WITH climate breakdown all around us, it’s all too easy to lose hope. It sometimes feels as if our net-zero targets have become some kind of useful commodity to be traded off for votes rather than the fight of our lives.

The naked politicking that was on display in Westminster on Monday night was appalling, with MP after MP talking about the importance of net zero while voting to allow annual fossil fuel licensing. It was appalling and hypocritical, but it was far from an isolated event.

It made me think of the cynical horse-trading that has characterised so many of the international conferences and summits that have seen leaders talking a good game on the climate only to bend over backwards to avoid committing to taking any of the actions that would actually make a real difference.

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There are days when it is hard to know where light and change will come from. Not least over recent months as we have heard a growing number of stories of ordinary families having their electricity cut off by storms while others have been plunged into misery by floods forcing them to evacuate their homes.

We’re in an era of climate chaos – 2023 was the world’s hottest year since records began, by some distance. Yet we’ve just had a cold wet winter of floods and a week of winds that reached nearly 100mph.

It’s a time when we urgently need change, yet, in Westminster, we have an empty-shirt prime minister in Rishi Sunak who is actively working against our climate and is seemingly intent on undoing so much of our net-zero progress by doubling down on oil and gas.

Meanwhile, Keir Starmer, the man who wants to replace him, is happy to allow any new Tory-approved oil and gas licences to go ahead and seems to be going back on his much-touted flagship promise of £28 billion a year of green investment, all before he’s got anywhere near Downing Street.

We don’t need any more of their hot air. What we need is a fair and collaborative shift to renewables that takes our communities and workers with us and works with them rather than leaving them at the mercy of the markets.

Take the Ineos site in my hometown of Grangemouth. Those workers are being thrown on to the scrapheap without a thought. It’s not because they are bad at their jobs (actually the contrary is true), or because the taps are being switched off. It’s because of the decisions of a cut-and-run billionaire who has little concern for his workers.

I’m never going to be an advocate for the fossil fuel industry or for large refineries, but I believe in fairness and a just transition.

What is happening in Grangemouth is neither, it is cruel and unnecessary.

One of the tragedies for the hundreds of workers who could be facing redundancy is that 42,000 full-time jobs are already now being supported by the renewables industry elsewhere in Scotland, a 50% increase in one year, and that £90bn of green investment is underway or rolling out over the next three years. That change needs to happen for them too.

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There is a lot of important work going on that is far from glamorous but is making a difference. As a Scottish Green MSP, I can see the work we are doing to drive it every day in government. Whether it is planning regulations, training schemes, supply chains, procurement, availability of housing, community funds, marketing or public investment.

At the same time, renewables are contributing huge amounts of our electricity and heat pump installations in 2023 were 113% higher than they were only three years ago.

Things are changing for the better, and we need to make sure that this isn’t only happening nationally, but also locally.

We need to be targeted and ensure that workers in big sites like Grangemouth or the Mossmorran gas plant, or communities like those in the north-east of Scotland, which have depended on oil and gas jobs, can see and feel those same benefits and that they are at the heart of driving them.

There’s obviously a lot to do, but the skills and technology are there, all that has been lacking is political will. That is why, despite everything, I have kept hope and why I believe this is still a fight that we can and must win Our movement is powered by a younger generation that is angry at being asked to grow up too soon and confront an uncertain future, having already had too much of their youth robbed by a pandemic.

But increasingly, it is also being driven by those parents and grandparents who understand that they too have a responsibility to do their bit and are making positive choices to do so.

Be that driving electric cars, making their homes warmer and greener with new heat pumps, changing their diets or their investments or in some cases their careers.

There are no end of challenges that we will need to grapple with – how we heat our homes and buildings, tackling the millions of vehicles choking our roads and our lungs, reducing aviation and making public transport the natural choice, adapting our farming and our energy sources.

Last weekend I saw the energy minister Lord Callanan telling the Climate Show on Sky News that people with vested interests in gas boilers were “funding campaigns of misinformation” about heat pumps, a crucial tool in reaching net zero.

It was quite something. Lord Callanan, a Tory peer, speaking at odds with his own party and the kind of wealthy donors that fund them. It’s a sign that even in these dark and difficult days, the winds of political change are still blowing. A new storm is brewing ahead of this General Election.

Things are difficult and the stakes could not be higher, but yes, more than ever, we should all still have hope.