THE last thing our climate needs is even more millionaires flying around in private jets.

Monday saw a particularly audacious example when the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, took a private jet to Aberdeen despite normal flights and trains being available.

As it turns out, that polluting, expensive and extravagant mode of transport was the least objectionable part of his visit. It’s absurd that anyone could look at the soaring global temperatures and the brutal wildfires and heatwaves that have engulfed Europe and decide it was the right time to double down on oil and gas. But that is exactly what he was in Scotland to do.

READ MORE: 'Out of control' Rishi Sunak loses it with BBC presenter over private jet use

The 100 new oil and gas exploration licences he announced for the North Sea will have a long and destructive legacy. This was probably the single most consequential and damaging decision Sunak will make in his disastrous and hopefully short premiership.

In the days since he has only doubled down, saying that we need to “max out the opportunities” in North Sea drilling and ludicrously insisted – against all evidence – that we could still do so while hitting the UK’s climate target.

It’s utter nonsense from a Prime Minister and Westminster government who clearly don’t care about the greatest crisis our world faces. And it came just days after the Secretary General of the United Nations declared that the era of “global boiling” had begun, as temperature records across the planet were shattered day after day.

Unfortunately, Labour isn’t much better. In true Keir Starmer (below) fashion, any semblance of principle and adherence to science was thrown out the window as soon as the Tories and conservative sections of the media started to criticise it.

The National: Labour leader Keir Starmer appearing on Classic FM

Labour have now confirmed that, if they take office next year, they would not cancel these new licences. History will judge them just as harshly as the Tories who granted these climate-wrecking permits in the first place.

At the same time, Labour have ditched their flagship £28 billion UK-wide climate plan and they’re going to increasingly desperate lengths to find reasons to oppose actions proposed by the Greens and SNP, even when they were also in the last Labour manifesto.

It’s pure opportunism while the planet burns.

Labour stood by silently on the sidelines while the Tories torpedoed Scotland creating a deposit return scheme for cans and bottles, despite their MSPs having voted for it. Then at the last minute they opposed the low emission zone for Glasgow city centre despite having supported and voted for it over many years.

And they took the same duplicitous approach with protecting our seas. There is no doubt that our marine environment is in a state of crisis. Labour once supported enhanced protection for fishing, only to then switch to opposing their own manifesto commitments as soon as the Scottish Government published concrete proposals.

READ MORE: Sunak's family firm signed $1.5B deal with BP before oil and gas license announcement

The next big test will come when the Scottish Government publishes its vital and ambitious strategy for heating buildings. Labour has identified this as a priority area, but the public opposition so far is being led by a Scottish Labour lord while the party leadership remains totally silent. Our climate isn’t going to heal by itself. We can’t reverse the damage without governments taking action, particularly large polluters like the UK.

The staggering complacency is about to get even worse, with the Tories looking to weaponise the environment as part of a totally counter-productive and ultimately planet-wrecking culture war approach to the next General Election.

In a frankly preposterous interview with the Daily Telegraph last week Sunak sat in Margaret Thatcher’s old Rover and stressed that he is “on the side of car drivers”.

Does anyone trust Keir Starmer to stand up to this kind of nonsense?

What we’re seeing from Westminster isn’t a remotely serious response to the biggest threat we face. Despite there being much more we can do here in Scotland, the really big and critical powers needed to tackle the climate crisis will still sit with these out of touch elites in the UK Parliament.

If a simple bottle and can recycling scheme is deemed too radical, then how can the same politicians be trusted to deliver the far-reaching and structural changes that are needed? It’s not just crude populist politics.

There is a devastating real-world impact to this kind of approach. It is a price that has been paid by the people of Greece in recent weeks and by those across the Global South over many years. What could be more reckless, cynical and counterproductive than continuing to wreck our environment out of narrow and extremely short-term political self-interest?

Sunak and Starmer need to think beyond the next set of right-wing headlines. If they really don’t care about our planet, they should at least care about how history will judge them.

Future generations will see that politicians were repeatedly and starkly warned by the United Nations, leading scientists and climate activists. They will see who was working to divert the crisis they are living through and who stood by idly while the world burned.

I sincerely hope that those young people get to learn about how the international community worked together to build a fairer, greener and better world. That world won’t be delivered by words alone, and it certainly won’t arrive on a private jet.