Good news for Scotland’s vast private estates. We’re planting trees to save the planet and there’s big money in the green stuff. Last week, the Scottish Government set an ambitious target for making Scotland net-zero on greenhouse gasses by 2045, and a lot of it of it is achieved by planting trees, many of them on private land whose owners have already made a killing from wind turbines.

There’s some doubt, according to the science journal Nature, about just how effective tree planting is as a means of combating global warming. Trees emit chemicals too, and darken the land, thus absorbing heat. But let’s not quibble. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) which inspired last week’s landmark target, is in no doubt that mass reforestation – and we’re talking billions of trees – will be one of the major methods of scrubbing CO2 from the atmosphere.

Scottish Greens: How you can help fight climate change

Scotland is well placed to deliver on this at least. Those barren hills and glens used to be under a dense covering of foliage. The forests were cleared for agriculture and charcoal in the south, and latterly for sheep and deer in the north. So mass forestation is only restoring the ecological default in Scotland.

Nice to know, too, that Scotland, on paper at least, is leading the way on meeting climate change targets, having reduced emissions by a creditable 49% since 1990. This is better than the UK as a whole, which is itself a world-leader in climate control. Scotland’s abundant renewable energy is going to play a major role in transforming the UK economy.

Transport is one of the main areas yet to be decarbonised, and every watt of that green energy is needed to make the switch from petrol and diesel in the next decade. It’s long overdue. The internal combustion engine is 19th-century technology, horribly complex, unreliable and inefficient. Future generations will be astonished that we allowed our city streets to remain sewers of toxic chemicals.

Mind you, the Scottish Government needs to put its foot on the environmental accelerator pedal. It is three years since I wrote a series of articles on electric cars after being allowed to drive some of them around Scotland. There were precious few charging points back then, and there’s scarcely any more now. Yet, the electrification of transport should be a relatively simple exercise.

Every petrol station should be a charging station, every supermarket car park, every school and hospital. Wherever cars congregate, in fact. The good news is that no-one who tries a modern electric car will want to drive anything else, because they are faster, cheaper, safer and more reliable.

Of course, manufacturing any car uses prodigious amounts of energy too, requires many costly materials and produces toxic waste. Electric cars aren’t a solution to climate change, but electrification of transport must be, especially micro-transportation. Every city in Europe seem to be turning to those electric scooters – except in the UK where they are illegal. Half of the bicycles sold in Germany now are electric. People are turning naturally to more energy-efficient transport so why not give them a push?

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The CCC report was rather benign on flying. You’ll be pleased to know that it’s not being phased out. This is probably because reducing aviation requires international agreement. However, cuts in air passenger duty seem difficult to justify. The Scottish Government wants APD cut by 50% to attract more business and tourists to Scotland. But Nicola Sturgeon is going to have to bite the environmental bullet here. The optics are wrong. It looks too much like a middle-class subsidy, even though many working-class people swear by Ryanair.

Then there’s the nuclear conundrum. Scotland’s nuclear power stations account for 35% of electricity generation – a large proportion of our nominally clean energy. But they are old and unreliable and in need of replacement. However, nuclear power stations are regarded (with justification) as a safety issue following Fukushima. They are also ruinously expensive and damage the environment by producing toxic waste which needs to be stored for thousands of years.

The nuclear industry leapt upon last week’s CCC report as a vindication of nuclear as part of the de-carbon equation. Big money is going into painting the atom green. But the prospect of the Scottish Government commissioning a new nuclear plant, given the explosive cost of Hinkley Point C, England’s first new nuclear power station in decades, seem remote. Renewable energy is much cheaper, joule for joule, if it can be brought to grid fast enough. We are in a race against time to see if Torness and Hunterston can be made redundant before they fall apart.

There are other issues too. Homes need to be insulated, gas boilers are going to have to go. We’re told to keep our home thermostats at 19 degrees, when most of us don’t have them. It’s all expected to cost 1-2% of GDP. But what was remarkable about last week’s much-anticipated report was how doable it all appeared. By comparison with the apocalyptic forecasts of the climate Cassandras, like 16-year-old school striker Greta Thunberg, the CCC sounded like a walk in the environmental park. Nicola Sturgeon insists that cutting carbon will improve our health and wellbeing and the quality of life. We’ll all be happier, cleaner and probably working less in our new habitable planet.

I hope she’s right. There was an air of wishful thinking about last week’s pronouncements. But there’s nothing wrong with accentuating the positive. The problem with the more alarmist forecasts of Extinction Rebellion, who want net zero by 2025, is that they induce not willingness to change, but a sense of futility and public apathy. If addressing climate change is going to involve banning travel, eating no meat, digging for vegan victory and plunging the economy into a biblical recession, as we close down whole sectors of industry, then people will not buy into it. The Yellow Vest movement was ignited by an environmental tax.

Scottish Greens: How you can help fight climate change

It may well be that the climate change targets are still too conservative. According to the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change, CO2 emissions need to be cut faster to prevent the planet warming by more than 1.5C – the new tipping point. But the Scottish and UK governments have consistently outperformed their targets since they started making them seriously over a decade ago. They can do so again.

Much of climate hygiene is self-evident. The public are morally signed up to it, and while abandoning their petrol and diesel cars may seem a grim prospect now, in practice it is likely to be a liberation. Most cars spend their lives sitting near a pavement losing value through depreciation. With proper public transport and urban alternatives, everyone wins.

Vested interests are always a block on progress, but there is now a remarkable consensus, from the CBI to the GMB, BP to the NFU, the BMA to BMW. Addressing climate change need not take us back to a pre-industrial world of squalor, disease and hardship. The human race isn’t over yet.