"IT’S one minute to midnight on that doomsday clock and we need to act now.” That’s what Boris Johnson said only nine months ago at the COP26 opening ceremony. Unfortunately, as we’ve come to expect from this Prime Minister, his words were completely worthless.

As soon as he left Glasgow, it was back to business as usual for Westminster. There was no inspiring vision, no meaningful strategy, and no shift when it came to oil, gas and coal. He was talking of the importance of climate action in one breath and then agreeing to even more fossil fuel extraction in the next.

The Tories’ record is one of climate vandalism, plain and simple. It didn’t happen by accident, it was a choice. There is nothing inevitable about a society being built around fossil fuels, but that is what successive prime ministers have done. They have failed to make the renewables investments that are so badly needed, sabotaged emerging sectors such as solar and have doubled down on oil and gas, dragging up household bills while enriching their donors and cronies.

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This week has seen record temperatures all over the UK, with parts of England actually burning. There have been wildfires across Europe, with thousands having to flee their homes, and heatwaves in Africa and Asia. This should not be normal, but, unfortunately, it is likely to become just that as the effects of the climate emergency are made clear.

In fact, this may end up being one of the coolest summers of the rest of our lives. After all, this is the effect of 1.1 degrees of global warming, but we’re currently on track for around three degrees.

It may be corporations in the wealthiest countries that are the biggest polluters, but the impacts are already being most severely felt most by some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities.

We didn’t arrive here overnight. It’s taken centuries of pollution and decades of inaction and climate science denial. Much of the misinformation that has driven the failure has been funded and promoted by the same oil and gas companies that have profited so much from it. We should view that as criminal behaviour. Future generations certainly will.

Tackling this crisis is not just the defining challenge for this generation, it will be for every generation that follows. Tinkering at the edges won’t be enough, we need real, immediate, and transformative change.

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There are worthwhile changes we can make in our individual lives, reducing how much meat (beef in particular) and dairy we eat and avoiding flying if at all possible, for example. But we cannot let the very same people who caused this crisis trick us into thinking that these kinds of changes will be anything like enough, or that we all share equal responsibility for climate breakdown in the first place.

The heaviest lifting must come from the fossil fuel corporations who are doing so much damage and the governments allowing them to do so. Almost three quarters of all global emissions come from just 100 companies.

With Greens in government here in Scotland, we are delivering some of the most far-reaching and comprehensive climate action on these islands. In the last year, we have delivered record funding for recycling, renewables and active travel while committing £5 billion to maintaining, improving and decarbonising Scotland’s railways.

We’re introducing changes which help both the planet and those suffering the most from the cost of living crisis. This includes free bus travel for everyone under 22, opening up the country for young people and their families while cutting carbon emissions by reducing private car use and helping sustain local bus services,

The transition away from fossil fuels must be a just one, especially for those currently working in those sectors. That is why we have established a £500 million fund to help communities reliant on oil and gas jobs, to ensure that those workers and their skills are at the heart of the greener future we are building.

This is what we are doing here in Scotland with the powers we have, and there is far more to come. We have done it all despite a punishing real-terms budget cut of more than 5% from Westminster this year and while lacking the key financial levers of a normal European country. It is a record I am proud of and represents the sort of ambition and delivery that we need to see from all governments across the UK and beyond.

Unfortunately, the outgoing Prime Minister couldn’t care less. He decided to spend one of his last days in office rubbing shoulders with despots, dictatorships and human rights abusers at an international arms fair, rather than attending a vital Cobra meeting to put in place plans to deal with the heatwave.

Despite the very immediate threat, neither of the candidates to replace him seem to be taking this crisis, the greatest we’ve ever faced, any more seriously. Neither has anything meaningful to say about how they will build and invest in the alternative green industries of the future and neither will make the big changes in our society and our economy that we know are necessary.

The scene after a blaze in the village of Wennington, east London after temperatures topped 40C in the UK for the first time ever, as the sweltering heat fuelled fires and widespread transport disruption. Picture date: Wednesday July 20, 2022. PA Photo.

There are some warm words about net-zero, but Rishi Sunak (above) has already pledged to scrap Downing Street’s very limited plans to relax a ban on onshore wind farms while, as environment minister in 2014, Liz Truss cut subsidies for solar farms and called them a “blight on the landscape.” Do we really want either of them leading our response?

We can’t go on like this. We are at a turning point. You can literally feel it in the temperature around us. Every fraction of a degree will make a big difference to millions of lives. Every day that is wasted in denial is a day we will not get back. The doomsday clock that Boris Johnson talked about won’t go away.

Far too many in politics and the media are still talking about climate breakdown as if it is a distant and remote threat that we need to save future generations from. It’s not. It’s with us here and now and we need fundamental and systematic change if we are to fight it.