

Common Weal’s proposal also addresses the unfairness of the high grid connection costs in Scotland, in particular, for those in the Highlands and islands who pay exorbitant standby charges compared to those in not just the central belt but across the UK.

21 For 21 proposes to level electricity grid connection costs and standing charges and explore similar devolved routes to taking control of our electricity grid as we did with the planning system to stymie new nuclear power and fracking. In addition, retrofitting every house in Scotland will ensure people can live healthily and well in warm and comfortable homes.

TAKING an “all of us first” approach, a dedicated one-stop-shop to transition workers from the fossil fuel and nuclear industry recognises that we must retain our existing expertise and nurture new skills as we put everything we’ve got into the push for clean energy and the phase out of exploration for oil and gas.

Prioritising the deployment of green hydrogen as this energy develops in the future is part and parcel of this recognition that our energy transition must be a green and sustainable one.

There will be so much that will define this decade, but one essential phrase will sum up either our action or inaction as time runs out and that is “listen to the science”.

As we pick ourselves up from the initial horror of the pandemic and its trailing arm of loss and grief, we face an even greater foe, created and fuelled by our own hands. And like Covid, climate change can only be tackled by following the science, accepting expert, evidence-based research and facts, realising that we have to act fast, that we need to make radical and comprehensive changes to how we live to deal with this ominous threat to our existence.

I have called 21 For 21 a vital political, social and economic call to arms, a rallying cry for immediate and bold action, an opportunity and a responsibility for Scotland.

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Others such as Ed Miliband and Caroline Lucas (above) have pushed to put governments on a “war footing” to avert disaster and many commentators have compared the scale of this challenge to the

over-arching transformations made in post-war Britain with the Beveridge Report and the welfare state.

Above party politics, the message is clear – in the face of catastrophe, we must be bold, courageous and transformational in our action on climate change.

Scotland was one of the first countries to declare a climate emergency. Now we must be one of the first countries to cement this recognition and commitment, our talents and resources into hard policy action. 21 For 21 provides the essential science backed blueprint for change. We’ve got everything we need to do it; let’s not waste this precious time.