THE Autumn Statement saw the Chancellor trying to paint a picture of a buoyant UK economy that he had rescued from the brink. There was chuntering and cheers from the Tory benches, but only 24 hours later all of the grandiose claims had turned to dust for millions of households.

Ofgem’s decision to raise the energy price cap is yet another financial slap in the face that will plunge even more families into poverty right at the start of a long cold winter.

It is the result of a broken market that is dependent on volatile and destructive fossil fuel prices, at the whim of international markets. As long as energy bills and the cost of gas are so entwined we will continue to be at the mercy of price fluctuations and the worst kind of corporate profiteering.

So one of the biggest and most critical changes we can make is to how we heat and insulate our buildings.

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Firstly, we need to reduce energy demand by making our buildings more energy efficient. The Scottish Government has a target to raise energy efficiency standards for all buildings by 2033. Better insulation reduces fuel poverty but alone will not be enough, and will not break the link between volatile planet-wrecking fossil fuels and the bills that are hammering people here and now.

There is also an important role for heat networks (where more than one building draws on a common heat source).

These can and should be run in the public interest. There’s a town in the north of Sweden, which has seen the opening of the first green hydrogen-powered steelmaking plant. The community owns half of the facility, the private sector owns the other half and it has allowed them to design a long-term district heating scheme for the benefit of all households in the area.

Heat networks will be a growing part of how we heat our buildings and just this week Green minister Patrick Harvie (below) secured parliamentary support for a new Scottish target of seven terawatt hours for heat networks by 2035 (it is currently just over one).

The National: Patrick Harvie spoke about Rishi Sunak's net zero U-turns during his appearance on The Sunday Show

But growth in heat networks will take time and there will be limits on where it makes economic and practical sense to roll them out.

That’s why heat pumps also have a huge role to play – a tried, tested and reliable technology which is decades-old, highly-efficient and already installed in thousands of Scottish homes and used by millions across Europe.

By replacing gas boilers with clean heat we can future-proof our homes while cutting carbon emissions and freeing people from the fluctuations of fossil fuel bills.

How could anyone object to that? Yet, over the last years, in various countries, heat pumps have become the go-to cause of the climate deniers and naysayers. Clean heat has become “woke”, the latest frontline in a climate culture war that ignores science.

Dig behind the surface and you will find campaigns of disinformation and distortion funded by fossil fuel interests and regurgitated by the right-wing press.

Meantime, back in the real world, Scottish businesses wrote to the First Minister last month to urge the Scottish Government to set in place the kind of stable regulatory regime which will allow investment to flow. And the Green Heat Finance Task Force just this week showed the huge appetite among funders to back Scottish ambition.

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The climate deniers don’t want people in Scotland to look to Scandinavia and the other parts of our continent where heat pumps are becoming a normal part of everyday life. Why do they think that Scotland is incapable of aspiring for better and doing things differently?

They make unfounded claims that heat pumps don’t work in the cold, which is nonsense. Heat pumps are widely used in countries like Norway, which have colder climates than Scotland.

Scotland offers the most generous package of support anywhere in the UK: a £7500 grant for switching to a heat pump; similar help for energy efficiency work. Even higher grants for rural homes.

For neighbourhoods looking at heat networks, a £300 million pot has been made available to get plans up and running.

Scotland has a legal obligation to cut climate emissions to zero by 2045. We also have a commitment to be three-quarters of the way there by 2030. These commitments were backed by all parties in the Scottish Parliament, even the ones who are desperately trying to undermine our progress.

Next week, my Green colleague Patrick Harvie will launch proposals for a new Heat in Buildings bill setting out a bold, ambitious and badly needed plan to revolutionise the way we heat our homes and country. It is exactly the kind of climate leadership that is needed in Scotland and beyond.

This is vital work. Improving the energy efficiency of our homes and changing to clean heating systems are both critical to hitting our climate targets and building a fairer, greener Scotland.

The drastic need for change was underlined this week by the news from Grangemouth. We cannot leave our society in the hands of cut-and-run corporations who will pollute the planet and then abandon a community rather than delivering the future they deserve.

The National: The change is due to take place in 2025 (Jane Barlow/PA)

Only months ago, workers at Grangemouth (above) were told that they would be part of the planning for a sustainable future. Now they are being told their jobs are at risk just weeks before Christmas. It is a shameful way to treat workers.

There is also an increasingly urgent global picture to consider. It is only a week until leaders from around the world head to Dubai for the COP28 climate conference.

There is a moral obligation on every government to lead by example, while leaving no workers behind.

The First Minister will be there too, telling the story of how in Scotland we are leading the change even though our powers over energy are limited. Of how a government of two parties are working together, leading the way to a greener, cleaner future.

There’s an important role for all of us in getting behind the heat transition – tackling energy bills, ending climate pollution and supporting thousands of skilled jobs.